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Christchurch is mapping out its active ‘pop-up city’ culture with a new interactive online tool listing places to go, things to do and where to find new and old-favourite restaurants, cafés and retail stores.
The map at findchch.com is mobile-friendly and populated with up-to-date information and hundreds of choices for accommodation, entertainment, parks and recreation, transport, info and services.
The growing lists demonstrate that there is still plenty to see and do in the city that is in post-earthquake recovery mode and looking ahead with the blueprint for redevelopment of the inner city area released last week.
Find: Chch (see, eat, do) is a Christchurch City Council initiative, and promotions advisor Lisa Hoffman says it will allow easy access to up-to-date information about the city.
"It's quick and easy to find what you are looking for - from markets to outlet stores, café and free wi-fi spots. And the great thing is it can be accessed from your smart phone while you're out and about," Hoffman says.
Each main group is divided into specific categories so that users can define their search to different types of accommodation or entertainment. Colour-coded flags pop up on the map linking to brief descriptions and contact details about each place.
As the city changes the map will be updated so users can easily find what's available.
The map is the latest in an on-going series of creative and innovative ideas that Christchurch locals have come up with as they work to rebuild community life in New Zealand’s third largest city.
Blog site popupcity.co.nz - created by Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism - provides another dynamic resource packed with information about what’s new and happening in the city.
"It’s important to us that people keep visiting the city - it’s still alive and it’s still beautiful - but you need good reasons to come, and here are some of them," says CCT chief executive Tim Hunter.
The blog tells the stories of Christchurch’s innovative Re:START container mall, pop-up hospitality scene, outdoor art installations and other creative community projects.
Re:START shopping mall
Humble shipping containers provided the inspiration behind the Re:START shopping mall but the design makeover on this cluster of uniform boxes has produced a funky retail and café precinct that’s become a major draw-card for visitors to the central city.
The outdoor retail space, anchored by the upmarket Ballantynes department store and open seven days, has grown to include 31 boutiques representing premium fashion labels, Kiwi favourites, food and coffee shops.
The container mall, which is surrounded by outdoor planting and recreation spaces, will stay in place until more permanent rebuilding is underway.
Containers have also popped up in other parts of the city as semi-permanent venues for some of Christchurch’s best loved bars and night spots, cafés and restaurants.
Others have reopened in new premises, like long-standing Italian restaurant Saggio di Vino which has reopened in a new building next door to the original site, French restaurant St Germain which is now operating out of the Heartland Hotel Cotswold, and Strawberry Fare -serving up sweet delights on the Hagley Park fringe.
Some sites around the city centre are being transformed into green spaces for outdoor events and entertainment under the Greening the Rubble initiative. This volunteer project is creating temporary public parks and gardens on empty sites, mostly in commercial rather than residential streets.
Containers have also inspired a giant art project on the road to the seaside suburb of Sumner. In place as a protective buffer zone between the road and the cliffs, the austere container walls are gradually transforming into a gallery of art covered by colourful stretched canvases.
Local resident Christine Reitze mobilised a global knitting community to create a tea cosy of brilliantly coloured peggy squares to cover one of the containers. She spent months arranging knit-ins, and sewing together panels contributed from around the world, including Britain, Germany, Sweden and Australia.
Temporary outdoor art installations, under The Gap Filler Project, have become a regular feature around the city which prides itself for a long heritage of arts and culture. These works have even inspired a blog created to document Christchurch’s evolving outdoor art scene. Art history honours graduate Reuben Woods launched whatisthatchch to provide a forum where people could see, discuss and share art in the street.
And, art lovers have just been treated to an amazing exhibition of larger-than-life bronze sculptures by Kiwi artist Michael Parekowhai - the two-part ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’, which also included a spectacular carved Steinway piano and live performances, was New Zealand’s contribution in the Venice Biennale 2011.
Ministry of Awesome
Creative genius has sparked the newly-established Ministry of Awesome - a group of Christchurch locals who have united to "water the seeds of awesome in Christchurch". Their aim is to help facilitate some of the amazing ideas that are brewing.
A competition to design a piece of sculpture to serve as a bicycle rack in the Re:START shopping precinct has inspiring some creative thinking around what a bike park could look like. Pencils, jandals, Maori designs, a cute dog and a circular pod are among the dozens of entries showing on online for public voting.
The final five ideas will go to a judging panel to decide on a winner, which will come to life in the hands of a Christchurch company that designs custom bike racks for overseas destinations.
Christchurch’s sprawling Hagley Park has hosted some major events in the past few months since the Events Village - created under a series of dome structures - was inaugurated for last year’s Rugby World Cup.
Christchurch Arts Festival (November 2011), World Buskers Festival (January 2012), Ellerslie Flower Show (March 2012) and NZ International Jazz & Blues Festival (April 2012) have attracted big crowds of locals and visitors. The Buskers Festival, running over 10 days and 11 nights, produced 500 performances with a total audience of 300,000.
For four weeks, beginning on 14 September, the NZ IceFest will transform the Events Village into Hagley Park Ice Station - a large scale event billed as "the next best thing to Antarctica". The programme covers everything from high profile scientific events to a sensory art exhibition, ice-skating and a 100-year Antarctic dinner.
The new NZ$4.62 million Court Theatre venue - recreated inside an old granary, and opened in October - is also drawing crowds to a full schedule of theatre events. This incredible community initiative funded and completed the building project in less than 12 months.
On the city outskirts, Clearwater championship golf course hosted the NZ Golf Open in December.
Major institutions that are open and operating include the Canterbury Museum, the Air Force Museum, and the International Antarctic Centre.
Looking to the stars
Christchurch International Airport is now the ‘gateway to the stars’ with the June announcement of the new Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve - the world’s largest night sky reserve over the nearby Tekapo and Mt Cook National Park region.
Meanwhile, spectacular Akaroa harbour, south of Christchurch on Banks Peninsula, hosted 82 cruise ships visits during the 2011/12 cruise season.
New Zealand’s largest hotel group, Accor, plans to open two new hotels in coming months. Hotel Ibis Christchurch is scheduled to re-open in September 2012, and Novotel Christchurch will follow in April 2013. And work is well underway on the new Latimer Hotel, in Latimer Square, due to be completed by January 2013.
The Christchurch blueprint also allows for a 2000-seat capacity convention centre - near the inner city and overlooking the Avon River - and including two new hotels.