The earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 decimated Christchurch. They also created, what can now be thought of as, an opportunity to build a new city. Thoughtful design, and I understand much discussion, has created an authentic, sustainable, greener city of Aotearoa New Zealand. It’s a work in progress, but it’s a joy to wander and I look forward to returning to see their progress.
The architecture and design is very New Zealand, and a walking tour with Walk Christchurch is the perfect way to learn and understand how the new city is evolving. Walk Christchurch are volunteers who love their city. A portion of the cost of your walk is donated to a local cause, last year $10,000 was donated to assist with the rebuild of the Arts Centre.
We started at the beautiful Arts Centre complex. Originally built in 1878 as the location for Christchurch’s University, it’s now the hub of the Performing Arts Precinct in the new city. Read more here
In 1974 I attended my first live concert at the Christchurch Town Hall (The Hollies). In the ’70s the Town Hall was “state of the art” having opened in 1972. It was badly damaged in the earthquake but saved from demolition and rebuilt to it’s original glory, reopening in 2019. I was pleased to see the 1970s water feature fountains were retained too!
Also standing quietly beside the Avon River is The Kate Sheppard National Memorial to Women’s Suffrage, a sculpture by Dutch New Zealand artist Margriet Windhausen. Unveiled by New Zealand’s Governor General, Dame Catherine Tizard, on 19 September 1993, the memorial marks one hundred years since New Zealand women gained the right to vote in parliamentary elections in 1893. Kate Sheppard was a Christchurch woman and ‘the face’ of the fight.
Some years after the vote was won, an editor from the Women’s Christian Temperance Union wrote about Kate Sheppard and the women’s suffrage movement in New Zealand “…we, the mothers of the present need to impress upon our children’s minds how the women of the past wrestled and fought, suffered and wept, prayed and believed, agonised and won for them the freedom they enjoy today”. A moving tribute that remains true today.
Walking through a city it’d be easy to just admire the gardens, especially somewhere like Christchurch which has the nickname of The Garden City. My guide, Graeme, pointed out that even the new garden beds are watered from the footpath runoff which is filtered through the stones and recycled.
Next stop, Turanga (Christchurch Central Library). The thought and design of this new, low rise, building is heart warming. The Terraces and openings on upper floors face culturally significant points in the Canterbury landscape and beyond. The exterior golden coloured aluminium cladding is the colour of the port hills that watch over Christchurch while the native harakeke (flax) was an inspiration for the vertical patterns.
After many years of discussion and debate, work has begun on the iconic Christ Church Cathedral. A landmark in the middle of Cathedral Square there’s alot of work to be done to restore ‘the Square’ to it’s pre earthquake status. This photo was taken from the viewing platform in the Library.
Of course, it’s not a real walking tour if you don’t find the best foodie haunts! Riverside Market is that place in Christchurch. An indoor farmers market, open 7 days a week, supporting many small, local businesses. My favourite here, although it’s not food, is the Riverside Collective who describe themselves as a ‘micro community of merchants’. Artisan businesses can rent a shelf to promote their wares. As their business grows, they rent more space to sell more products. Brilliant idea!
The Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial is a very moving tribute to the 185 people who died as a result of the earthquake on 22 February 2011. As the Avon River flows past the memorial the river has been re engineered to slow down, as if to remember the victims whose names are carved into the wall. The wall is on the south side of the river, on a sunny day it’d be bathed in sunshine and able to be viewed from the purpose built park on the north side of the river. It’s a beautiful peaceful memorial.
You’ll see the mural on the wall before you see the Cashel Street Rollickin Gelato shop. And this is where my walking tour ends, with a hokey tokey pokey gelato to enjoy while I wander and ponder the amazing new Christchurch!