A Travel Guide to Christchurch
Many travellers agree that Christchurch is one of the most unique cities. The largest city in the South Island has a captivating story from its Maori heritage, English influences (said to be the most English city outside of England), and the more recent impact of the Canterbury earthquakes. The result of the latter has created a thriving and regenerative city with something new to offer even locals who been here a thousand times. While the inner city offers, quite frankly, gorgeous gardens and unique sightseeing tours (double-decker, tram or VW Combi, anyone?), Christchurch is a short drive away from some of the South Island’s major highlights and iconic landscapes.
Start planning your city escape according to your desired travel style with this complete travel guide to Christchurch.
Fast Facts About Christchurch
Location: Midway down the east coast of the South Island in the Canterbury region.
Climate: Daily average temperature – 11.9°C/53.5°F, yearly average rainfall – 604mm/23.8″
Find out more in What is the Weather Like in New Zealand?
Time zone: NZST / GMT+12/+13
Weather: Find out more in our guide, Christchurch Weather & Climate: What is the Weather Like in Christchurch?
How to get to Christchurch: Christchurch is well connected to the rest of the South Island via State Highway 1. It has an international airport, Christchurch International Airport, which also has frequent domestic flights from Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown. Christchurch is on the main national bus route, which you can find more information about in Bus Networks in New Zealand. You can also access Christchurch by train from Greymouth and Picton.
Christchurch for Budget Travellers
You don’t have to spend a lot to have a diverse, fun and educational travel experience in the South Island’s largest city. With several museums to choose from to suit your interests, gorgeous gardens and parks, island trips, beach-to-mountain hikes, there’s really a lot of free and affordable things to do in Christchurch. Not to mention that the city offers one of the most extensive ranges of budget accommodations in the country, where you can either meet other travellers or enjoy your own space on the cheap. Plan your cheap getaway using The Guide to Christchurch on a Budget.
Budget Activities in Christchurch
- Explore the Botanic Gardens
- Visit the Canterbury Museum
- Check out Sumner or New Brighton Beach
- Take the ferry to Quail Island
- See the warplanes at the Air Force Museum
For more inspiration, check out the 14 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch.
Budget Accommodation in Christchurch
The budget accommodation offering in Christchurch is huge – and that’s an understatement. You have multiple options of hostels, holiday parks, budget hotels, motels, homestays, B&Bs and holiday homes. Check out our recommendations in the 10 Best Budget Accommodation in Christchurch.
Christchurch for Luxury Travellers
Why stay in Christchurch during a luxury trip around New Zealand? Enjoy the comforts, tastes and convenience of city living while experiencing the landscapes that New Zealand is famous for. Soar over the Canterbury Plains and the Southern Alps in a helicopter or hot air balloon excursion, take a private tour of the local wine region, or ride first class on one of the world’s most scenic train journeys. After your day of exploring, retreat to the lavish hotels, luxury apartments and boutique lodges of the inner city. Plan for your exceptional city getaway with The Luxury Guide to Christchurch.
Premium Tours in Christchurch
- Take to the skies in a luxury helicopter excursion
- See the sights of Christchurch in a VW Combi
- Ride Scenic Plus Class on the renowned TranzAlpine (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Soak in the scenery from a hot air balloon
- Do a multi-day luxury trip of the South Island starting from Christchurch with The Road Trip (Viator and Tripadvisor).
For elaboration on each experience and more, see the 10 Luxury Activities in Christchurch.
Premium Accommodation in Christchurch
A four-to-five-star hotel boasting either charming heritage or contemporary architecture, a boutique lodge, indulgent B&B, or your own private luxury apartment: which will you choose? Find out more in the 10 Best Luxury Accommodation in Christchurch.
Christchurch for Families
A trip to Christchurch for families means bonding over the interactive and educational museums, exploring the free gardens of the “Garden City”, and experiencing adventure on the thrilling zipline tours and treetop obstacle courses. You’ll hardly struggle for things to do in Christchurch with the kids, so use the city as a place to recharge from road tripping around the South Island. Check out more advice in The Guide to Christchurch for Families.
Family-friendly Activities in Christchurch
- Ride the chairlifts, find the fairy doors or zipline over the trees at Christchurch Adventure Park (more details on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Do the treetop obstacle course of Adrenalin Forest (Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Take a day tour to see New Zealand’s largest blue penguin colony (Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Experience the Polar regions at the International Antarctic Centre (Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Ride the Christchurch city tram (Viator and Tripadvisor).
For more details on each experience and others, see 10 Things to Do in Christchurch with Kids.
Family Accommodation in Christchurch
Family rooms come in many forms in Christchurch, from budget-friendly and fun-filled holiday parks in the outer city to self-contained motels in the city. Check out some of our top picks in the 10 Best Family Accommodation in Christchurch.
Christchurch for Couples
Christchurch is a must on the honeymoon or couples’ getaway itinerary of the South Island! Arguably the most romantic city in New Zealand, it’s awash in stunning gardens, breathtaking beaches and hilltops displaying the vibrant blue waters of the city’s intricate harbour network. You can do all the usual date night activities, such as going to the theatre or indulging in fine dining, while there’s also the opportunity to do something new and unique. Find out more in The Honeymoon Guide to Christchurch.
Things to Do in Christchurch for Couples
- Experience punting on the Avon River
- Hike to the top of the Port Hills
- Wander around the picturesque Mona Vale
- Dress up for a night at the theatre
- Book a table for two on the Christchurch Tramway Restaurant (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor).
For elaboration on each activity, check out the 10 Romantic Activities in Christchurch for Couples.
Romantic Accommodation in Christchurch
Set the right tone for your city escape by staying in the cute boutique B&Bs and lodges or impress your loved one with a night at a lavish hotel. Check out some options in the 10 Best Romantic Accommodation in Christchurch.
Christchurch for Foodies
Christchurch is often underrated for its food scene. Sure, the South Island has bigger wine regions and larger beer brands elsewhere, but Christchurch is home to some of the best boutique artisans of the South. The wine region of the Waipara Valley, the array of craft beer producers, gin distillers and artisans at Christchurch’s huge array of markets makes the city an absolute must for foodies. Plan your gastronomical trip using The Foodie Guide to Christchurch.
Food Tours and Activities in Christchurch
- Take a tour of the Waipara wine region
- Experience Christchurch’s iconic farmers’ markets
- Try a Moari hangi with Ko Tane Maori Experience (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Go on a “kai safari” on a Maori food tour
- Taste and tour The Spirits Workshop Distillery.
For more details on each experience and more, see the 9 Things to Do in Christchurch for Foodies.
Foodie Accommodation in Christchurch
The restaurants of Christchurch’s hotels make up the vibrant dining scene of the city, so make it easy for yourself by booking a room in said hotels. Otherwise, self-catering accommodation is available in the city should you want to experiment with ingredient picked up at the local markets. Check out recommendations in the 10 Best Accommodation in Christchurch for Foodies.