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For 150 years pretty Christchurch was known as the Garden City. All that changed in February 2011 following the second destructive earthquake in 5 months. Today, in its post-earthquake garb, Christchurch is less about prettiness and more about rebuilding and reinvention. But a sense of excitement and positivity has replaced the angst that swept through 5 years ago. In every way, it is a city on the rise—literally, as architects, designers, and developers combine skills to reshape the past. New cafes, bars, and hotels are opening, and the business district and central city are at work again.

A bit of geography: the region of Canterbury extends from the Southern Alps to the Pacific Ocean, and its physical attractions are many. Within and just beyond Christchurch are rivers, harbors, hills, bays, and mountains. From this new-look city to French-settled Akaroa on Banks Peninsula, and the sea-girt town of Kaikoura, the region is buzzing with new purpose.