Christchurch: The Garden City
Quick facts about Christchurch
Christchurch, the third largest city in New Zealand, is located on the east coast of country’s South Island. City has predominantly English heritage with elements of indigenous, Maori culture. Main city areas include Cathedral Square, where many city’s landmarks are located, together with ‘Cardboard Cathedral’, Hagley Park, with expansive green area and Avon River and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve and Orana Wildlife Park.
Popular city day tours include visit to farms and vineyards and climbing with cable car to Mt. Cavendish for panoramic city views. Christchurch has many preserved areas to remind visitors of past time, such as authentic tram ride through city center and Ferrymead Heritage Park with buildings from 1900s. During summer time, city activities shift to the coast where several sandy beaches are popular with families and holiday makers.
Christchurch city center and many other areas was destroyed during terrible earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 and city is making every effort to rebuild and recover from this disaster.
Main attractions in Christchurch
International Antarctic Centre. Located near Christchurch, this is popular tourist attraction with Antarctic simulations, rides and animals such as penguins and huskies. Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Founded in 1863 to mark royal wedding, today this garden is home to many local and exotic plants and several conservatories. Located in central area of Hagley Park. Hagley Park. Large recreational area with botanical gardens, small lake and sports courts. Popular for walks and picnics and featuring a museum.
Canterbury Museum. Located centrally in Christchurch, this museum features many exhibits from local indigenous population and regional history. Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. Local wildlife reserve featuring kiwis, and Maori traditional performances. Located in north Christchurch and has a restaurant. Orana Wildlife Park. Located on the northwest outskirt of Christchurch, this is the only open range zoo in New Zealand. Featuring giraffes, gorillas, lions, white rhinos and kiwis.
Punting On The Avon. Sightseeing boat rides on Avon River, with a guide dressed in period clothing. Ride lasts about 30 minutes and takes you through river view experience of tranquil waters. Christchurch Gondola. Stunning views from the cablecar ride taking you to 500 m high peak if Port Hills. A cafe and a gift shop located at the summit. Cardboard Cathedral. Temporary built after cathedral damaged in 2011 earthquake, this cardboard made church became attraction of its own. Designed by famous architect and designer Shigeru Ban.
Air Force Museum of New Zealand. Located in the west outskirt of the city, this is country’s main aviation museum featuring aviation history and aircrafts. Offering guided tours and flight simulation. The Arts Centre te Matatiki Toi Ora. Located next to Hagley Park, this is actually a complex of 23 historic buildings shops, restaurants, art spaces offering various cultural events and art exhibitions. Mona Vale. Located west from Hagley Park, this homestead featuring gardens, riverside walks and a restaurant. Popular location for weddings.
Cathedral Square. Referred to by locals as ‘Square’, is the central space of Christchurch, where Christchurch Anglican cathedral is standing. Popular walking and gathering area. Sumner Beach. Popular sandy beach on the coast. Featuring promenade, surfing opportunities and ice cream parlors. New Regent Street. A street lined with colorful shops offering various items for sale. It’s a pedestrian area and very popular with tourists. Shops were built in 1930s and are in Spanish Mission style.
Christchurch Art Gallery. Also known as Te Puna o Waiwhetū, this is art gallery and art museum showcasing modern art exhibits. Offering films, lectures, guided tours and various cultural events. Christchurch Tramway. Restored heritage trams offering ride throughout Christchurch and passing by main landmarks. Driver is also a guide. Ride lasts about 50 minutes and has 17 stops. Christchurch Casino. Popular entertainment and gambling place with all-inclusive deals. Includes slot machines and table games, restaurants, bars and live shows.
TranzAlpine. Train ride over amazing landscapes and scenic views. It’s a half day ride from Christchurch to Greymouth over the distance of about 245 km. Very popular route. Ferrymead Heritage Park. Heritage museum complex with 1900s style buildings, old machinery and trains and offering train rides. Located on the southeast outskirts of Christchurch. Quake City. A unique attraction presenting events from 2010-2011 earthquakes by fist hand stories and exhibits. Part of the Canterbury museum exhibit space.
From other attractions we recommend: Victoria Park, Bridge of Remembrance, Quail Island and Christchurch Adventure Park.
Top things to do in Christchurch
Christchurch is a small city and most of the attractions can be visited in couple of days. City’s position in the middle of South Island makes it very popular as a base for New Zealand exploration. Immediate surroundings of Christchurch offer hiking and mountain climbing possibilities, farm and vineyard experience and beach and aquatic activities during the summer.
Taking TranzAlpine train is also great experience to have some excellent nature view along the way.
Christchurch has also very lively art and festival scene and there is some activity happening almost daily.
Festivals and events in Christchurch
ASB Christchurch Marathon (June), Christchurch Brick Show (July), Kids Fest (July), New Zealand International Film Festival (August), Women’s Lifestyle Expo (October), Wine and Food Festival (December), Christmas Celebrations (December), Lantern Festival (February), Nostalgia Festival (February), Night Noodle Markets (February), Christchurch Holi (March), Dosa Kitchen (April-June), Mother’s day celebrations (May), Introduction to Te Reo (May).