New Regent Street, Christchurch CBD. ©

Urban explorer: Christchurch CBD

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If you’re visiting Christchurch and discovering the shiny new streets of the central business district, you won’t be alone.

Even the city’s longest-term residents are still finding their way in the ever-changing post-quake city. Here are three new places to explore in the city centre.

City Mall

City Mall is the three blocks of pedestrian mall that sit between the Bridge of Remembrance and the angled High Street.

The original mall was devastated by the quakes. Facades collapsed and several people died, despite the heroic efforts of ordinary Cantabrians who spend hours digging through rubble to rescue their fellow citizens. City Mall rose as the first part of the city to re-open post-quake with a collection of converted containers known as the Re:START mall. Originally intended to be there for six months, the colourful containers provided a central city shopping destination for six years, before moving out to make way for permanent developments. 

The new buildings have followed the necessities of the city blueprint, which required large developments so that laneways and courtyard spaces could be incorporated into the designs.

The BNZ Centre at 101 Cashel has the best example, with brightly coloured office balconies looking over a sunny square full of beanbags and eateries. This is also home to one of the city’s most beloved retailers, Scorpio Books.

The Crossing at the corner of High Street opened with Christchurch’s first H&M department store. It also has open internal spaces, a parking garage and even a supermarket. 

The Terrace

The City Mall reaches the Avon River at Oxford Terrace. Pre-quake, this was home to “The Strip," a burgeoning collection of bars and restaurants where the after-work crowd carried on until late in the night.

Alongside the Otākāro Avon River you’ll find The Terrace with a plethora of bars and restaurants to choose from.

Check out the tropical vibes at Amazonita, sip a bespoke brew at Craft Embassy, or try a cocktail upstairs at Botanic. True to the new Christchurch urban design aesthetic, its crisscrossed with laneways and balconies and spills into a new development designed for better access to the city’s iconic river.

Arts Centre 

This collection of 19th century Gothic Revival buildings were once the home of the University of Canterbury.

So nice to be back in my old hometown for a bit. #Christchurch #NewZealand

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The collection of 19th century Gothic Revival buildings at the Arts Centre were once the home of the University of Canterbury. A $290 million dollar restoration project (one of the world’s largest heritage projects) started after the earthquakes and now you’ll find a collection of shopseateries and galleries as well as Lumiere, an arthouse cinema where you can enjoy a craft beer or cocktail from in-house bar Bijou with your film. Also here is the Rutherford’s Den interactive museum, where you can explore the discoveries made by Ernest Rutherford and his peers on this very site in the early 1900s. The Arts Centre also host regular events – from classical music in the great hall to outdoor cinema showings in the grassy quad. 

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