Archbishop of Canterbury visits Christchurch

6:58 pm on 4 November 2012

The Archbishop of Canterbury has visited the site of ChristChurch Cathedral on its 131st anniversary on Sunday.

Dr Rowan Williams, the leader of the world's Anglicans, is in New Zealand on his last major international duty before he retires in December.

The Archbishop attended a service at Christ's College on Sunday morning marking the anniversary of the cathedral's dedication.

Accompanied by Anglican Bishop Victoria Matthews and Christchurch mayor Bob Parker, he then went on a bus tour of the central business district, including a stop at the cathedral.

Dr Williams was briefed on the damage to the cathedral and the historic items that remain inside, including the church's organ and Sir Edmund Hillary's flag.

Dr Williams says it was a challenge to see the damage in Christchurch first-hand.

"Driving around I thought the only thing I've seen like this really is when I was in Beirut a few years ago - but the scale has yes, I've seen the pictures, the scale of it has stunned me a bit".

He was also visiting the city's badly damaged eastern suburbs.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has chaired the Anglican Consultative Council meeting during his New Zealand visit.