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How is Christchurch, New Zealand Doing after the Earthquake?

February 21, 2013

I grew up in Christchurch and I recently came back for a short visit. Apart from visiting the family I was interested to see how the city has been doing since the earthquake a couple of years ago (in February 2011).

With a population of over 350,000 Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand and the third largest city in New Zealand.

Christchurch is also the gateway to the South Islands scenic attractions and the following photo shows the snow capped southern alps to the west of the city. I grew up with several ski fields under an hour’s drive away, but in spite of that I never learned how to ski. My parents were much more interested in going to the beach when the weather permitted it.


Christchurch lies in Canterbury, near the centre of the east coast of the South Island, east of the Canterbury Plains. It is located near the southern end of Pegasus Bay, and is bounded to the east by the Pacific Ocean coast and theestuary of the Avon and Heathcote Rivers (

The following satellite photo shows an overhead view of Christchurch and its environs. The city is bounded by the Port Hills to the south, and at the bottom of the photo you can see the port of Lyttelton.
Christchurch was settled by the British around 1850, initially as a church settlement. The city flourished and prospered over the years as an agricultural centre.
One of the landmarks of the city was the Christchurch Cathedral, built in the 19th Century. Even when I was growing up, the cathedral still dominated Cathedral Square, in the centre of the city.


On February 22, 2011 a major earthquake devastated the city, killing 185 people. The spire of the cathedral came done and many buildings were damaged. I came back for the second anniversary of the earthquake and I was wondering how well the city was recovering. My first impression was how busy the airport was. It has expanded tremendously since the last time I was here. I also got to view earthquake damage first hand. And parts of the city have not yet been rebuilt.


But don’t go looking in Christchurch for bargain basement real estate deals after the earthquake. It seems like the real estate market is thriving and hasn’t taken a hit since the earthquake. And the traffic, well it’s pretty bad.

Overall verdict? Some of the city sights are closed and the city centre hasn’t been fixed yet, but I am optimistic about the cities future. It seems that the city may end up moving a bit to the west, away from the swampiest areas that were hit hardest by the earthquake. And yes, enrollment is down a bit at the university, but I expect that will recover too.

Personally, I’m comforted, things are nowhere near as bad as I thought they might be, and I think that the long term prognosis for the city is good.


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