How to spend the perfect 48 hours in Christchurch
Gain insight into the planet's southernmost continent, traditional Maori culture and the South Island's earthquake history, then enjoy great food, wine and coffee - you can do it all in this Kiwi city.
- March 2020
From chic wine bars and eclectic coffee dens to cool (literally!) museums, cultural experiences and urban adventures, Christchurch has plenty to pack into an exciting weekend getaway.
Visit the International Antarctic Centre
It turns out that -18°C is extremely cold! Fortunately, it is just a brief but enjoyable icy moment in the storm dome at the International Antarctic Centre. Christchurch has a storied history, being a regular departure point for some of the 20th century’s most extraordinary explorers, such as Robert Falcon Scott, heading to the frozen continent. Their travails are told here through image, film and hands-on displays alongside a more modern history of the coldest, windiest and driest landmass on earth.
Have an ‘obstacle course’ adventure
Australia’s “Ninja Warriors” have much to answer for. You don’t need to be carved out of granite like the contestants on the TV show but it does pay to have your wits about when you visit the Adrenalin Forest in Spencerville. Set among the towering pines is a series of eight obstacle courses that challenge your head, heart, sense of balance and fear of heights as they increase in difficulty. (Relax, you are clipped in.)
Go on a traditional cultural tour
Let’s hear it for the poi (a Polynesian dance). And titi tōrea (stick games). They are just a couple of things you could be called upon to participate in during the Ko Tāne Māori cultural experience. The afternoon begins with a guided tour of native New Zealand kiwi and kea, followed by interactive Māori cultural experiences and performances, and concluding with a traditional hāngī (food cooked in pits) meal.
Smell (and drink) the coffee
From the Congo to Colombia and a dozen countries in between, C4 Coffee on Fitzgerald Avenue has more international blends than you can poke a plunger at. Part café, part coffee emporium, part hipster hangout – it could all be a little too “now” if the brews weren’t so good and the staff so friendly.
Head to a food market
Christchurch’s natural aesthetic has not always translated into city chic but the September opening of the Riverside Market will surely bring the punters back to town. Located on the banks of the very English Avon River, it is a heaving den of 30 independent food outlets and 40 fresh produce stalls open seven days a week. Smartly furnished, it is set to become the city centre’s place to eat, drink and be merry.
Take in the city’s earthquake history
Christchurch wears its history of tectonic tumult on its proverbial sleeve. Quake City – an exhibition that gives perspective on the earthquakes that have rocked the region – is testament to that and to the resilience of the human spirit. The museum shares the city’s story through history, science and human emotion via the accounts of earthquake survivors.
Check out a cool wine bar
With more than 30 choices of local vino to try by the glass, Not Without You could be the most stacked wine bar in NZ. This after-hours gem is a whole lot more than the total of what you can tipple, however. From the wooden tables to the brews, almost everything is sourced from the region. Head there on a Friday, grab the generous cheese platter and some local smoked meats or fish and a beer and you will probably find yourself settled in for the evening.