Kiwi actor Russell Crowe spent yesterday touring Christchurch and said it was traumatic to see the devastation with his own eyes.

Crowe's father and uncles were born in the city.

"I've always had an affinity with Christchurch; I love Christchurch ... It was just important for me to come down and represent [my father] really," he told Close Up.

The 46-year-old Oscar winner flew to New Zealand for the Fill the Basin for Christchurch charity cricket match in Wellington on Sunday and went to Christchurch yesterday morning.

Crowe, who travels on his Kiwi passport, spent yesterday walking around the devastated CBD, talking to rescuers and visiting sites he came to know when he stayed in the city in 1986 on a theatre tour.

"It's quite a traumatic experience to look at it and I can't even imagine the level of trauma that people who have lived through it and experienced loss [are feeling]."

Asked what he thought should become of the devastated city, Crowe said a balance needed to be found between the old and the new.

"The thing about Christchurch, historically, is its beauty and I think there's got to be a balance between what can really be achieved and also the things that we hold close to our heart and what makes them proud to be from Christchurch."

He said New Zealanders needed to stick together to help one another through the crisis.

"The stress levels are probably going to build, and that's understandable. Not knowing exactly what's going to happen in the immediate future is a hard way to live. But remember, the greatest strength ... is to keep in touch and keep that humanity vibrant."

Crowe was surprised to learn how many New Zealanders now follow his South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby league team and wished everyone luck on behalf of the players.