Top 5 Christchurch Attractions
State: South Island
Country: New Zealand
Considered to be the gateway to the South Island, Christchurch is the second largest city in New Zealand, and is sometimes known as the Garden City. Named by the Canterbury Association which settled the Canterbury Province in Christchurch, the city is bounded by fertile farming land, rivers and mountains, which offer plenty for nature seekers and sporting enthusiasts to do. Devasted by the 2011 earthquake, Christchurch is still in the process of recovery, which is expected to take several more years.
Here are the Top 5 Tourist Attractions to visit in Christchurch, all of which hold important cultural or historical significance. All these are permanent locations which can be visited and viewed at any time throughout the year.
1. Cathedral Square
Cathedral Square is the geographical and cultural heart of Christchurch, where many perfomances and events are held and many iconic structures are located. Devasted in the 2011 earthquakes, Cathedral Square is an apt reflection of the current state of Christchurch, still in the process of recovering, with several roads still closed and no electricity in some parts, but with hope for the future even as rebuilding efforts continue. The Chalice, a modern sculpture by New Zealand artist Neil Dawson, still stands today in Cathedral Square, as does many other artworks placed there since the earthquake.
2. TranzAlpine Express
More an experience rather than a destination, the TranzAlpine Express is considered among the world’s best train journeys, as it passes through scenic locations in New Zealand. Operating daily between Christchurch and Greymouth, the 5 hour journey of the TranzAlpine Express brings passengers past beautiful locales such as the Canterbury Plains, Waimakariri River, Southern Alps and Arthur’s Pass National Park.
3. Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
Willowbank Wildlife Reserve is a nature reserve and wildlife park in Christchurch, home to many native New Zealand species including the Kiwi, Takahe, Kunekune Pigs and more. Willowbank Wildlife Reserve also allows visitors to experience the Maori culture and heritage through artifacts, buildings, performances, and even a traditional Maori meal.
4. 185 Empty Chairs
185 Empty Chairs is a New Zealand public artwork project that commemorates the 2011 earthquake which hit Christchurch. Consisting of 185 white chairs, each unique and different, arranged in an square formation, the 185 Empty Chairs represents the 185 individual lives lost during the earthquake. Visitors to the 185 Empty Chairs are invited to walk around and sit in a chair which speaks to them. Grass and flowers growing under the 185 Empty Chairs represent hope and regeneration, while the poetic reminder that the art “installation is temporary, as is life”.
5. Port Hills
The Port Hills are named for their location between Christchurch and the port of Lyttelton. The Port Hills are noted for their geological and environmental importance, as a diverse range of flora and fauna native to New Zealand reside here. The Port Hills are also considered an important recreational area for residents of Christchurch, with many biking and hiking trails, public parks and reserves, and a gondola lift to the top of Mount Cavendish, which has spectacular examples of lava flow from the extinct volcano.
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