Standing outside the grand Isaac Theatre Royal, it’s hard to believe it hasn’t looked that way for the past 100 years.
Although undergoing major structural repairs following the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, the theatre has been fully restored with heritage features retained or replaced when necessary. It’s a permanent reminder of the rich history of Christchurch the only operating Edwardian theatre in Australasia.
Neil Cox, who became the theatre’s General Manager in 2009 and is now Chief Executive, says there was never really a question of whether it would be restored to its original design. However, the restoration project required significant support from artists, patrons and major funding entities. “It wasn’t until the $6 million Lottery Significant Projects Fund was confirmed in February 2014 that we knew we had the funding needed to complete the task. It was quite an emotional day.”
Cox says although the theatre retains its original look and feel, with its restored façade and “glorious” dome, the rebuild provided an opportunity to intertwine some much-needed enhancements to the foyer space and technical operations. “Now she is equipped to handle any theatrical touring show.”
With endorsements from Royal New Zealand Ballet and New Zealand Opera, it is “one of the big three” in the country for theatrical and dance productions. The theatre is also home to the Christchurch screenings of the annual New Zealand International Film Festival. “Our public areas are now world class and will be constantly maintained and enhanced in the years ahead.”
Neil Cox’s top five things to do in Christchurch
- Experiencing the new fabulous restaurants and cuisine that is springing up all over town.
- A walk through the CBD on a tour of the ever-growing and spectacular street art
- A summer day out at the new Hagley Oval is fabulous – it’s a superb place to watch cricket.
- Live entertainment of any genre is invigorating and a major part of life in Christchurch.
- A night out at the Isaac Theatre Royal – of course.
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.