Christchurch Destination Guide
A little slice of England on the southern edge of Pegasus Bay, charming Christchurch is the largest city on New Zealand’s South Island and undoubtedly one of its most picturesque. At the edge of the fertile Canterbury Plains, Christchurch is the gateway for exploration of the South Island as a whole, including the Southern Alps – where you can ski, hike or visit the country's tallest peak.
Staking claim as New Zealand's oldest city, Christchurch's extensive parks and green spaces have also prompted its nickname as 'the Garden City'. The lush green hues of Christchurch’s sumptuous city centre are best viewed on a punt-ride down the Avon. If you prefer to make your excursions on dry land, you can bicycle around this relatively flat city, taking in such sights as the Botanic Gardens and Riccarton Bush.
Get around town on...
- A punt from Antigua Boatsheds
- A bicycle down Summit Road
- A tram across Cathedral Square
Fancy a taste of the South Pole without actually having to go? One of the popular things to do in Christchurch is visit the International Antarctic Centre, where you can have your own interactive experience of the frozen south, including a close-encounter of the penguin kind. To soak up the city's English heritage atmosphere, punting in Christchurch's Botanic Gardens is also a popular pastime, while the Christchurch Gondola offers views you won't soon forget!
If you've the kids in tow (or even if you haven't) the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve gives you the chance to see and learn about New Zealand's favourite bird - the kiwi! Following the 2010-11 earthquakes, Christchurch has become a city re-imagined. Visit the Re:START precinct where 40 retailers take residence in shipping containers, and the Cardboard Cathedral – an impressive transitional house of worship.
Learn about Christchurch life in...
- The Canterbury Museum
- Ferrymead Heritage Park
- The Cardboard Cathedral
Christchurch restaurants, bars and eateries – from fancy to informal – all have a sense of intimacy about them. There's far more to this city than burgers and beers, though the popular Burgers & Beers in Sydenham has a groovy, unpretentious feel and provides exactly what it promises.
There are plenty of cafes in the city centre if you're in need of a caffeine fix, as well as a number of groovy bars with equally groovy names: Tequila Mockingbird, Harlequin Public House and Fiddlesticks included. To the west of the city, Riccarton Road is something of an 'eat street', lined with cafes, restaurants and bars of every ilk.
Enjoy English-style ales at...
- Pomeroy’s Old Brewery Inn
- The Twisted Hop
- Darkroom Bar
In the hills to the south of Christchurch is the refined Otahuna Lodge – 'Otahuna' being Maori for 'little hill among the hills'. This is a truly luxurious getaway. For central 5-star luxury, The George is an example of Christchurch accommodation at its finest.
There are also bed and breakfasts, cottages, hotels, motels, retreats and holiday parks across the city and at its fringes. The surrounding hills and plains in particular lend themselves to secluded and romantic getaways. Whenever you grab a flight to Christchurch, there'll be a cosy room awaiting you to suit your tastes and budget, with more than 250 accommodation providers around town. Why not consider a farmstay for something a little different?
Who'd have thought there could be so many uses for sea freight containers? From shipping to shopping, Christchurch's Re:START Mall is a collection of shops giving clunky old shipping containers a new lease on life. The first retail activity to recommence in the CBD after the 2011 earthquakes, this funky, colourful collection of 27 shops, boutiques and eateries does the spirit of Christchurch proud.
Given Christchurch's status as a gateway to Antarctica, this is also a good city for adventure clothing. Home of the Merino, you can find fine woollen clothing and even Merino-possum fur blends!
Christchurch like a Local
Christchurch is home to a strong and resilient community. The inner suburb of Addington is a new live entertainment hub – the Court Theatre has relocated here and Dux Live is a new music venue. Addington is also the place to sample a mouth-watering selection of North African food at Simo's Deli.
The neighbouring suburb of Sydenham also housed 'refugee businesses' from the CBD during the city's reconstruction, and the area south of Moorhouse Ave is now affectionately dubbed 'SoMo'. Further afield, get out of town and soak into the thermal waters of Hanmer Springs, just 90-minutes drive from Christchurch.
Take a trip to...
- Lyttleton, just over the hill
- Banks Peninsula, on the city outskirts
- Akaroa, first settled by the French