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 a city in the midst of rebuilding and reinvention. The new city will never replace the old one and that’s not a bad thing. In every way, Christchurch is a city on the rise—literally, as architects, designers, and artists combine skills to reshape the city. On the rise, too, is a sense of excitement and positivity for Christchurch’s future. New cafes, bars, and hotels are opening (heck, by the time I’m done typing this paragraph, another will have opened its door) and the business district and central city are at work again.

Most visitors make the mistake of only staying for a night or two. But given its proximity to the snow-capped mountains, hot springs, family-owned vineyards, and seaside communities with long sandy beaches, Christchurch is the ideal base for day trips to adventures further afield.