Christchurch with kids—a little shaky, but wonderful


By Olivia Pigeot

I had been a little nervous about coming to Christchurch, but have family we wanted to visit.  They assured me that yes they are still having after shocks but very small ones.

Our first night here, we had five aftershocks. Welcome to Christchurch! It was a bit freaky, like being in a big jumping castle. My Little Guy slept blissfully through it, while I freaked out and his father was highly amused. Basically it’s a part of life here and you do get used to it. But there are so many great things about beautiful Christchurch it would be a shame not to visit, just coz a few little shakes.

Yesterday we decided to check out the Christchurch city centre. This was the worst hit area in the February earthquake. Call it a ghoulish curiosity if you like but we wanted to see for ourselves. For my partner, who was born & bred here, it is quite horrifying. Colombo and Manchester streets look exactly like we saw on the news—pretty damn bad.

Approximately 800 buildings are down, and there are cranes everywhere, actively demolishing. (Our toddler loved the diggers—it was a very exciting visit for him!)

Unfortunately most of the major sports facilities are ruined and the beautiful cathedral is now down to a 1/3 of its original height. The Museum has reopened after some repair; the old historic Arts Centre is not yet accessible but should be soon. However the ‘Re:Start’ Initiative has begun with Cashel Mall transformed into a cool colourful shopping precinct. Containers have been shipped in & painted all different colours housing brand new shops & cafes with decks off them. There are heaps of potted flowers & plants all around & Ballantynes still has their beautiful Christmas puppet displays in the windows. Cashel Mall is well worth a visit, especially if you like to shop!

There is some debate about the rebuilding of the city centre at the moment. Most of the business has moved to the outer suburbs. Accommodation is also mainly suburban hotels & motels. There are no issues with the airport. And you can hire a car or campervan and drive 3 hours either side of Christchurch to see what the amazing South Island has to offer.

Right now the weather is a very pleasant 24 degrees. The sun is shining, ocean sparkling and the locals are happy. There are lots of kids playgrounds everywhere, kilometres of sand, loads of bike tracks, an animal park, a zoo, indoor play areas, beautiful mountains & the Alps a short drive away…. not to mention great cafes & restaurants & GREAT wineries! To top it off, there is the International Busker’s Festival, so there’s plenty of entertainment to be had! In short we have lots to discover in our 2 weeks of adventure. Even with the occasional shake…