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The Christchurch Earthquake Before and After (What's It Like to Visit?)

Understand the devastation of the Christchurch earthquake and see photos from before and after. Visit the South Island of New Zealand and find out what Christchurch is like today.
The 2011 Christchurch earthquake was centered just outside this vibrant city on New Zealand's South Island causing mass devastation. 

We visited Christchurch in 2007 as part of a three week trip around New Zealand and it was one of the most memorable parts of our trip. When we returned to New Zealand over a decade later in 2018, we were curious to see how the city had changed. 

Read on to see photos from before and after the September 2010 and February 2011 earthquakes and find out what Christchurch is like today.
Christchurch Cathedral after the earthquake

Canturbury Earthquake 2010 and Christchurch Earthquake 2011 Facts

The 2010 Christchurch earthquake that struck the Canterbury region of New Zealand on September 4, 2010 registered 7.1 on the Richter scale and left 2 dead and 100 injured. Less than 6 months later, another earthquake struck within a few kilometers of Christchurch city. While slightly lower in magnitude (6.2 on the Richter scale), the 2011 quake on February 22, 2011 left 185 people dead and approximately 2000 injured. At the same time, the iconic tower of Christchurch Cathedral fell, forever changing the face of the city. 

New Zealand's Christchurch Cathedral Before and After the Earthquake

Christchurch Cathedral in New Zealand before the earthquake
When we visited Christchurch in 2007, I took this image of the beautiful Christchurch Cathedral spire. Upon our return in 2018, the church tower was still completely gone and large gaping holes had appeared in the roof of the church. The facade was reinforced and being held up by metal supports. Such a tragic loss for the town.
Christchurch after the earthquake: cathedral rubble

Reflecting on The Chief Post Office Tower in Christchurch Before and After the Earthquake

Christchurch Before and After the earthquake: The Chief Post Office Tower
Across the street from the Christchurch Cathedral, we stopped in front of the Chief Post Office Tower. When we visited in 2007, the building featured a lovely clock and picturesque windows. We took pictures of Christchurch now and saw that both the clock and windows were all boarded up after the 2011 earthquake.

Christchurch Today: What Remains Unchanged?

The Path Along the Avon River

What is Christchurch like now? Along the Avon River
Some things in Christchurch remain unchanged before and after the earthquake. A walk along the Avon River is still as picturesque as it was a decade ago.
Waterwheel along the Avon River in Christchurch, New Zealand

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Have you been to New Zealand before? Check out our 2 week itinerary for second time visitors. You could go wine tasting in Marlborough or beer tasting in Nelson. Why not spend a day in Auckland and embark on some cool Auckland day trips. Feeling ambitious, embark on a drive from Auckland and Paihia in the Bay of Islands.

The Christchurch Botanic Gardens

What is Christchurch Like Now? Christchurch Botanic Gardens fountain
The Christchurch Botanic Gardens also seemed largely the same to us before and after the earthquake. We took the opportunity to stroll through the gardens (admission is free) and admire the colorful Victorian-era fountain plus copious flowers and New Zealand birds.
Flowers and birds at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Raw Pictures of Christchurch Now: The Devastating Impact of the Earthquake

Christchurch earthquake before and after: Sign reading "Keep Out: Asbestos, Mulitple Building Hazards Exist"
Sadly, much of Christchurch still remains damaged even though 7 years have passed since the earthquake struck.
Pictures of Christchurch now: street art
Graffiti and boarded up buildings surround you as you walk through town and Christchurch is now much quieter than I remember from our first trip. 
Pictures of Christchurch now: a boarded up and abandoned building
Shipping containers are used creatively to prop up buildings and provide shelter for businesses who can no longer occupy their original premises.
Christchurch today after the earthquake: shipping containers outside a damaged building
Many historic buildings are supported by metal frames to guard against additional damage.
Pictures of Christchurch now: metal supports holding up a building

Christchurch in Black and White: Capturing What Christchurch is Like Now

Christchurch after the earthquake in Black and White: Bridge of Remembrance and Lawrie & Wilson Auctioneers
Given the post-Christchurch Earthquake atmosphere, some black and white photos felt appropriate to convey the sense of desolation. Sturdy brick buildings and monuments contrast with rubble and raw street art.
Christchurch now: Rubble and street art in black and white

Is Christchurch, New Zealand Worth Visiting Today?

Street art in Christchurch New Zealand: colorful bird
Christchurch was one of our favorite destinations in New Zealand when we visited in 2007. Is Christchurch worth visiting today in the aftermath of the earthquake? I say a resounding "yes". It may be tempting to pass by Christchurch without stopping but if you make the time to spend a few days here, you can really help the local businesses who are still struggling to pick up the pieces after this natural disaster.

In particular, I recommend checking out local restaurants and craft beer bars. C1 espresso features great coffee, craft beer, and a pneumatic tube system for serving curly fries and sliders. The whole set-up just made me smile.
Things to do in Christchurch New Zealand: curly fries served in a pneumatic tube at C1 espresso
Grab a seat on a couch and sip a pint of craft beer at Volstead. You'll have to walk a fair distance from the city center to get here but it's not that far from the Christchurch Botanic Gardens (about a 20 minute walk in Riccarton).
Things to do in Christchurch New Zealand: Get a craft beer at Volstead Trading Company

I especially enjoyed the Rosa Gose from Beer Baronness Brewing Company which was refreshing and not too sweet.
Things to do in Christchurch New Zealand: Grab a burger at Velvet Burger in Riccarton
Indulge and grab a burger at Velvet Burger in Riccarton.

Map of Christchurch New Zealand Points of Interest

Check out this map of Christchurch to help you get your bearings when you visit. Click on the image of the map to open up an interactive version in Google Maps.

Map of Christchurch New Zealand

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: The Christchurch Earthquake Before and After (What's It Like to Visit?)
The Christchurch Earthquake Before and After (What's It Like to Visit?)
Understand the devastation of the Christchurch earthquake and see photos from before and after. Visit the South Island of New Zealand and find out what Christchurch is like today.
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog