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Christchurch

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Christchurch (Māori: Ōtautahi) is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and the third most-populous urban area in the country. As well as having the most attractions of any place in the South Island, it's the major international entry point for visiting the rest of the island. It is on the east coast of the South Island, and is the centre of the Canterbury region.

Christchurch is rebuilding after an earthquake in February 2011 that severely damaged it. The city is back in business and open to visitors – you will just encounter construction sites, roadworks and vacant land as you travel around.

Understand[edit]

Christchurch has a rich English heritage. This especially show shows in the older buildings, especially in the cultural precinct along Worcester Boulevard (which is open from the Avon River towards the west), where most heritage buildings remain. The Avon River flows through the central city and disrupts the regular rectangular layout of the city streets.

Christchurch is known as the Garden City, a well-deserved name. Looking from a few floors up, one is struck by the number of trees that grow like a forest throughout the suburbs.

History[edit]

The quake-damaged ChristChurch Cathedral in 2015
ChristChurch Cathedral in 2008

The Canterbury Association was established in London in 1848, with the intent of settling English emigrants in what was to become Christchurch and the Canterbury region. The city's name was chosen on 27 March 1848, named after the Christ Church college at the University of Oxford. The first settlers arrived in the future Christchurch in December 1850. Christchurch was declared a city in 1856, New Zealand's first. Construction began on the landmark ChristChurch Cathedral in 1864; the cathedral was completed and consecrated in 1881.

At 04:35 on Saturday, 4 September 2010, the city and region was hit by a magnitude 7.1 earthquake, located 10 km deep and 40 km west of the city centre. Parts of the city were damaged, but there were no fatalities. However, five-and-a-half months later, at 12:51 on Tuesday, 22 February 2011, a magnitude 6.3 aftershock struck 10 km south of the city centre at 5 km deep. Already damaged buildings collapsed, killing 185 people, 115 of which resulted from the six storey Canterbury Television building collapsing and catching fire. Many other central city buildings, old and new, were damaged beyond repair and were subsequently demolished. The landmark ChristChurch Cathedral lost its spire tower and most of its western facade. Liquefaction severely affected the eastern suburbs, resulting in 10,000 homes having to be abandoned due to land damage (the "residential red zone"). Some residents moved out of the city after the quake – many moved out to the Waimakariri and Selwyn Districts north and south of the city respectively, and some moved to other areas in Canterbury and further afield.

A very hip scene has developed in some of the suburbs close to the centre, and many 'gapfiller' projects (as part of the earthquake recovery) are stunning. In 2013, Lonely Planet declared post-earthquake Christchurch as one of the top 10 travel destinations in the world.

1 i-Site Visitor Centre, 28 Worcester Boulevard (The Arts Centre), +64 3 379-9629, toll-free: 0800 423 783, e-mail: . Daily 08:30-17:00. Free booking service for accommodation, activities and transport.

For online information, see the official Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism site.

Climate[edit]

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 22 22 20 17 14 11 11 12 15 17 19 21
Nightly lows (°C) 12 12 10 7 4 1 1 2 4 6 8 11
Precipitation (mm) 44 44 53 53 63 58 62 58 42 48 48 50

Source: NIWA

Like the rest of New Zealand, Christchurch has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons, mild to warm summers, cool winters, and rainfall evenly distributed throughout the year. The city is the driest of New Zealand's major cities with only 630 mm of rain per year, half of what Auckland and Wellington receive. This is due to the city being in the lee of the Southern Alps, which blocks the moist westerly winds off the Tasman Sea and causes the moisture to fall back as rain on the West Coast. The Southern Alps also causes a hot and strong foehn wind, locally known as the "Nor'wester", to blow across Christchurch and the Canterbury plains. The Nor'wester is most pronounced in summer and can cause temperatures in Christchurch to soar over 35°C. Christchurch occasionally receives snow during winter; on average one significant snowfall occurs in the city every 1 to 3 years.

Get in[edit]

Caution NOTE: The Kaikoura earthquake of 14 November 2016 has affected road and rail routes north of Christchurch. State Highway 1 between the Clarence River and Hapuku River north of Kaikoura is closed due to slips and bridge damage and is not expected to reopen before December 2017. The recommended diversion route from Picton/Blenheim is via Murchison and Lewis Pass (State Highways 63, 6, 65 and 7), and will take at least an extra 2½ hours. Road access from Kaikoura is open, but the SH 1 route is subject to night-time closures, and both SH 1 and the alternative route via SH 7 and Inland Kaikoura Road are subject to speed restrictions and stop/go control. The rail line is presently open to freight trains only; the Coastal Pacific passenger train remains cancelled until mid-2018. See the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) website for the most up-to-date information.

By plane[edit]

Flights to and from McMurdo Station in Antarctica use the airport. It is one of the few international airports in the world where military and civilian aircraft regularly share the same runways.
There are two regular public bus services from the airport to the city centre. The number 29 bus travels via Fendalton, while the Purple Line bus travels via the University of Canterbury and Riccarton. The 30 min trip costs $8.50 (or $2.55 with a Metrocard) and between the two routes buses operate every 15-30 minutes during the day, 7 days a week. The fare can be reduced to $4 by catching the bus a seven-minute walk from the airport at the stop on Memorial Ave in front of the Sudima Hotel sign. A door-to-door shuttle service to all parts of Christchurch is available; the price to the city centre is $24 for the first person and $5 for each additional person travelling to the same destination. Taxi stands (about $45-65 to the city centre) and rental car parks are close to the terminal building.
If you have a few hours to spare and no heavy luggage, you can walk to the airport. There is a footpath alongside Fendalton Road/Memorial Avenue all the way to the airport and the 8 km walk through residential neighbourhoods is quite pleasant.

By car[edit]

Christchurch lies at the intersection of State Highways 1 and 73. State Highways 1, 74 and 76 form a ring road through the outer suburbs of the city.

From the Upper South Island, follow State Highway 1 southbound through Waipara, Amberley, Woodend and Kaiapoi to approach Christchurch from the north. A section of State Highway 1 north of Kaikoura is presently closed due to earthquake damage, so traffic from Picton, Blenheim and Nelson will have to follow the recommended diversion route via Murchison and Lewis Pass (State Highways 63, 6, 65 and 7) to meet State Highway 1 at Waipara. State Highway 1 north of Kaikoura is expected to reopen during daylight hours from 15 December 2017, but in places the road is temporary and subject to speed restrictions and stop/go control. You will need to allow at least 5.5 hours between Blenheim and Christchurch via Kaikoura, and 6.5 hours via Murchison/Lewis Pass.

From the West Coast, follow State Highway 73 over Arthur's Pass and via Darfield and West Melton to approach Christchurch from the west. Alternatively, you can follow State Highway 7 over the Lewis Pass, meeting State Highway 1 at Waipara and approaching Christchurch from the north.

From the Lower South Island, follow State Highway 1 northbound through Ashburton and Rolleston to approach Christchurch from the south-west.

From 15 December 2017, typical distances and non-stop travel times to Christchurch will be:

  • Picton – 340 km, 6hr (via Kaikoura); 480 km, 7hr (via Lewis Pass)
  • Blenheim – 310 km, 5hr 30min (via Kaikoura); 450 km, 6hr 30 min (via Lewis Pass)
  • Nelson – 420 km, 6hr (via Lewis Pass)
  • Greymouth – 240 km, 3hr 15min
  • Timaru – 170 km, 2hr 15min
  • Dunedin – 360 km, 4hr 30 min
  • Queenstown – 480 km, 6hr
  • Invercargill – 570 km, 7hr

By bus[edit]

National operators InterCity and Newmans Coach Lines provide multiple daily connections to destinations throughout the South Island. There are daily bus services to and from Picton to the north, Dunedin, Queenstown and Mt Cook to the south, and the West Coast (Greymouth, Hokitika). The bus stop is outside the Bus Exchange on Lichfield Street, and there is an Intercity office inside the Exchange. Newmans Coach Lines buses (to Tekapo/Queenstown) depart from outside Canterbury Museum in Rolleston Ave, nearest the Worcester Boulevard intersection.

Smaller shuttle operators also operate from Christchurch.

By train[edit]

See also: Rail travel in New Zealand
Coastal Pacific train at Christchurch station
  • 2 Christchurch railway station, Troup Drive, Addington (adjacent to Tower Junction shopping centre). Canterbury Shuttles provides a free transfer from all central city accommodation to the station; pickups for the TranzAlpine are 07:00-07:45. Shuttles from the station are chargeable, or you can walk into town along the edge of Hagley Park in about 45 minutes. The station has limited facilities. Christchurch Railway Station (New Zealand) on Wikipedia Christchurch Railway Station (Q5109090) on Wikidata
The TranzAlpine can take you coast-to-coast between Christchurch and Greymouth, a town on the West Coast. This scenic train journey can be done as a day trip. The train departs from Christchurch daily at 08:15, arriving at Greymouth at 12:45, then leaves Greymouth at 13:45, getting back to Christchurch at 18:05. During the trip you’ll see the fields of the Canterbury Plains, followed by spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. The train then climbs into the Southern Alps before descending through lush beech rain forest to Greymouth.
The Coastal Pacific usually runs between Picton and Christchurch from October through April, but is suspended until the second half of 2018, when the season may start earlier than October. At Picton it connects with the Cook Strait ferries from Wellington in the North Island. The train departs Christchurch at 07:00 and arrives in Picton at 12:13, connecting with the 14:00 ferry to Wellington. The 09:00 ferry from Wellington connects with the train departing Picton at 13:00 and arriving in Christchurch at 18:21. Canterbury Shuttles pick-ups for the Coastal Pacific are 06:00-06:30.

Get around[edit]

Map of Christchurch

Christchurch is mostly flat with a grid-pattern layout, so navigation by road is generally simple. The central city is contained by the "four avenues" – Bealey Ave in the north, Fitzgerald Ave in the east, Deans Ave in the west, and Moorhouse Ave in the south. Watch out for one-way streets and bus-and-taxi-only intersections in the central city.

Many people get around on bicycles, and special-purpose bicycle lanes have been added to many streets to help promote cycling.

Parking in the city uses a pay and display system and costs $2.60/hour. You can pay with coins, credit card (Visa, MasterCard or AmEx) or with a mobile phone text message (the latter two attract a 50c surcharge) then display the ticket with the expiry time visible on the kerbside dash. Rental cars are available. Most depots are on the airport side of town, with just a few near the CBD.

The city has a small tram loop, best regarded as an attraction rather than a transport system due to its small size, high price and limited hours.

By bus[edit]

A public bike repair station

The city bus service is called Metro. Buses interconnect through the 3 Bus Interchange on Lichfield St, just east of Colombo St. A standard cash bus fare within the city is $4 or $2.55 with a Metrocard. The Metrocard costs $10 and needs to be topped up with a minimum of $10, its initial purchase will then cost you $20. By using the card you will travel for free the same day after paying two trips. Services cover the whole city and areas of interest for a visitor that lie outside the central city, such as Sumner and New Brighton beaches, Lyttelton, and the Gondola.

The core bus network has four cross-city routes and a circular route through the inner suburbs. Buses on these routes run every 15 minutes during the day, seven days a week. The four cross-city routes converge at the Bus Interchange.

  • Blue Line (B) - runs north-south between Belfast and Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH). Every other service continues north of Belfast to Kaiapoi and Rangiora, and every other service continues south of PMH to Cashmere. Connects with Orbiter at Northlands (north) and PMH (south).
  • Purple Line (P) - runs northwest-southeast between the Airport or Sheffield Crescent (alternating services) and Sumner. Connects with Orbiter at University of Canterbury and Westfield Riccarton.
  • Yellow Line (Y) - runs west-east between Hornby and New Brighton. Every other service continues west of Hornby to Rolleston. Connects with the Orbiter at Westfield Riccarton (west) and Eastgate Mall (east).
  • Orange Line (O) - runs south-west-northeast between Halswell and Queenspark. Connects with Orbiter at The Palms Mall.
  • The Orbiter (Or, green) - runs a circular route through the inner suburbs, starting and ending at Eastgate.

In some areas buses may be infrequent, particularly at the weekend, when there may only be one or two buses per hour.

  • Metro Info, Bus Interchange, cnr Lichfield St and Colombo St, +64 3 366 8855. M-F 07:30–18:00, Sa Su 09:00–17:00.

See[edit]

  • 1 Air Force Museum, 45 Harvard Ave, Wigram (take Yellow or #80 bus from Central Station platform C), +64 3 343 9542. Daily 10:00-17:00. Opened in 1987 before the closure of the Christchurch RNZAF base, this museum has full-size replicas of fighting planes and dramatizes the history of New Zealand's Air Force from World War I to Vietnam and beyond. Free.
Interior of the Great Hall of the Arts Centre
  • 2 Arts Centre, Worcester Blvd, Central City. Gothic Revival stonework of former University campus. This area was damaged during the 22 Feb 2011 earthquake. While reconstruction work is taking place many of these buildings are closed to the general public. However, the beauty and historical significance of these building can still be appreciated by viewing them from surrounding streets such as Worcester Blvd and Hereford St, and the excellent Canterbury Cheesemongers still operates from a modern building within its precincts. As of December 2016, the I-Site and the Great Hall (and the courtyard outside) are open. Rutherford's Den, an exhibition on physics, is open ($20 admission). Christchurch Arts Centre on Wikipedia Christchurch Arts Centre (Q863801) on Wikidata
The Peacock Fountain at the Botanic Gardens
  • 3 Botanic Gardens, Rolleston Ave, Central City (car park entrance opposite Armagh St), +64 3 941 7590. Gates open 07:00 until one hour before sunset, conservatories 10:15-16:00. Information centre open 10:15-16:00 daily summer, 11:00-15:00 winter. 30 hectares of exotic and indigenous plants and trees wrapped in a loop of the picturesque Avon River and linking to the 160-hectare Hagley Park. These put the "Garden" in the "Garden City", and the combined total with Hagley Park makes them the second largest inner city park in the world (after New York's Central Park). A new visitor centre and cafe opened in 2014. Free. Christchurch Botanic Gardens on Wikipedia Christchurch Botanic Gardens (Q1186086) on Wikidata
  • 4 Bridge of Remembrance, Cashel St. A memorial to those lost in Word War 1 and subsequent conflicts. A memorial arch was added to an existing bridge over the River Avon in 1923-24. The arch was damaged in the 2011 quake and reopened after repairs on Anzac Day 2016. The bridge is open all the time to walk across, but has been closed to vehicles since 1976. Bridge of Remembrance on Wikipedia
  • 5 Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial. Dedicated to those who died or were injured in the 22 February 2011 earthquake. It is beside the Avon River, immediately downstream from Montreal St and upstream from Rhododendron Island in the Avon. Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial on Wikipedia
  • 6 Canterbury Museum, Rolleston Ave at end of Worcester Blvd (adjoining Botanic Gardens), +64 3 366-5000. 09:00-17:30 daily summer, 09:00-17:00 winter. Includes colonial, Māori and natural history sections, Antarctic exploration display, and visiting exhibitions. Admission free to main exhibits (but donation appreciated), $2 for Discovery children's section. Canterbury Museum, Christchurch on Wikipedia Canterbury Museum, Christchurch (Q1033769) on Wikidata
  • 7 Cardboard Cathedral (ChristChurch Transitional Cathedral), 234 Hereford St, Central City, +64 3 366 0046. Designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, well known for his use of cardboard elements in buildings, the cathedral was completed in August 2013 to serve as the Anglican cathedral while the ChristChurch Catherdral is rebuilt (whenever that will be). Cardboard Cathedral on Wikipedia Cardboard Cathedral (Q15207543) on Wikidata
Christchurch Art Gallery
  • 8 Christchurch Art Gallery, Worcester Blvd and Montreal St (one block east of Botanic Gardens), +64 3 941-7300. Th-Tu 10:00-17:00, W 10:00-21:00. Spectacular new $47 million facility opened in 2003, the largest in the South Island, with over 5000 items and visiting exhibitions. The gallery reopened in Dec 2015, after 5 years of being a Civil Defence Centre and then repairs. You can store your suitcase at the reception, so it is a nice place to go in the morning if you are leaving in the afternoon. Usually free.
185 Empty Chairs
  • Earthquake tourism. Tours of affected sites are available. Visitors can also make their own way to sites of particular significance such as:
    • 9 185 Empty Chairs, Madras/Cashel Sts. An art work that is a memorial to the 185 people who died in the 22 February 2011 earthquake. The chairs are on the site of the demolished St Paul's Church, across the road from the site of the most casualties, the Canterbury Television building, where 115 people died. There are actually 186 chairs, the extra one being for people who died in Christchurch on the day, but were not directly killed by the quake. 185 empty chairs on Wikipedia
    • 10 Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament (Christchurch Basilica), South Barbadoes St (just north of Moorhouse Ave). The Roman Catholic cathedral, which partly collapsed in the quake. It may eventually be partially rebuilt. View it from the outside. Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Christchurch on Wikipedia
    • 11 ChristChurch Cathedral, Cathedral Square, Central City. The Gothic revival cathedral was consecrated in 1881 as the seat of the Christchurch Anglican diocese. Damaged in the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes, the cathedral has sat untouched since the earthquakes due to constant debate and threats of legal action over what should be done with it. ChristChurch Cathedral, Christchurch on Wikipedia ChristChurch Cathedral, Christchurch (Q1077977) on Wikidata
    • 12 Quake City, 299 Durham St North. Daily 10:00-17:00. Coordinated by Canterbury Museum, it has exhibits about earthquakes in Christchurch, particularly the quakes of 2010–11. Adult $20.
  • 13 Ferrymead Heritage Park, Ferrymead Park Dr (off Bridal Path Rd; take Purple bus east to Ferrymead, then 20min walk or change to #535 bus), +64 3 384 1970. 10:00-16:30 daily. A recreated Edwardian township and museum with horse and carriage (daily), tram (weekends and school/public holidays) and train (first and third Sunday) rides. Not all attractions run at all times, due to the voluntary nature of the historical societies managing the park. Special events are often held and the park has been used to film the TV One reality show 'Colonial House'. Admission price is based on whether trams/trains are operating or not, and include unlimited rides if available. Train & tram days, adult $30, student $25, child $15; tram, no train, days, adult $20, student $15, child $10. Ferrymead Heritage Park on Wikipedia Ferrymead Heritage Park (Q5445548) on Wikidata
Bridge of Remembrance and Avon River
  • 14 International Antarctic Centre, 38 Orchard Rd, Christchurch Airport (Take Purple or #29 bus from Central Station platform C), +64 3 357-0519, toll-free: 0508 736 4846. 1 Oct–30 Apr daily 09:00-19:00; 1 May–30 Sep daily 09:00-17:30. A world-class Antarctic experience with simulated polar weather, Hagglund All-Terrain Vehicle ride, penguins, extensive exhibits about Antarctic science missions, café and gift shop. $55, $36 child. Unlimited Hagglund all day rides $20, Penguin Backstage Pass $20, $15 child. International Antarctic Centre on Wikipedia International Antarctic Centre (Q6048193) on Wikidata
  • 15 Orana Wildlife Park, McLeans Island Rd (10 min drive W of airport), +64 3 359-7109. Daily 10:00-17:00, last entrance 16:30. New Zealand's largest wildlife sanctuary and conservation project featuring endangered animals from around the world. The park's design minimises fences and cages in favour of natural boundaries and habitats. Lion Encounter (limited 20 tickets per day, participants must be above 1.4 metres in height). Adult $34.50, child $9.50. Orana Wildlife Park on Wikipedia Orana Wildlife Park (Q15264222) on Wikidata
  • 16 Riccarton Bush (Dean's Bush). The last remaining forest remnant on the Canterbury plains is in Christchurch city. If your time is limited in NZ, this is a great way to experience an example of the country's native forests. The circular track passes under tall kahikatea trees, and there is a diversity of small trees, shrubs, climbers and ferns. Christchurch's oldest house, Dean's Cottage (built 1843), is adjacent. Five minutes drive from central city and easily accessible by bus. Riccarton, New Zealand on Wikipedia
St Michael and All Angels Church
  • 17 St Michael and All Angels Church, 86-90 Oxford Terrace. Services Su 08:00, 10:00, 19:00, M-F 09:00, and for viewing at other times. This wooden Anglican church dating from 1872 suffered only minor quake damage (it was closed for three months). It has an unusual separate bell tower. Church of St Michael and All Angels, Christchurch on Wikipedia Church of St Michael and All Angels, Christchurch (Q5117629) on Wikidata
  • 18 Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, 60 Hussey Rd (off Gardiners Rd), +64 3 359 6226. Daily 10:00-22:00, kiwi viewing from 11:00. A smaller park than Orana, with a focus on New Zealand species including kiwi in a natural environment. $16, $8 child. Willowbank Wildlife Reserve on Wikipedia Willowbank Wildlife Reserve (Q8022394) on Wikidata
  • 19 Yaldhurst Museum, Main West Rd (near the airport, first right past Yaldhurst Hotel), +64 3 342-7914. 10:00-17:00 daily (17:00-21:00 by arrangement for groups of 10 or more). Mostly interesting for its collection of over 150 classic and vintage vehicles. $20, $5 child. Yaldhurst Museum on Wikipedia Yaldhurst Museum (Q8047320) on Wikidata

Do[edit]

  • 1 Antigua Boatsheds, 2 Cambridge Tce, Central City, +64 3 366-5885. Daily; summer 09:30-17:30, winter 09:30-17:00. Boat hire from historic British boatsheds for a hands-on water experience. $12/hr canoe, $25/half-hr rowboat, $25/half-hr paddle boat. Antigua Boat Sheds on Wikipedia Antigua Boat Sheds (Q575687) on Wikidata
  • 2 Christchurch Adventure Park, 225 Worsleys Rd, Cracroft. Currently closed due to Feb 2017 wildfire. Very good mountain biking trails for advanced, intermediate and beginner bikers, and also zip-lines. Take the chairlift up then bike down. There are bike and gear rentals, lessons and skills clinics, and a cafe and bar. There are charges for the chairlift, rather than the biking as such – you can take the uphill trail for free. Opened in December 2016.
  • 3 Christchurch Casino, 30 Victoria St, Central City, +64 3 365-9999. Daily except Good Friday, 25 Apr, 25 Dec. Dress code (jeans now allowed). You get a free meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner) if it is your birthday (booking essential). Christchurch Casino on Wikipedia Christchurch Casino (Q5109059) on Wikidata
  • 4 Christchurch Gondola, 10 Bridle Path Rd, Heathcote Valley (take #28 bus southeast, or take Purple bus and change to #535 bus at Ferrymead), +64 3 384-0310. Daily except 25 Dec 10:00-17:00. Ride in an enclosed gondola car up to the summit of the Port Hills then view the Heritage Time Tunnel exhibit, take an outdoor nature walk, visit the cafe and shop. The trip takes 10min but it is recommended to allow an hour all up. A shuttle bus runs daily from outside the Canterbury Museum on Rolleston Ave. Adult $25, child (5-15 years) $12, passenger & own mountain bike $30, or with mountain bike hire $70. Discount of 10% when booking online 7 days in advance.
Punting on the Avon
  • 5 Garden City Helicopters, 515 Memorial Ave (next to Christchurch Airport), +64 3 358 4360, toll-free: 0800 359 424, e-mail: . Scenic flights from 20 min to 3 hours. From $199.
  • Punting on the Avon, 2 Cambridge Terrace, Christchurch Central, +64 3 366 0337, e-mail: . Punts depart from Antigua Boatsheds (see above). Glide down the river in Cambridge University style with a uniformed boatsman. $25.
  • 6 Summit Road. Drive it or bike it or take a bus then walk it. The road (and the Crater Rim Walkway) traverses the crest of the Port Hills, which separate Christchurch from Lyttelton Harbour. Breathtaking views over Christchurch, the Southern Alps, Pegasus Bay, Lyttelton Harbour and Banks Peninsula – often all from the same vantage point. Lots of sheep on the walkways, some of which traverse working farms. It is not possible to drive along all of Summit Rd because part is closed due to earthquake damage. The route passes through countryside that was badly burned by the Port Hill fires in Feb 2017.
  • 7 Tram ride. Sep-Mar 09:00-18:00, Apr-Aug 10:00-17:00. Runs every 8-10 mins on a loop in the central city that takes 25 min in total. Get on and off as you please with your day-long ticket. Adult $25, 15 years and under free (up to 3 children per adult).

Festivals[edit]

One of Christchurch's trams

Christchurch has the busiest program of annual festivals of any New Zealand city.

  • Summertimes. Runs from December through to late February and includes a number of major free events in Hagley Park, which attract audiences of up to 100,000. It consists of music, arts, culture and sporting events.
  • The World Buskers Festival. Runs for two weeks in January and usually features about 30 comedy, street, and circus acts from around the globe.
  • Kidsfest. July. During the midwinter school holiday. Programme is announced in early June.
  • Christchurch Arts Festival. The largest arts festival in the South Island and takes place every second year around Aug-Sep (last held 30 Aug — 17 Sep 2017).
  • Carnival Week. Centred on a number of events taking place in November - Guy Fawkes' night (a major public firework display at New Brighton Pier), the two New Zealand Cup (trotting and galloping) horse racing meetings, and the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral show, which is the largest in the country.
  • 8 Carols by Candlelight, Latimer Square. 24 Dec: 21:00-22:00. A long-standing tradition on Christmas Eve.

Buy[edit]

Cardboard Cathedral interior
  • 1 Ballantynes, cnr Colombo and Cashel Sts (adjacent to Container Mall), +64 3 379 7400. M–F 09:00–17:30, Sa 09:00–17:00, Su 10:00–17:00. This major upmarket department store has been through its fair share of disasters – as well as the earthquakes of the 2010s, in 1947 the store was gutted by the deadliest fire in New Zealand history, with 41 deaths. Ballantynes on Wikipedia Ballantynes (Q4851443) on Wikidata
  • 2 Christchurch Farmers' Market, 16 Kahu Rd, Riccarton. Sa 09:00–12:00. Meet the growers, farmers, brewers and other artisan producers. A lively affair in the grounds of Riccarton House.
  • 3 Container Mall (originally Re:START). A mall that replaces part of City Mall, which was badly damaged by the earthquake. The shops, boutiques cafes and bars are made out of nicely glossed-up shipping containers. Many local and internationally-renowned brands sell here. Re:START on Wikipedia
  • 4 New Regent Street. A beautiful street of terraced Spanish Mission-style speciality shops that opened in 1932 and have reopened since the quake. The tram runs along the street. New Regent Street on Wikipedia New Regent Street (Q23035615) on Wikidata
  • Suburban malls include:
    • 5 Northlands Shopping Centre, 55 Main North Rd, Papanui (Blue or Orbiter bus), +64 3 352-6535. M–W Sa 09:00–18:00; Th F 09:00–21:00; Su 10:00–18:00. 135 stores over 42,000 m2, including Countdown, Farmers, Hoyts cinemas, Pak'nSave and The Warehouse.
    • 6 The Palms, cnr Marshland & New Brighton Rds, Shirley (Orange or Orbiter bus), +64 3 385-3067. M–W Sa 09:00–18:00, Th F 09:00–21:00, Su 10:00–18:00. 110 stores over 34,000 m2, including Countdown, Farmers, Kmart and Reading Cinemas. The Palms Shopping Centre on Wikipedia The Palms Shopping Centre (Q7755971) on Wikidata
    • 7 Westfield Riccarton, 129 Riccarton Rd, Riccarton (Purple, Yellow or Orbiter bus), +64 3 983-4500. M–W Sa 09:00–18:00, Th F 09:00–21:00, Su 10:00–18:00. The South Island's oldest (1965) and largest (55,000 m2) mall. 200 stores, including Briscoes, Farmers, Hoyts cinemas, Kmart and Pak'nSave. Westfield Riccarton on Wikipedia Westfield Riccarton (Q7988735) on Wikidata
  • 8 Riccarton Rotary Market, Riccarton Racecourse, 146 Racecourse Rd, Sockburn. Su 09:00–14:00 (wet or fine). Selling all sorts of things from plants, fruit and vegetables to kiwi souvenirs and cheap Asian wares. Has performances, bouncy castles and food.

Eat[edit]

This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Under $15
Mid-range $15-$30
Splurge Over $30

Budget[edit]

  • Supermarkets. The yellow coloured Pak'n'Save is cheapest overall. The black/green coloured Countdown and beige coloured New World are more expensive, but have a wider range and they can have some seriously cheap specials.
    • 1 Pak'n'Save, 297 Moorhouse Ave. Daily 07:00 - 23:00.
    • 2 Countdown, Cnr Moorhouse Avenue & Madras Street. daily 07:00 - 23:00.
    • 3 New World, South City Mall, 555 Colombo Street. daily 07:30 - 21:00. In a small shopping centre which also has The Warehouse.
  • Fish'n'chips are the cheapest meal out.
  • Fruit and vegetable shops offer locally grown high quality fresh produce for prices often much cheaper than supermarkets.
    • 4 The Funky Pumpkin, 290 Colombo Street, Sydenham. Daily 09:00-18:00. Fresh fruit and vegetables with the odd bit of meat.
  • The Asian district is mainly in the Riccarton/Upper Riccarton area. Church Corner is often considered the unofficial 'Chinatown'. It has Chinese supermarkets, all kinds of Asian restaurants and more. There are many Korean restaurants there, and in the shopping precinct near Westfield Riccarton. KOSCO, a Korean supermarket, has several branches in Christchurch, including one in Riccarton.
  • 5 Perry's Cafe, 145 Madras St (opposite Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology). M-F 07:00-16:30. Surprisingly good cafeteria-style food with touches of cafe class, gets crowded around lunchtime. mains $7-12, coffee $4.
  • 6 Welcome, 2 Wharenui Rd, Riccarton (just off Riccarton Rd). Delicious Chinese vegetarian meals. Don't miss the hotplate and clay pot special dishes too! Mains around $20.

Mid-range[edit]

The damaged Catholic Cathedral
  • 7 Addington Coffee Co-Op, 297 Lincoln Rd, Addington, +64 3 943 1662. M–F 07:30–16:00, Sa Su 09:00–16:00. Sells Fair Trade coffee and clothing in a lively atmosphere. Also has a laundry. Brunch dishes $9–22.
  • 8 Dux Dine, 28 Riccarton Rd (formerly one half of the Dux de Lux at 41 Hereford St), +64 3 348 1436. Pescatarian restaurant with lovely garden seating, the pizzas are good value to share, and the salads are fantastic. Also serves their craft beers including alcoholic ginger beer. Mains $19 (pizza) – $35 (salmon).
  • 9 Holy Smoke, 650 Ferry Rd, Woolston (cnr Catherine St), +64 3 943-2222. Tu-Sa 09:00-15:00. Deli specialising in food that has been manuka-smoked in house. The smoked salmon alone is well worth the trip. (No longer has a restaurant.)
  • 10 Under the Red Verandah, 29 Tancred St, Linwood, +64 3 381-1109. Breakfast and lunch 07:30-15:00. Offers a range of food incorporating fair trade coffee, free range eggs and gluten free baked goods. Big breakfast $25, coffee $4.
  • 11 Velvet Burger, 111 Riccarton Rd, +64 03 343 5924. Daily 11:30 'til late. Gourmet burger joint which also offers local beers. Burgers $7.40–22.90.

Splurge[edit]

  • 12 @Tony's, 2 Waterman Place, Ferrymead Central, +64 3 348-5644. M-F 12:00–14:30, M-W 17:30–22:00, Th-Sa 17:30–01:00, Su 17:30–21:00. Good Japanese teppanyaki with special all-you-can-eat deals Sun-Thu ($42). Mains around $30, set menus $56.
  • Pascatore and 50 Bistro, The George hotel, 50 Park Terrace (see listing in sleep), +64 3 379-4560. Two restaurants in this upmarket hotel. Great views of Hagley Park from Pescatore. Pascatore: mains $44, degustation menu $129; 50 Bistro: mains $27–39.
  • 13 King of Snake, 145 Victoria Street, +64 03 365 7363. Offers Thai and Asian fusion food mains $26–42.
  • 14 Strawberry Fare, 19 Bealey Ave, Merivale (cnr Carlton Mill Rd), +64 3 365-4897. Carries an extensive menu of modern interpreted New Zealand dishes as well as many dessert dishes. Reservations are required. Mains $26–44.
  • 15 The Watershed Restaurant & Bar, 12/23 Humphrey's Drive, Ferrymead. Overlooking the waterfront in Ferrymead. Main $25–37.

Drink[edit]

  • 1 Aikmans, 154 Aikmans Rd, Merivale. An upscale bistro and bar in trendy Merivale. Mains $25–35.
  • 2 Bealey's Speight's Ale House, 263 Bealey Ave. Mains $21–34.
  • 3 The Craic Irish Bar, 84 Riccarton Rd.
  • 4 No. 4, 4 Mansfield Ave. Bar and restaurant. Relaxed during the day and busy (but not too busy) on weekend nights. Great wines, Monteiths beers and a solid menu. Pint of beer $10, mains $25–44.
  • 5 Speight's Ale House Tower Junction, Tower Junction Mega Centre, 55 Clarence St, Riccarton (near the railway station). A relaxed atmosphere bar, a great place for meals. Mains $23–38.
  • If you fancy a short drive or bus ride (approx. 15 minutes from city centre), go to The Wunderbar in Lyttelton. It has a small room for gigs and is popular with artists. The Monster Bar (downstairs, next door) is an excellent Yakitori restaurant and bar though smaller and with more of a focus on DJs.

Sleep[edit]

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under $100
Mid-range $100-$200
Splurge Over $200

Following the earthquakes, some major hotels were demolished. This reduction in supply and the increased demand due to construction work means that accommodation in Christchurch is a little more expensive than other cities in New Zealand.

Backpackers are safe, clean, cheap and cheerful. The cheapest option is a share/dorm room usually costing around $30 per night. Most offer single rooms, twin and double rooms and shared rooms. The standard of backpackers is very good in New Zealand.

Motels are a notch up. Low end around $79 per night. There are also many good quality B&Bs in Christchurch and surrounding district.

Budget[edit]

Rolleston House YHA
  • 1 Christchurch Top 10 Holiday Park & Motels, 39 Meadow Street, Papanui, +64 3 352-9176, toll-free: 0800 396 323. Check-out: 10:00. Deluxe motels, cabins and tent site facilities for overnight stays, group trips and longer vacations. 5 minutes walk to Northlands Shopping Centre, supermarkets, restaurants, bars, cinema and bus stop. 10 minutes drive to Christchurch Airport and 5 km to city centre. Non-powered tent site $39, powered tent site $48, rooms $75-188.
  • 2 Dorset House Backpackers, 1 Dorset St, Central City, +64 3 366-8268, toll-free: 0800 367 738, e-mail: . Check-in: From 14:00, check-out: 10:00. Charming hostel accommodation in an 1871 heritage home, top-rated. Open again after full renovation and re-decoration. Free Wi-Fi, car-parking, spacious rooms, no bunks, all beds fully made. Set among flower gardens and 50 m from Hagley Park. On the airport bus route. Multi-share and family rooms available. Secure online bookings available. Share rooms from $41, doubles, twins, single rooms from $89.
  • 3 Jailhouse Accommodation, 338 Lincoln Rd, Addington, +64 3 982-7777, toll-free: 0800 524 546, e-mail: . Check-out: 10:00. Newly renovated heritage backpacker accommodation with a colourful history - the former Addington Prison (closed to inmates in 1999). The Jailhouse has single, double, twin, dorm and family rooms. Wi-Fi and free parking. Secure online bookings available. Dorms from $32, rooms from $89.
  • 5 Rolleston House YHA, 5 Worcester Boulevard, +64 3 366 6564. Converted from a characterful house. One of two YHA hostels in the centre of Christchurch. $34 for a dorm bed, $90 for a twin room.
  • 6 YMCA, 12 Hereford St, +64 3 365 0502. Modern hostel/basic hotel next to the Botanic Gardens. Dorm beds $30, apartments $220.

Mid-range[edit]

Apartments[edit]

For travellers who want to stay a month or longer, there are a number of furnished flats for rent advertised in the papers. A local company called Urban Rooms has furnished rentals specifically for travellers, ranging from rooms in a shared house to self-contained flats with garages.

  • 15 Red Door Cottage, 115 Merivale Ln, Merivale, +64 27 422 0764. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. Self-catering for up to 5. Close to City Centre, public transport, restaurants, shopping. Sky TV, free Wi-Fi, rate includes continental breakfast first day. King & queen beds, warm and private, with off-street parking. Minimum stay 2 nights. $170 for 2, $20 each additional person.
  • 16 Valley View Cottage, 101 Hillsborough Tce, Saint Martins, +64 27 422 0764. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 10:30. Self-catering for maximum of 3. Private, relaxing and peaceful, on lower slopes of Hills with views to City. Sky TV, free Wi-Fi, rate includes continental breakfast provisions for first day. Queen bed, warm and cosy with off-street parking. From $145.

Splurge[edit]

  • 17 Eliza’s Manor Boutique Hotel, 82 Bealey Ave, Central, +64 3 366-8584, fax: +64 3 366-4946, e-mail: . Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 10:30. Luxury B&B with 8 ensuite rooms, smoke-free. $235-345 double including breakfast.
  • 18 The George, 50 Park Tce. Luxury boutique hotel by the river Avon and Hagley Park. Two restaurants, 50 Bistro and Pescatore. From $295.
  • 19 Novotel Christchurch, 52 Cathedral Square. Built in 2010 and reopened in 2013. Meeting and conference rooms, restaurant, bar, gym and 154 rooms. Qualmark rating of 4 Star Plus. From $219.
  • 20 Rendezvous Hotel, 166 Gloucester St. Built in 2010 and reopened in 2013. From $229, but discounts for advance booking or minimum stays.

Stay safe[edit]

Christchurch has a problem with smog during the winter, but only at night. Although conditions have improved over the years due to the intervention of the city council, take care venturing out on calm frosty evenings if you have a breathing-related medical condition.

While violent crime is relatively rare, some people do have a tendency towards aggression when drunk, as in most cities. Linwood is one of the lower socio-economic area of Christchurch, and is rougher than some other neighborhoods, but is still considered safe. As in any city, take care late at night, especially on Friday and Saturdays, as levels of intoxication can lead to unwanted attention or unprovoked violence. Avoid dark alleyways and confrontations and, if in doubt, make haste to a populated area and call the police (dial 111).

Aftershocks from the 2010-11 earthquakes have long since subsided. There is still a risk of another major earthquake rocking Christchurch, but the chances are comparable to any other New Zealand city.

The earthquakes have caused land to sink up to 1.2 m (4 ft) in some places, creating new basins which can flood during heavy rain. The worst-affected areas are the "Flockton Basin" in Saint Albans/Mairehau north of the city centre, and the suburb of Woolston in the city's south-east. Be wary in these areas if there are forecasts for heavy rain.

  • 2 Christchurch Central Police Station, 68 St Asaph St (cnr Antigua St), +64 3 363-7400.
  • 3 24 Hour Surgery, 401 Madras St (just south of Bealey Ave), +64 3 365 7777. 24 hours. Urgent accident and medical centre, with on-site facilities for fractures. Medical $85-190; Accident (ACC) $70-155.

Cope[edit]

Consulates[edit]

  • Austria Austria, 19 Joyce Crescent, Ilam, +64 21 440 164 (Mobile), fax: +64 3 513-5794, e-mail: . Honorary Consulate-General - the actual embassy is in Canberra, Australia. Can issue emergency travel documents. This consulate deals with Tasman, West Coast, Canterbury, Otago, Southland, Stewart Island and the Chathams and there are other honorary consuls in Auckland and Wellington.
  • Cyprus Cyprus, 50-58 Parkhouse Rd, Sockburn, +64 3 343-0587, fax: +64 3 343-348-6788, e-mail: . M-F 09:00-16:00. Mr Kypros Kotzikas, Honorary Consul.

Go next[edit]

Akaroa
Lewis Pass

As a major gateway to the South Island, Christchurch is often the starting or finishing point for touring the rest of the island.

Greater Christchurch[edit]

The Greater Christchurch area covers the Banks Peninsula southeast of Christchurch and the lowland areas of the Waimakariri and Selywn district, approximately in a 50 km radius of central Christchurch.

  • Lyttelton, the port town just over the Port Hills from the city, is accessible by car/bus through the tunnel, or by the scenic Port Hills route via the seaside suburb of Sumner. (The road from Sumner over Evans Pass to Lyttelton is closed because of earthquake damage; the epicenter of the 2011 earthquake was close to the surface here.) Although only 15 km (9 mi) from the central city, Lyttelton feels like another world entirely, with its cafes, bars, shops and locals, its ever-busy port, its stunning hilly backdrop and beautiful harbour. But because of the 2011 earthquake damage, Lyttelton is no longer the port of call for cruise ships visiting Christchurch; it has been shifted to Akaroa.
  • Banks Peninsula is on the edge of the city, and offers a quieter beauty than the Alps, but quite lovely. At its southern end of the peninsula is Akaroa – beautiful, quaint and packed with good eateries. Try out the "Swim with the Dolphins in the sea" trip.

Further afield[edit]

Routes through Christchurch
KaikouraKaiapoi  N State Highway 1 NZ.svg S  TimaruDunedin
West CoastArthur's Pass  W State Highway 73 NZ.svg E  END
END  N State Highway 75 NZ.svg S  Akaroa


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