Visitor friendly, clean, with beautiful parks and river landscaping, stylish shops and cafes, and great art galleries, but you can't talk about Christchurch without mentioning the devastating earthquake of 2011.
The sounds of the city are cicadas in wonderful old trees, the old fashioned bell of the trams which do city tours and construction site noises from the extensive work going on to rebuild after the violent destruction of so much of the city eight years ago on 22nd of February.
A chair to represent each of the 185 people who died in the earthquake. Dining chairs, a rocking chair, armchairs, a wheelchair, a stool, a high chair, an exercise chair, a beanbag, a baby car seat....on a piece of waste ground with a small notice board and a few poems about grief pinned up. The installation is by artist Peter Majendie.
I walked there early one morning and was quite overwhelmed. It was close to the anniversary of my husband Barry's death and as I read the poems tears streamed down my face. You were invited to sit on any of the chairs but no-one did. They seemed sacrosanct and the few people around were very respectful, quietly taking a photgraph, as I did, and walking away silently.
I crossed the road to visit the Cardboard Cathedral which was what I had really come to see. I wanted to just sit and compose myself, but found it busy and noisy and felt people were less respectful here than at the memorial across the road - even taking photographs inside the chapel set aside for private prayer.
It is a lovely simple building (see here) but you enter through the shop (of course they have to raise money to restore the old cathedral) and in the quite small space there are 3 large paintings, 8 sculptures and other objects, 2 banners, 25 large phtographs and 2 flower arrangements, and a guided tour was going on.
I found the Art Gallery much more conducive to quiet contemplation, which seeems odd.
Here is one of the poems from the chairs memorial.