When I visited this town, it was still reeling and reconstructing after the major earthquake which had sadly hit it. The central area was mostly closed off for teardown and redevelopment, except for a special tour that can take you inside the “red zone” only if you sign several waivers about your life! Fortunately I did it, and came out with up close pictures showing the extent of the damages.

In this city I also had the best lamb dish ever! Lamb is great all over New Zealand but one little cafe here just makes it sing.

Aerial views of the beautiful mountain ranges surrounding the area

The “Earthquake Tour” showing various areas of damage and active reconstruction

Some other parts of the city which were mostly in good shape

The vibrant “container mall” district which was put together as a replacement for damaged shopping centers — also became a rising trend around the world!

The scenic waterfront and seaport areas just outside the city