Phoenix from the Ashes: Unearthing My Home City

by Caroline Bain

Having up-rooted myself to move to Dunedin in pursuit of the student lifestyle, I can’t say I missed Christchurch all that much. That was back in 2015, and besides, I had lived there since I could remember. To be frank, there wasn’t much to miss- the city lay like a carcass against the Port Hills. The earthquake had gutted the central district before I was old enough to really take an interest in it.

Every summer I would come back home and Christchurch would be less familiar- a few new bars here, a new playground and numerous building sites. Very slowly and painfully, the city was resurrecting itself, or so I thought as I watched in disinterest from my new world in a different city. If it wasn’t for the guided city bike tour, I’m afraid to say I would be none the wiser, and twice as bored this summer.

Oh how Christchurch has changed! I found myself cycling through an amazing blend of retro historic buildings and brand new spanking ones, mashed together with pockets of colour and fairy-light  alleyways. The day was overcast but people sat outside, drinking coffee under verandas of boutique cafés. I could hear laughter coming from the Christchurch Tram as we followed it through the streets.  There were people everywhere! Licking ice-creams, hanging out of rooftops or darting in and out of shops, Christmas shopping.

If there was space to be creative it was filled with street art. I was directed around a quiet corner to find an enormous- 3 stories high- bony Moa bird spreadeagled across the wall. The Banksy style murals were a real highlight for me. Impressive as they were, I wouldn’t have a clue where they were if not pointed out to me.

We pedaled through a tunnel of green Oaks in Hagley Park, past Lake Victoria with its little model sail boats drifting along. This was the Christchurch I knew as a young child and remembered fondly, but I didn’t know the origin of the Park as a divide between the city and country folk in early days.

We winded around and across the Avon River, along a promenade open only 3 days before I was cycling along it. Through alleyways I didn’t know existed, all the while being pointed out the best spots to eat a or things to do on a rainy day. In just 2 hours, I feel I can get around without referring to Google Maps, plus I know all the sweet spots to try out! I can’t wait to drag my friends into the city boasting about a secret eatery that beats our usual go-to.

Because of the tour I have discovered that Christchurch has been reborn, it hums with new energy and mystery. It demands an explanation, and I could think of no better way to uncover its secrets than on a bike.


Caroline explored Christchurch city on our Daily City Bike Tour.

Start time: 9:30am or 1:00pm
Days: Monday - Saturday
Included: Local Guide, helmet and bike
Cost: $105/person. Min 2 people / max 8 people per guide
Departure Location: Chill Urban Tours, Ground Floor, Awly Building. 287 Durham St North, Christchurch. Start point can also be the location from accommodation.

Keen to get on a bike? Book now