The Garden City Christchurch is not only home to more than 740 parks, but also can be considered as New Zealand’s first founded city. It features some stunning ocean to Alps hinterland and offers a big diversity of heritage conservation and regeneration, while not forgetting the city’s history. Christchurch is a beautiful and tranquil place. At the moment the city takes its time to recover after the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, so you will notice a lot of (re-)construction within the city center. But this also means the city is adjusting to change and it is a good opportunity to feel the spirit and energy of this vibrant city as the rebuild progresses.
How to get there?
Christchurch is located on the northern part of the South Island. You can either directly fly to Christchurch International Airport. Or reach the city by car, bus or train.
During our visit in Christchurch we especially enjoyed the Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park. This area is a nice place to spend a sunny day outside and explore some of the diverse nature and floral wonders the city has to offer. The Botanic Gardens have an impressive collection of trees, flowers and other flora from all around the world and you can easily lose yourself in the peaceful atmosphere.
How long to stay?
Christchurch was our first stop in New Zealand and we decided to stay for 2 nights. In our opinion this gives you enough time to explore the city and what it has to offer. In case you arrive late you might want to add a third night, as you might be stuck in the airport and customs for a while, which will make you lose up to a whole day in the city.
Where to stay?
We booked a nice room via Airbnb and can highly recommend to stay with Bella and Jacob, who gave us such a great and warm welcome to New Zealand. The room is super comfortable and nicely furnished and their little bungalow offers you everything you need. You can feel like home and it also was a pleasure to meet their big (but very calm and friendly) dog Apollo. You have some shopping opportunities close by and can reach the city center by bus or foot (approx. 60 min).
Quake City This fantastic exhibition will teach you everything about the experiences Christchurch made during earthquakes. You will get insight in a lot of different perspectives, can see an active liquefaction volcano, learn about the science of earthquakes and also see images or hear stories of the people of Christchurch from the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 and their aftermath. Punting on the Avon A great way to take in the picturesque Avon River is to take a punt. As you gently wind your way along the river and through the Botanic Gardens, you can take a time out and relax while admiring the beautiful nature. If you want to enhance the experience, make sure to pack a picnic for the ride. The departure point is by the Worcester Street bridge or from the Antigua Boat Sheds. You can also hire single canoes, double canoes, paddle boats and row boats. Cardboard Cathedral The original Christchurch Cathedral was badly damaged in the February 2011 earthquake and this is why a temporary home, the Transitional Cathedral, has been set up. It is the world’s only cathedral made substantially of cardboard. You can also take a look at the broken cathedral on Cathedral Square. Historic Tram The beautifully restored vintage trams are the perfect means of transport to enjoy and witness the changing face of Christchurch’s city center. You will also learn about landmarks and local sights as you go. The tram departs from Cathedral Junction, taking in 17 stops including the Avon River, re:START Mall, the Arts Center, the Canterbury Museum, New Regent St and Catehdral Square. New Brighton This beach is just a 20-minute drive from Christchurch and is popular by surfers but also a good swimming beach. On top you can do some shopping here as well and you will find some generous dining options. If you are a beach lover make sure to visit the sheltered cove of Taylor’s Mistake as well. This beach draws anglers too and has nearby walking tracks. The Christchurch Rebuild Tour Christchurch is constantly evolving and with this tour you will be able to see the progress and hear about the plans for the future. Tours run 7 days a week and depart from Rolleston Avenue, outside the Canterbury Museum. Bookings are essential and tickets can be purchased online or from the i-SITE Visitor Center on Rolleston Avenue. Christchurch Gondola You can reach the Gondola within 15 minutes from the city center (by car). While taking a ride you can enjoy a spectacular 360 degree view across the Canterbury Plains, Southern Alps, Christchurch city and Lyttelton Harbor. Willowbank Wildlife Reserve Located just 15 minutes from the central city you will find the only Wildlife Park in the world where you can meet New Zealand’s Big 5: The National symbol the Kiwi, the cheeky Kea, ancient Tuatara, the bush parrot Kaka and the very rare Takahe. Willowbank is also the location of Ko Tane, the South Island’s only Maori Cultural show.