CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND

Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island and unfortunately, has become known in recent years for it's devastating earth quakes. In 2011, the city was rocked by a quake of a 6.3 magnitude and killed 185 people from over 20 different countries. Christchurch's infrastructure had been weakened previously and aftershocks made it even more difficult to rebuild. Four years later, rubble remains but the city has made huge efforts with urban regeneration plans. Innovative businesses and buildings have popped up as the city rebuilds and colorful street art is around every corner, showing the resiliency and creativity of the community. 

After St John the Baptist Church was demolished after the earthquake, Japanese artist Shigeru Ban designed the transitional Cardboard Cathedral. 

After St John the Baptist Church was demolished after the earthquake, Japanese artist Shigeru Ban designed the transitional Cardboard Cathedral

185 white chairs in honor of all the 185 people who were lost in the earthquake. A single flower on each. 

185 white chairs in honor of all the 185 people who were lost in the earthquake. A single flower on each. 

The earthquake actually ended up revitalizing the city's arts scene. The Christchurch Art Gallery installed works on outside walls and billboards, creating temporary exhibitions and installations all over the city. I found this gem on a street fence. 

The earthquake actually ended up revitalizing the city's arts scene. The Christchurch Art Gallery installed works on outside walls and billboards, creating temporary exhibitions and installations all over the city. I found this gem on a street fence. 

We met up with one of the charming tour directors from Sandy's work for a coffee and he showed us his (award winning!) garden and gave us local tips for visiting Christchurch. 

We met up with one of the charming tour directors from Sandy's work for a coffee and he showed us his (award winning!) garden and gave us local tips for visiting Christchurch. 

An authentic New Zealand award winning bloom. 

An authentic New Zealand award winning bloom. 

Walking around Christchurch was a bit eery with the crumbled concrete from it's leveled buildings and you could feel the vibe of a quiet city still tip-toeing in transition, post-devastation.

But mostly, it was inspiring to see their commitment to keeping their art and culture alive. If there's one city in New Zealand worth dropping a few dollars in, it's Christchurch. I'd recommend supporting their local economy by hitting up Re:Start, a food truck/shopping area built from shipping containers. Go for a kebab from Dimitri's Souvlaki followed by real fruit ice cream from Berry Healthy. And take some novelty candy from Johnson's Grocery for the road. Good food for a good cause.