The Garden City recovers from adversity to build a bold future
The largest city in the South Island is also the country’s third most populous, and its position a third of the way down the east coast makes it a convenient gateway to the rest of the island. Nestled east of the Canterbury Plains, it has its own satellite harbour town, Lyttleton, just across the Port Hills, where cruise liners deliver their sightseeing passengers. Ravaged by two major earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, the city is in recovery mode, with the rebuilding of the CBD and affected suburbs continuing apace. Many heritage buildings were lost, yet there’s a lot of excitement about the future look and vibe of the city centre, which is already buzzing with new bars, restaurants, shops and civic spaces. Located just an hour east of Mt Hutt ski resort, the city is also a major transit point for skiers and snowboarders looking for perfect conditions. Meanwhile, great trout- and salmon-fishing spots abound at any number of lakes and rivers within easy reach.
Things to do
Cathedral Square gives visitors poignant insight into the damage inflicted by the earthquake, with the Anglican cathedral that gives the square its name a mere shell of its former self. As a counterpoint, visit the innovative Transitional “Cardboard” Cathedral opens in new window, constructed as a temporary replacement.
International Antarctic Centre
Visit the Antarctic without leaving Christchurch by exploring the International Antarctic Centre opens in new window, featuring a visitor centre known as The Antarctic Attraction that boasts wild little blue penguins on the road to recovery.
Just 84km east of Christchurch on Banks Peninsula, Akaroa opens in new window is an English and French settlement bursting at the seams with colonial and Maori history. A popular resort in summer, it offers swimming with dolphin tours that are a major drawcard.
Mt Hutt Ski Area
An hour inland from the CBD is Mt Hutt opens in new window with its 365ha of slopes for snow bunnies of all ages and abilities. The season generally begins in mid-June and runs for several months. A daily shuttle service operates between Methven and Christchurch.
Distance to city centre 12km
Taxi A taxi to the city centre takes around 15 minutes and costs NZD $45-65.
Shuttle A transfer with SuperShuttle opens in new window takes around 35 minutes and costs from around NZD $20.
Bus Both Metro opens in new window 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 mid to late January, the annual Buskers Festival opens in new window sees all kinds of entertainment and free family fun hit the city’s streets and venues. In November, the New Zealand Cup opens in new window and Show Day Races opens in new window bring days of horse racing, fashion, food and entertainment for all.
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Christchurch is mostly flat, making cycling a great way to get around the city. Metro opens in new windowruns bus and ferry services in the city and suburbs. The ferry connects Lyttleton to Diamond Harbour. Christchurch Tram opens in new window 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