How to Visit Christchurch on a Budget
Welcome to the budget-friendly city of Christchurch. The South Island‘s largest city is renowned for its picturesque gardens and its sad-yet-intriguing earthquake history whose impact is apparent today. Being a New Zealand city, beautiful landscapes are never too far away and simply stretching your legs to explore them ensures a cheap and cheerful visit. As you can see from the accommodation listings of this guide to Christchurch on a budget, the array of cheap stays is extensive between the lively hostels, nature-absorbing holiday parks, cool budget hotels, authentic homestays and B&Bs.
All in all, Christchurch is a breeze to visit on a budget so find out how to do it in this complete budget travel guide to Christchurch.
6 Tips to Save Money When Visiting Christchurch
- Christchurch is easier and cheaper to explore using public transport – find out more in our guide to Public Transport in Christchurch
- Yes, Uber exists in Christchurch and can be a cheaper option than taking a standard taxi
- Avoid the high season if you can (November to March) to see cheaper activity and accommodation rates
- Stay in the budget hostels, hotels, motels and holiday parks in the city – check out your options in the 10 Best Budget Accommodations in Christchurch and the 10 Best Backpacker Hostels in Christchurch
- Although there are cheap eats in Christchurch, the best way to save money on food is by cooking for yourself in self-catering accommodation. There are heaps of affordable supermarkets around, with the larger supermarkets like PAK’nSAVE, New World and Countdown available across the city
- Hit the free and cheap museums, parks, gardens, walks and more as listed in the 26 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch.
For more generic budget tips, check out the 21 Ways to Save Money When Travelling in New Zealand.
Free Activities in Christchurch
Experience the city highlights and surrounding landscape without spending a dime!
Hagley Park and the Botanic Gardens
A good place to start, if you’re staying in Christchurch city centre, is exploring Hagley Park and the Botanic Gardens. As Christchurch is known as the “Garden City”, see these iconic city-centre parks that sit side-by-side. The Botanic Gardens boasts an array of water features, themed gardens, winter gardens and much more. Check out our 10 Beautiful Gardens & Parks in Christchurch for more parks to visit and their locations.
Alongside the gardens, the Canterbury Museum offers another free attraction. Inside, learn about the local Maori, European and natural history of Christchurch and the surrounding region, as well as the city’s connection to the Antarctic, in an array of captivating displays.
Port Hills, Sumner Beach and New Brighton
Surrounding Christchurch, various landscapes are available to explore from the Port Hills to the long sandy beaches on the coast. Sumner Beach and New Brighton Beach are certainly highlights; easy to get to by bus and bringing their own charms.
At Sumner, explore the arches and caves, while New Brighton is home to a 300 m (980 ft) pier giving an alternative perspective of the coast. Learn more about New Brighton in the 10 Free & Cheap Things To Do in New Brighton.
Although shopping is an obvious thing to do in a city, the farmers’ markets are something of an attraction. A list of markets for Christchurch looks a little something like this:
- Christchurch Farmers Market (Saturday morning, Riccarton House and Bush)
- Christchurch Night Market (Thursday, 6-11 pm, The Hub Hornby)
- The Riccarton Markets (Sunday, 9 am – 2 pm, Riccarton Park)
- New Brighton Seaside Market (Saturday, 10 am – 2 pm, 25 Brighton Mall)
- Lyttelton Market (Saturday, 10 am – 1 pm, London Street).
Finally, if you’re not visiting on a weekend, then head to the Riverside Market which is an indoor market venue open seven days a week! For more markets, see our The Food Guide to Christchurch.
For more free stuff, see the 26 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch.
Cheap Activities in Christchurch
If you have a little bit of cash to spare in your travel budget, then you might want to add some of Christchurch’s affordable attractions to the itinerary.
Quail Island Day Trip
We briefly touched on the suburb of Lyttelton in the section above, which is also the launch point for trips to Quail Island. For around NZ$35 per person, the Quail Island ferry takes you to an island rich in history as a quarantine station, leprosy colony, training centre for Antarctic expeditions and much more. It also has some scenic beaches and walks with a wealth of birdlife to discover. Check out more experiences nearby in the 10 Best Things to Do in Lyttelton.
This museum gives visitors a deeper understanding of Christchurch’s recent history of the Canterbury Earthquakes. We recommend visiting Quake City early in your visit to Christchurch in order to put things into perspective as you’re bound to witness the redevelopment of this city even several years later. Entry is approximately NZ$20 per person, while children go free if accompanied by an adult. Find it at 299 Durham Street North.
He Puna Taimoana Hot Pools
If you don’t go to New Brighton for the pier, at least go for a rejuvenating soak in the He Puna Taimoana Hot Pools. The complex features five saltwater hot pools ranging from 26°C to 40°C (79-104°F). The hot pools are around NZ$20. Special sunrise sessions are also available on selected days to enhance the experience!
Christchurch City Tramway
Step back in time and enjoy this old-worldly transport method of getting around the inner city. The beautifully restored Christchurch Tramway (more info on Viator and Klook) is a fun way to explore the city where you can hop-on and hop-off as much as you like. What’s more, families will be pleased to find that kids get to ride for free! Check out more experiences like this in the 10 Things to Do in Christchurch with Kids.
For more cheap activities, again, head to the 26 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch.
Cheap Eats in Christchurch
You’re in the city now! There’s no need to buy overpriced cafe cabinet food or expensive pizzas (why are the pizzas in New Zealand so expensive?)
Christchurch offers an array of local and international flavours in its takeaways, cafes, restaurants and food trucks. Some of the highlights include Mosaic by Simo (No. 3/300 Lincoln Road) where you choose a meat/salad/sauce combo for around NZ$9.50. Don’t miss Dimitris Greek Food (96 Oxford Street) where all of their souvlaki meals (singles, doubles and triples) are under NZ$20! The same goes for their Greek salad platters.
For more local eats, try Bunrunners Cafe (87c Fitzgerald Avenue) for their savoury pies and Southland cheese rolls. Oversized burgers are kind of a thing on the South Island, which is backed by the vegan and meat monsters of Slick Burgers (54 Ferry Road). Alternatively, Big Gary’s (249B Riccarton Road) does some of the cheapest burgers, loaded fries and general comfort food in the city!
More About Christchurch
That’s it from the travel guide to Christchurch on a budget. For more affordable experiences in the South Island’s largest city, take a look at the following guides:
- 10 Beautiful Gardens & Parks in Christchurch
- 45 Best Things to Do in Christchurch
- The Complete Travel Guide to Christchurch
Check out even more money-saving tips in The Travel Guide to New Zealand on a Budget.