The South Island’s biggest city, Christchurch is now inextricably linked with the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, which leveled the planned city center and many historic buildings. The city has shown resilience and ingenuity by erecting new projects such as the Re:START mall, a shopping center and public space made up of colorful shipping containers outfitted as boutiques and cafés. Deserted buildings and gaping holes left by the quakes have been replaced by pop-up restaurants, art installations and even a cardboard cathedral. In spite of the many original buildings lost, Christchurch maintains its classic English feel, with lush botanical gardens and Edwardian punting boats cruising along the Avon River. Outside the city, the Canterbury region stretches from the ocean to the Southern Alps, with opportunities for adventure sports, wildlife viewing and winetasting. Whether you want to ski or swim, Christchurch is an ideal jumping-off point from which to enjoy all the South Island has to offer.
Like Christchurch on the other side of the Port Hills, Lyttelton was devastated and redefined by earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. The historic port town is still reinventing itself as a sustainable community, with an eclectic mix of eateries and a lively Saturday farmers market. Historically, Lyttelton has served as a gateway to Canterbury and the South Island and as an important commercial seaport, and additionally as a launching point for expeditions to Antarctica.