FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Tour a Newly Rebuilt Christchurch

by Sharon King Hoge

Feb 11, 2020

PHOTO: © TRAVELLING-LIGHT – DREAMSTIME.COM

February 2020

CHRISTCHURCH IS REBOUNDING from 2010 and 2011 earthquakes that devastated the city, destroying 80 percent of the downtown Central Business District and killing 185 citizens. When I visited in 2012, the ruins of the central city were cordoned off — I recall peering through barriers to see the fallen tower of the stately cathedral and then driving by the temporary Cardboard Cathedral built of cardboard tubes, timber and steel. As that temporary church continues to hold services, the church spire is displayed at the Quake City Museum, and plans to rebuild — not replace — the cathedral are in discussion.

In the rest of the CBD Red Zone, recovery is well underway. Guided tours pass the new Convention Centre rising on Cathedral Square; the rebuilt Town Hall of Performing Arts; and the Memorial Wall, with a spray fountain where visitors wet their hands in the Māori tradition of cleansing after visiting a grave. Street art walking tours focus on many colorful outdoor murals. The bustling new Riverside Market attracts visitors to galleries, restaurants, bars and nightclubs of The Terrace.

Christchurch serves as a base camp for active exploring. Chill Bike Tours rents vintage bicycles for pedaling past heritage sites. Flat-bottomed punts offer rides on the river, and a gondola rises up to the Port Hills. A hop-on, hop-off Tram Tour passes 17 stops with commentary showcasing the Botanic Gardens, the Gothic Revival-style Arts Centre, the Canterbury Museum and visits to affluent coastal suburbs. Even adults acclaim Margaret Mahy Playground, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.

In “the city of pioneering women,” the mayor and CEO are female, and you can find lists of workshops, performances and other activities for women online. Efficient guides listed on the ToursBy Locals website help make arrangements for specialty activities. One guide features visits to privately owned gardens, including one with a forest of sacred, native, giant kauri trees. Another takes visitors to the merino sheep farm his family has owned since 1884 to interact with neighbors, feed the chickens and watch dogs herding the sheep. Guests dine on local produce — mutton, yogurt, cabbage, pears, peaches — and taste Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and other wines from nearby vineyards such as Greystone, Pyramid Valley and Waipara Springs.

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