Vibrant year ahead for Christchurch - Canterbury

Vibrant year ahead for Christchurch - Canterbury

Christchurch city and the Canterbury region are in full swing for 2012 hosting international buskers, golfers and garden aficionados this summer, with plenty more to come.

Described by the Lonely Planet as a “vibrant city in transition, coping resiliently and creatively,” Christchurch is showing off its vibrancy with new developments popping up all over the place.

Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive Kevin Bowler says the city of Christchurch will take time to recover, but the resilience of the tourism industry is phenomenal.

Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter says that as the city approaches the one year anniversary of the February earthquake, the sense of optimism in the region is strong.

“Christchurch and the Canterbury region have continued to welcome visitors to the area over the past year. There is a vibrant range of tourism activities and experiences for visitors to enjoy during their stay both in Christchurch and the surrounding regions.

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“As a result, for the year ending September 2011, 47 percent of all visitors have continued to spend a night in Canterbury as part of their New Zealand stay, against 56 percent a year before.”

2012 in Christchurch
Major 2012 events have already included a successful World Buskers Festival which drew a total audience of around 330,000 spectators. The 11-day festival (19 - 29 January) featured 60 acts from New Zealand and around the world.

And, Christchurch has just hosted some of the world’s best women golfers at the 2012 ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Golf Open (17 - 19 February) held at Pegasus Golf Course.

Next up, there’s the annual Ellerslie International Flower Show (7 - 11 March), and Canterbury’s Crusaders Rugby Team will square off against South Africa’s Cheetahs on 24 March in their new temporary stadium at Rugby League Park.

The Rugby World Cup winning All Blacks will also play one of six international test matches in 2012 at the revamped stadium, which has become the interim home of rugby in Christchurch.

AMI Stadium, the traditional home of Christchurch rugby, was severely damaged in the February 2011 earthquake, and remains unavailable for 2012. The NZ government will underwrite the NZ$20 million stadium redevelopment cost with funding support from Christchurch City Council and the New Zealand Rugby Union.

Creative projects
There are many surprises in the Christchurch rebuild with Kiwi innovations and unique ideas in the pipeline, including some creative community projects that are filling neighbourhood gaps.

Re:Start - a funky new pop-up container mall - is attracting Christchurch locals back into their city centre for a unique new shopping experience. The colourful retail precinct with 27 stores, includes High Street brands, upmarket boutiques, cafés and a department store.

Lyttelton, the historic village surrounding the port of Christchurch, has a new petanque pitch and temporary art installations thanks to the Gap Filler Project - an urban regeneration initiative spearheaded by local artist curator Coralie Winn. Gap Filler activates creative projects on vacant sites with the aim of keeping the city dynamic and vibrant.

Meanwhile, other sites around the city centre are being transformed into beautiful green spaces for outdoor events and entertainment under the Greening the Rubble initiative. This volunteer project is creating temporary public parks and gardens on empty sites, usually in commercial rather than residential streets.

The Christchurch Art Gallery has launched its Outer Spaces programme placing artworks on a free trail, in spaces ‘outside the box’.

Cardboard cathedral
Plans are underway to temporarily replace the Christchurch Cathedral with a cardboard cathedral.

The Christchurch Anglican diocese has commissioned renowned Japanese architect Shigeru Ban to design a cathedral capable of seating more than 700 people.

The temporary cathedral, which would be constructed of locally produced cardboard tubes erected in an A-shape over a foundation of shipping containers, would be available as a venue for both religious services and concerts.

A small area central city business district is cordoned off from the public as demolition and rebuilding continues. The cordon is shrinking on a regular basis.