Normality returning after Christchurch quake
17 Sep 2010
The state of emergency has been lifted in New Zealand’s Canterbury region and life is returning to normal two weeks on from the serious earthquake on 4 September.
Visitors are being welcomed back to Christchurch and the Canterbury region where local authorities are focusing on rebuilding and recovery.
A few isolated areas of the central city and some older damaged buildings remain cordoned off for safety reasons. Police and army staff will continue to patrol quake-affected area as Operation Reassurance remains in effect.
Christchurch and parts of Canterbury have been reeling from the 7.1 magnitude earthquake as well as a series of after shocks in the past two weeks.
But miraculously there were no fatalities and only a small percentage of the area was badly affected.
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says the city is now moving from a state of emergency into a state of urgency - transferring from a civil defence situation back closer to business as usual.
"This doesn't change the fact that many people are still facing great difficulties, and resolving these issues will continue to be a focus as we rebuild our region. As mayors we have jointly dedicated ourselves to finding as many lasting solutions as possible," he says.
Tourist operators and accommodation providers were virtually untouched by the serious earthquake.
Many are offering attractive financial incentives to woo people back to the region - always a popular destination in spring - with Christchurch known as New Zealand's garden city.
Most bars and restaurants, including 14 of the 20 restaurants currently taking part in the Feast of Canterbury restaurant challenge have re-opened, as have the bulk of the city’s shops.
The Christchurch Art Gallery has reopened after acting as Civil Defence headquarters for the week after the earthquake. The gallery is preparing to host a major touring exhibition by Australian sculptor Ron Mueck from 2 October.
The message from local tourism operators is that they are operating on a ‘safety first’ policy, so if they are open then it is safe for visitors.
Visitor information is being updated regularly on Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism’s website - christchurchnz.com and newzealand.com.
Bus, rail and tram services are operating largely as usual in and around Christchurch.
North of Christchurch, State Highway 1 and the railway line at Kaikoura, which has been partially closed due to a large land slip, have re-opened.
Initially just one lane of the highway is open but both should be operational within a few days.
The TranzCoastal passenger train service between Christchurch and Picton is also expected to resume services today (17.09.2010). A bus replacement service has been in operation since the land slip.
Christchurch tourism bounces back
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