Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial
The earthquakes changed Christchurch enormously. As a result of the 2011 earthquake, 185 people lost their lives, hundreds more were injured, thousands of homes were damaged, and more than half of the buildings in the central city had to be demolished.
Designed by Slovenian architect Grega Vezjak, the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial aimed to create something new in the damaged city, while memorializing those who died and providing a place for mourners to gather. The names of the 185 killed are carved into the marble panels of a wall that stretches 131 feet (40 meters) along the banks of the Avon River.
Things to Know Before You Go
Following Maori tradition, a large kohatu pounamu (greenstone)—gifted by Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio, a subtribe of the Ngāi Tahu people—is located near the entrance of the memorial. The ritual of touching it is meant to reconnect visitors with the land, and everyone is welcome to do so.
The people who were killed in the earthquake came from many different countries. Their names appear on the wall in their native language as well as English.
The names on the wall aren’t listed alphabetically; instead, they’re grouped according to who died alongside each other.
How to Get There
Beside the Avon River, just east of the Montreal Street Bridge, the memorial is easily reached on foot in central Christchurch. It’s west of the bus interchange, and there’s plenty of vehicle parking nearby.
When to Get There
Visit anytime, as the memorial is open 24 hours a day. A memorial service is held every year on February 22, the day of the 2011 earthquake.
Quake City at the Canterbury Museum
To learn more about the Christchurch/Canterbury earthquakes, and quakes in general, visit the Quake City exhibit at the Canterbury Museum. Understand the science behind the quakes, view objects connected with the disasters—such as the spire of ChristChurch Cathedral—and gain insight into the rebuilding process.