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Christchurch is re-emerging as one of New Zealand's "most exciting cities'', according to travel guide Lonely Planet.
Despite more than a year of earthquakes altering the city beyond recognition, Lonely Planet author Brett Atkinson said there was still plenty to do in the Garden City.
"Our latest visit was unlike any other Lonely Planet research gig, with virtually all of the bars, cafes and restaurants recommended in our 2010 New Zealand guidebook no longer open. But amid the occasional uncertainty of aftershocks, Christchurch is re-emerging as one of NZ's most exciting cities,'' Atkinson wrote.
"If you're heading to the South Island of New Zealand, definitely spend a few days in the city. There's still plenty to do, and you'll be supporting the new businesses inspiring Christchurch's renaissance. Note that there is considerable demand for Christchurch accommodation, and booking ahead is strongly recommended.''
He said "SoMo'' - the area south of Moorhouse Avenue - was Christchurch's "most dynamic neighbourhood'', and complimented Addington as the new hub for live entertainment.
"Christchurch's iconic Court Theatre has relocated into a restored warehouse and Dux Live has opened as a music venue. Look forward to a combination of beers from the Dux de Lux microbrewery and local and overseas acts. From April 2012, rugby fans can watch Christchurch's beloved Crusaders at their new home ground in Addington.''
Atkinson noted that while the city had lost much of its precious heritage buildings, its charm remained.
"While much of the city's heritage architecture has been damaged by earthquakes, Christchurch's traditional English ambience is still in evidence,'' he writes. "Local students punt visitors languidly along the slow-moving Avon River, and the Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park remain some of NZ's most impressive public spaces.''
The CBD's new Cashel St pop-up container mall got a mention, as did other containers across the city that have been converted into shops, bars and restaurants.
"While the city's rebuild is carefully planned, the humble container has emerged as a funky option to kick-start Christchurch's retail and hospitality sectors.''
Atkinson recommended visitors obtain free maps from the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority website in order to keep up with the frequent road closures due to the quakes.
- Paul Harper of nzherald.co.nz