Though the city has been inconvenienced by the earthquakes, that doesn't mean that Christchurch isn't a place to go to. In fact, it may be the best option to go to within New Zealand. Situated on the eastern coast in the middle of the south island, you're within driving distance to so many magical places. Arthur's Pass, Mt. Cook, Dunedin, Lake Tekapo, and many other places are all within a reasonable distance from the University of Canterbury. Places like Auckland or Otago are a bit removed from other places and take longer to get anywhere. Besides, the south island is 100x more scenic than the northern island!
Regarding the IES program, I would say it's an amazing thing to do if it's an option for you. The program leader here in Christchurch is wonderful - extremely helpful and caring for you. She is always looking out for you and will help in any way she can - she even helped pick classes for a few stressed IES-ers! I'm pretty confident in saying that she's more than welcome at my family's holiday dinner (that's how great she is!). Having our coordinator with my group was invaluable. Scheduled trips and going out to eat at different places is extremely helpful (especially when you first arrive). Though it might not seem like a big deal, a good or bad coordinator for an overseas program can have an impact on how you see the country & how you spend your time abroad.
Why go to a program? Why not just study abroad on your own? For starters, when you immediately arrive with your IES group, you have an immediate group of friends that you can rely on. They're going through the same experiences you are and they can help you (and you'll help them) during your time abroad. That isn't to say that they're the only friends you meet though! You'll meet people outside of IES and make friends with tons of Kiwis. However, should something happen, or you need a place to go for a weekend, or you want a traveling buddy, IES has you covered. I have all of my group's contact information (which is incredibly handy) so getting in touch with someone when you needed it wasn't an issue.
Overall, I've had a blast. Christchurch is awesome. New Zealand is awesome. Being able to be a part of the IES family and meet so many people is awesome. Kiwis are awesome people. If you want to have an awesome experience too, definitely look into coming to Christchurch with IES Abroad!