The Garden City blooms with innovation
A blend of old and new, urban and outdoorsy, Christchurch is a truly unique city. Punt down the Avon River past perfectly manicured gardens and some of New Zealand’s oldest buildings, then spend the evening enjoying the rejuvenated city’s street art, cutting edge architecture and contemporary culinary scene.
Even though Christchurch is a great city in its own right, it also provides an excellent base to explore the surrounding region. The popular Mt Hutt ski resort is just an hour east, so Christchurch is a major transit point for skiers and snowboarders looking for perfect conditions. But it’s not just for snow sports afficionados – from exploring the wineries of Waipara and the historic towns of the Banks Peninsula, to whale-watching in Kaikōura and thermal relaxation at Hamner Springs, there’s plenty to do.
Things to do: Christchurch
Take a punt on the Avon
Meander through the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, located in verdant Hagley Park on the edge of the city. Or better yet, explore it from the water as you go punting along the Avon River. Leaving from the historic Antigua Boatsheds, you’ll cruise past the Botanic Gardens, spot wildlife and weeping willows, glide under ornate bridges and understand why Christchurch is called the Garden City.
Chill out at the International Antarctic Centre
Visit Antarctica without leaving Christchurch by exploring the award-winning International Antarctic Centre. Learn about life in the Antarctic through a range of icy interactive experiences. Brave the chilly Storm Dome, take a ride on an all-terrain amphibious Antarctic vehicle, observe the adorable little blue penguins, or immerse yourself in the 4D theatre. And don’t forget to get a picture with the ever-popular huskies.
Check out the Cardboard Cathedral
After the stately Christ Church Cathedral was severely damaged in the 2011 earthquake, the Christchurch Transitional Cathedral was built largely out of cardboard to replace it. The Cardboard Cathedral, as it is affectionately known, has become an absolute icon of the city. You can take a tour of this innovative structure, with its undulating interior walls, to learn about the history and construction of this extraordinary building.
Explore the Banks Peninsula
A scenic, one-hour drive along the Banks Peninsula will put you in the heart of Akaroa, a French-influenced settlement bursting with history. Go dolphin or penguin spotting in the sheltered Akaroa Harbour or explore local produce in one of Akaroa’s fine eateries. A bit closer to Christchurch, the bohemian Banks Peninsula town of Lyttelton boasts hip cafes, quirky shopping and a great live music scene.
Go skiing at Mt Hutt
An hour inland from central Christchurch is Mt Hutt, a ski resort with 365ha of slopes for skiers and snowboarders of all ages and abilities. It’s regularly voted New Zealand’s Best Ski Resort and it’s one of the biggest and highest ski areas on the South Island. The season generally begins in mid-June and runs for several months. A daily shuttle service operates between Methven and Christchurch.
Christchurch International Airport (CHC)
Distance to city centre 12km
Taxi A taxi to the city centre takes around 20 minutes and costs NZD $45-65.
Shuttle A transfer with SuperShuttle takes around 35 minutes and costs from around NZD $20.
Bus Both Metro bus route 29 and Purple Line leave the airport every half hour and takes around 30 minutes to the central bus interchange. Tickets cost around NZD $8.50.
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When to go
Christchurch’s temperate climate means moderate rainfall and lots of sunshine, even in winter, when temperatures often fall below 0°C. The winter months fall at mid-year and snowfalls occur occasionally, though heavy frosts are more common. Summer begins round Christmas and sees mild, warm conditions, with temperatures sometimes soaring into the 30s and beyond.
From late April to early May, the annual Buskers Festival sees all kinds of entertainment and free family fun hit the city’s streets and venues. Every May, Christchurch hosts its fair share of gigs as part of New Zealand Music Month.
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Christchurch is mostly flat, making cycling a great way to get around the city. Metro runs bus and ferry services in the city and suburbs. The ferry connects Lyttleton to Diamond Harbour. Christchurch Tram runs a city tour route on restored heritage trams, plying a one-way, hop-on hop-off circuit around the city centre. Tickets are around NZD $25.Back to top
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