Open for business: The George

Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism has released an update of businesses open around the region following the massive February earthquake.

Hotels open in Canterbury
Hotels in and around Christchurch are starting to re-open. Between Christchurch International Airport and the central city there are currently 15 hotels open, including the 5-star The George Hotel, which boasts two top class restaurants, and the Chateau on the Park. There also 105 motels open in the city.

Tourism attractions open
The International Antarctic Centre, Tranz-Alpine rail experience, Airforce Museum, Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, Tanks for Everything and Up, Up, Up and Away ballooning adventures are just some of Christchurch’s key tourism attractions back in operation since the February 22 earthquake.
The International Antarctic Centre (IAC) re-opened on March 26 and is showcasing its new movie experience, ‘Ice Voyage’, a 4D movie that involves an all-round total sensory experience, and allows the audience to feel part of a real Antarctic storm.

Day spa opens at Chateau on the Park
A new day spa has opened in Christchurch in what many are interpreting as a sign of confidence in the city’s ability to recover from last month’s devastating earthquake.
The new Linden Leaves Day Spa is the first of its kind in New Zealand and has opened in the beautiful Chateau on the Park hotel, opposite Christchurch’s famed Hagley Park. The spa offers a range of relaxing, pampering skincare and massage treatments for men and women.
“It’s great that Linden Leaves has pushed ahead with its plan to set up a day spa in Christchurch despite the events of the past few weeks. It’s a real sign of the confidence people have that Christchurch will come through this difficult time and again be a world-class destination,” said Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter.
“People are committed to rebuilding this great city and already we’re getting pledges from iconic businesses, like our premier department store Ballantynes, that they will stay in the central city and keep its heart beating. That’s fantastic news.”

A salute to Australian USARs
Australian USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) teams played a huge role in saving lives and searching buildings in Christchurch during the initial weeks after the quake. One team of 80 left Christchurch on 5 March after two weeks of duty, but not before Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism organised for them to have a few hours rest and relaxation, away from the destruction of the CBD. The group travelled 30 minutes north to Pegasus Golf Club, on beautiful Pegasus Bay, where they enjoyed golf and boating on the lake, as well as a chance for a coffee or beer relaxing in the big leather armchairs of the Pegasus Golf Club’s well-appointed bars and cafes.

A high profile visit
Soon after the quake we were pleased to welcome Christchurch & Canterbury ambassador and Emmy-award winning TV presenter Phil Keoghan to our city. The host of the Amazing Race and CBS producer Jack Renaud flew to Christchurch to film stories for CBS, and Channel 7 in Australia.
Phil was overwhelmed by the spirit of Cantabrians and the work we are all doing to support each other. He went out with the Student Volunteer Army and the Farmy Army (the Federated Farmers-backed group of 800 farmers), met old school and work friends, including Mayor Bob Parker and gave a huge boost to everyone he met along the way.
Since returning to LA, Phil has been back working hard to get the message out that the Canterbury region and New Zealand are still in business, and the best way to support us is to travel here. And he got his rival (and friend) Jeff Probst, host of ‘Survivor’ to produce video messages for Canterbury.
Phil promises to be back in Spring.

What’s coming up
There are still plenty of events planned for Christchurch, including New Zealand Cup and Show Week, Le Race -the annual Christchurch to Akaroa cycle race, and the BMW New Zealand Golf Open at Clearwater Resort.
“We’re trying to keep as many community and major city events going as we can. Not only have the organisers already invested a lot of time and energy into these events, but we’re sure the residents of Christchurch will want some light relief in the coming months,” said Christchurch City Council Marketing Manager Richard Stokes.

Thinking outside the square
Just before the February 22 quake, Mark and Nikki Gilbert expanded their successful Hassle-free Tours business offering high country 4WD tours to include a Discover Christchurch Tour in a restored London bus. Now they are quickly having to diversify and change their business model to cope with a completely changed city landscape.
“We are taking a long-term view and rethinking the business. This quiet period is giving us time to think, make some changes and improvements, and we are finding ways to adapt the business and grow it in a different way,” Mark Gilbert said.
“One idea is to create new unique tours with specialist guides aimed at locals and visitors, and an offering that people wouldn’t be able to do on their own. For example we are thinking about putting our historic bus together with the Weka Pass Steam railway for a family day out with a unique heritage theme,” he said.

Memorable start for new restaurant
In Christchurch’s historic port town of Lyttelton, a new recently-re-opened fish restaurant is giving the quake-weary Lyttelton residents a taste of better things to come.
Fisherman’s Wharf was a San Francisco-style casual fish bar, due to open on Wednesday, February 23. But after February 22, Fisherman’s Wharf had more in common with San Francisco than chef, manager and co-owner Lloyd Millar ever imagined.
The building was left largely unscathed by the quake, but had no water supply. Millar had water containers shipped in so water could be pumped to the restaurant. It even had its own portaloos, and was able to open on February 26, the Saturday after the earthquake.
Since the earthquake, people have swarmed to the restaurant. “It’s been crazy. People are just so thankful there’s somewhere to go, to meet someone,” Millar said.

Outside of Christchurch, it’s life as normal
Here are some updates from around the region:
-The French inspired seaside settlement of Akaroa, on the Banks Peninsula, was unaffected by the earthquake and has been hosting cruise ships that were due to call at Lyttelton harbour. 
-The Hurunui region is located an easy 45 minute drive north of Christchurch International Airport and has not been affected by the earthquake at all. Popular thermal resort town Hanmer Springs is just a short, yet spectacular, 90-minute drive north from Christchurch and many Christchurch locals have taken a well-deserved break here, and a drive through the Waipara wine region, since the quake.
-The Waimakariri District, just 20 minutes north of Christchurch International Airport, was rattled by the quake but undamaged. All its businesses, services and recreational facilities are operating, including its popular Food and Wine trail
-Kaikoura, located just two and a half hours from Christchurch, is New Zealand’s eco-tourism capital and has a range of activities from whale watching to wilderness walks. There has been no earthquake damage in Kaikoura and experiences offered to visitors are as amazing as the surrounding landscape.
-The sensational Selwyn stretches across the great Canterbury plains and is bound by the mighty Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers with Arthur’s Pass National Park in the high Southern Alps to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east.  This area of ‘middle earth’ New Zealand has grand scenery and offers a variety of activities and pure Kiwi experiences.
-Located in the Heart of Canterbury, Mid Canterbury is a region of sweeping plains, stretching from the magnificent Southern Alps to the Pacific Ocean and bordered by spectacular braided rivers and high country lakes.
-Timaru and the South Canterbury region are operating as usual with effective infrastructure, commercial accommodation and business services.
-The Aoraki Mount Cook Mackenzie region is fully functioning and it is business as usual in the four towns and villages of the region. The accommodation and activities continue to actively welcome all visitors.
-Waimate comes close to being a perfect example of a New Zealand rural town and its wide spacious streets, valued collection of Edwardian buildings (including several churches of historic importance), beautiful parks and gardens create a relaxed, friendly environment for both residents and visitors alike.