Christchurch after the earthquake: risen from the rubble

Three years after Christchurch was devastated by earthquake, the New Zealand city is getting back on its feet. We take a look at what's new and what has reopened

Three years on from the earthquake that killed 185 people, Christchurch, New Zealand, is on the road to recovery. There are now 20 hotels up and running in the city centre, including Hotel 115 (, doubles from £62), a 30-room boutique hotel that opened in December. A new five-star hotel, the city's second, is set to open in July (Hotel Montreal on Cranmer Square).

The Victoria Street bar scene is thriving, with newcomers such as Revival (, below), made from old shipping containers and including a hair salon. New Regent Street is bustling again, and the much-loved Vespa bar ( has reopened on High Street in the rebuilt Strange's building.

Gourmet burgers are a big trend in New Zealand, and Velvet Burger (, which has branches in Auckland and Dunedin, opened this month in the western Christchurch suburb of Riccarton. South of the city centre, the Tannery ( is a new development of independent shops, restaurants and bars.

Although galleries closed in the aftermath of the earthquake, the city's art scene continued: people put on exhibitions in their homes, garages and purpose-built temporary galleries called Art Boxes ( around the city. Now a new hub, Art Central, is the centrepiece of a trail of public artworks ( Art can still be seen in temporary spaces all over Christchurch, such as the 10-metre suspended Spires sculpture in Latimer Square (

The Restart shopping mall in Christchurch, New Zealand
The Restart shopping mall Photograph: PR

Gap Filler ( is a regeneration project that puts on creative events in the city's vacant sites, from pedal-powered cinemas to gap golf. Projects this year include Dance-O-Mat – a coin-operated public dance space, where you plug your MP3 player into a converted washing machine and dance in the street – and free audio tours of Christchurch in transition.

The city's heritage trams ( started running again last November, across Cathedral Square and on to the Canterbury museum ( The route will be extended throughout 2014. One-, two- and three-hour city bus tours are also running daily (

The temporary Cardboard Cathedral (, above), which opened to great fanfare last August, is now hosting concerts and art exhibitions. A new park along the Otakaro/Avon river ( will ultimately wind through the city, with footpaths and cycle routes, open-air theatre spaces and restaurants. Two sections, in the south-west, are already open.


Rachel Dixon

The GuardianTramp

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