The Changing City
Five years on from the devastating February 2011 earthquakes, the city of Christchurch is rebuilding itself as a modern, future city, led by Mayor Lianne Dalziel.
The view over the city from the top floor of the City Council offices looks more like a forest dotted with buildings than the other way around.
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says it’s easy to see why the city has a reputation for being The Garden City, albeit now version 2.0.
“The city now is reinventing itself, and what it means to be a garden city. Christchurch is becoming a city that’s more innovative, more creative, and more focused on sustainability” says Dalziel.
An advocate for the environment and climate change issues, Dalziel joined mayors around New Zealand in signing a ‘local government leader’s climate change deceleration’, and spoke at the Christchurch Climate Change March held on 28 December 2015, ahead of the global conference in Paris.
“Christchurch has a really important part to play in finding some of the solutions the world is reaching out for. We’ve become a lot more open as a city” she said.
“Christchurch has a really important part to play in finding some of the solutions the world is reaching out for. We’ve become a lot more open as a city."Lianne Dalziel - The Mayor of Christchurch
Dalziel says this included being open to new people, new ideas and new ways of doing things, and the overall feeling is of a place where “pretty much anything is possible”.
Five years on from the major February earthquakes, Dalziel says the city has come a long way, but still has a way to go.
“The city has its insurance settled, the council-operated Art Gallery reopened in late December last year, and the Margaret Mahy playground has been in action, flooded with thousands of children since opening.
“Last year ended on a bit of a high point really. There’s just a real sense of momentum”.
2016 is set to be a big year for the city, with major key projects on the move. The Cashmere Adventure Park, with support from the council, will be the largest mountain bike facility in the Southern Hemisphere, and a major drawcard.
Tourism numbers to the city are growing, and are expected to reach record numbers this year. This included greater connectivity to China, with China Southern Air flights coming from Guangzhou, and the major Australian cites.
“Christchurch is so important as the pivotal point of the South Island, and its connections to the rest of the world.
“Christchurch is so important as the pivotal point of the South Island, and its connections to the rest of the world."Lianne Dalziel - The Mayor of Christchurch
“It’s the South Island that has iconic tourist images and scenery. Christchurch is an international gateway to the rest of the south”.
According to the Dalziel, people are now planning to come again in five or ten years’ time, to see what has become of the innovative, transitional city.
She says the people of Christchurch are what makes the city unique and different, as well as what it has to offer in terms of security.
“Even through we’ve been through some difficult times, I’m seeing huge potential, and that’s the sort of thing that’s going to make the city special.
“There’s a lot to do in Christchurch and we certainly welcome people here.”
Mayor Lianne Dalziel’s Top 5 Things to do in Christchurch
- Hagley Park and the botanic gardens. I walk around them every weekend, and they’re an incredible asset to the city.
- While you’re there, might as well check out the museum and art gallery, and have a look around the Art Centre which is starting to re-open.
- The Art Gallery is fantastic to have a look around.
- The gondola and tram and both Christchurch icons.
- The Antarctic centre – only one of five gateway cities in the world. The Antarctic centre tells a story not only of the history of the Antarctic but also the importance in knowing about our future in terms of climate change.
How to Get There
In New Zealand’s South Island, Christchurch is the country’s second-largest city. It has an international airport, and there are regular flights from other domestic centres.
Best Time to Visit
In autumn, the changing of the leaves makes the city’s historic districts especially beautiful. With ski areas such as Porters and Mt Hutt nearby, you can enjoy a winter wonderland. Known as “the Garden City”, Christchurch comes to life in spring, while summer is an opportunity to enjoy some of the city’s 40 safe swimming beaches.