I've been to New Zealand several times, and always like Christchurch as a city; just nice to wander its streets, amble through the botanic garden, etc. Wondering what it's like nowadays, after the earthquakes. Still worth a stop, or mostly missable due to the chaos of rebuilding?
I'm a local Christchurch person who has been documenting the impact of the earthquakes on our city. Lonely Planet have just listed us as the sixth most exciting city to visit in the world. I have also written a book on before, during and after the earthquake, titled Cafe Reflections: Christchurch City 1975 - 2012.
Most of the city from the central parts westwards hasn't had too much damage. It still feels and looks pretty normal on the surface. Eastwards there is a lot of damage, which is still in the process of being assessed and decided on whether it should be repaired, rebuilt or abandoned.
However, the central city that you are familiar with from previous travels is still mostly cordoned off (fenced) and demolished. There are still many more demolitions to go. Rebuild has not really yet started. Although there are pockets of it happening in the wider parts of Christchurch.
The Botanic Gardens are still beautiful, and Victoria Square has reopened finally after 20 months of being fenced off. It is back to being beautiful. It also gives you good chance to get closer to seeing the now vacant lots of the central city.
If you are interested, I have many photos online, on Facebook, that I could direct you to, which show you what the city looks like now.
I believe if you have loved it in the past, it is worth a stop this visit. We need tourists more than ever to support our earthquake impacted businesses, and to be able to tell our story to other travellers and the world.
If you do decide to come back here, I would be happy to meet you and show you around, let you see what happened through the eyes of a local and how determined we are not not let these events destroy our strong Cantabrian souls.
Christchurch is very different, but definitely not to be missed. It's a city waiting for you to return and appreciate.
Warmest regards from Christchurch, New Zealand
I re-visited ChCh for the first time after the quakes in March of this year. During my visit the "earthquake exhibit" opened at the Museum. I don't know if it's still going on. I believe it was designed to be a temporary thing. Like you, Chch has a special place in my heart.
I was very sad to see all the damage...even in March, lots left to do. I couldn't believe what they had decided to replace the old Cathedral with. But, I love the city so much, I still plan to relocate they in a few years. Even with the devastation, I believe it is one of the most special locations on this planet.
To answer your question, if you loved Chch before, yes it's worth a trip. Go back and give us an update.
Deb - wish I'd have met you while I was there.
I want to get back to NZ sometime and have visited Christchurch twice before and liked it. I would certainly visit it again, even were it not on the main route south and north on the east coast.
I'm actually planning on moving over to NZ from Australia for a few years and Christchurch is one of the front runners in my decision on where to settle. I'm looking for a place to live with a much more comfortable climate (I currently live in a sub-tropical hot climate and don't really like it that much).
I love that Christchurch has mountains on one side and ocean on the other, not many places in the world can boast this, so that is another reason why it is so appealing to me.
Also you can't deny the strength and tenacity of the locals who endured through the earthquakes and are now rebuilding. It's the people that give Christchurch it's character. There is no better time to visit, in my opinion.