Christchurch is the largest city in the South island and is home to some 350,000 people. Its the third largest city in New Zealand behind Auckland and Wellington. If your flying to the South island then you’d likely be flying into Christchurch international airport. The airport is a 15 minute drive from the centre. Now, I say centre but after nearly a year of living there we never discovered the centre.
♦ Background. The city centre was destroyed in 2011 by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake of which you’ll see the effects throughout the city. The quake killed 185 people and was the strongest ever earthquake recorded in an urban area. So far the quake has cost the New Zealand government $20 – $30 Billion NZD and has caused a lifetime of grief for many of the cities residents. The quake has spread the city out in all directions. As a result, some amenities are on the opposite ends of town from one another which, as you could imagine is an annoyance to say the least. This also means that you need a car to experience the best that Christchurch has to offer.
♦ The Port Hills. The Port Hills are on the eastern side of Christchurch and offer bunch of activities. Firstly, we enjoyed going there for a Sunday walk. It’ll take you an hour and a half to get to the top and once you get there you’ll be gifted a view over Lyttelton (pictured left) on the eastern side and the remainder of Christchurch on the Western side. The views up there are stunning and we think the Port Hills are Christchurch’s best feature. If you don’t fancy the walk you can catch a gondola up to the top, this is how many mountain bikers get up to the many tracks the port hill has to offer. The port hill also offers Rock Climbing with a view, although, you’ll need to bring your own gear for this one.
♦ The Botanical Gardens. These are situated next to Hagley park and have the Avon River running alongside it. We’ve spent half a day here walking around the giant green house and through the rose garden. You’ll likely see people punting along the Avon or kayaking down it. There is a café in the middle of the gardens which providing a nice modern touch and a relaxing family area. It has squidgy outdoor beanbags which are great for a snooze on a warm day. In our opinion the Botanical Gardens indicate the centre of Christchurch.
♦ Hagley Park. In summer time there is always something going on. Be sure to take a look on Event Finder for your specific dates to see if there is anything exciting happening. We have spent many nights here at food markets, fireworks, lantern festivals and even the opera!
♦ Earthquake Memorial. This is an excellent tribute to the victims of the 2011 earthquake. It’s situated in the centre of town and displays 185 white chairs in recognition and remembrance of the 185 people that died that day. The expression is striking and a true loss can be felt.
♦ The Container Village. When in the city centre you can also walk to the container village. This is a shopping and café area created from containers. It has a really nice atmosphere, it’s modern, creative and give you hope for the city.
♦ Accommodation. It will cost you $30NZD per night for a dorm room and a double will start from $70NZD – Do try and book ahead as there are not too many options here and its easy to get caught out and be on the outskirts of town. Our advise would be to look for accomodation near Hagley park.
Christchurch was once renowned for being the best place to live in New Zealand and we hope that it gets back to that same place again soon. As for now however, its not the best.We’d suggest spending no more than two days here, if for any reason you have to stay longer be sure to take a day trip to the stunning little town of Akaroa to swim with the worlds smallest and rarest Hector Dolphins. And if your here for the winter months be sure to check out the New Zealand’s best slopes at Mt Hutt.