Christchurch Rebuild Tour, is a guided bus tour of Christchurch city’s progress to rebuild following the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011.
At 4:35 am on Saturday 4th September 2010 a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck the Canterbury region. The epicentre of the quake was located 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of Christchurch, near Darfield. The earthquake caused power cuts and widespread damage particularly to Christchurch. There were no deaths as a result of the earthquake, but one person died of a heart attack.
Tragically on Tuesday 22 February 2011 at 12:51 pm a 6.3 earthquake struck. This quake was centred 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) west of Lyttelton and 10 kilometres (6 miles) south-east of Christchurch city centre. 185 people from more than 20 countries were killed, making it the second deadliest natural disaster in New Zealand history.
The tour, which departs from outside the Canterbury Museum (Rolleston Ave) daily at 11:00 am, lasts approximately 90 minutes. There is a driver and onboard guide from the Canterbury Museum that does an informative commentary accompanied by video and photographs. Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (0800 500 929) or from the i-SITE Visitor Centre, next to the Museum.
No tour is exactly the same as where the bus travels depends on traffic conditions and works that do. The bus may make stops were passengers can disembark with the guide.
Our tour made two stops. The first stop was at the site of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. It was the mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Christchurch. The buildings were designed by architect Francis Petre and completed in 1905. The Cathedral closed following the September earthquake. The parish moved St Mary’s Pro Cathedral (373 Manchester Street).
During the February earthquake the two bells towers at the front of the building collapsed along with much of the front façade. The dome, which had received major cracking was later removed, and the rear of the Cathedral was demolished. Also during the February quake the statue of Virgin Mary located in the north tower rotated 180 degrees to look out the window. The statue became a symbol of survival following quake.
In May this year it was announced the diocese has plans to attempt to preserve the nave as part of a rebuild.
The next stop was at the 185 Empty White Chairs installation on the site of the former St Paul’s Trinity Pacific Presbyterian Church on the corner of Madras and Cashel streets.
The memorial designed by artist Pete Majendie was previously located on the site of the former Oxford Terrace Baptist Church. Each white painted chair represents one of the lives lost in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. The installation sits on 185 square metres of ready made lawn.