On February 22 2011 a major earthquake hit New Zealand’s second biggest city, turning the streets into veritable off-road type pathways.
Two years on, the earthquakes are now minor and few and far between, and tourists from the rest of New Zealand and around the world are flocking in to see Christchurch as it rebuilds.
The airport is just a fifteen minute drive from the central city, so whichever Christchurch car hire company you choose, your destination won’t be far away.
The absolute must-see for the city right now is the quirky container mall in the heart of the central business district. Amidst broken buildings and empty lots, coloured shipping containers have been converted into shops and cafes. The ambience there is positive, as the colour of the containers and the joy of the people milling around the area is ebullient and infectious. Strange but true, there are currently over three million dollars worth of road cones across Christchurch streets.
Most of the roads around the central city are now open, with the last of them scheduled to be fully open by the end of June this year. The roads themselves are greatly improved from the state they were in two years ago.
But it is still important to know a few things before embarking on a journey in or around the city. Firstly, keep a map handy, and be prepared to use it. Even the locals have to find new routes around the city as roadworks cover the city, blocking off roads and sending you in different directions. Usually, a sign-posted detour will guide you through the maze and get you there via the scenic route.
Some suburbs received more damage than others, so the roads might still be bumpy in places. A good way to deal with this is to keep your speed down, and watch the vehicle ahead of you to spot any dips or swerves.
As Christchurch rebuilds, tourists are welcomed to the city, and any local will happily point you in the right direction.