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 where 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 of a budget, the array of budget 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.
Budget Tips for 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, motel and holiday parks in the city – check out your options in the 10 Best Budget Accommodation in Christchurch and the 9 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 14 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch.
For more generic budget tips, check out the 11 Ways to Save Money When Backpacking in New Zealand.
Free Activities in Christchurch
Experience the city highlights and surrounding landscape without spending a dime! 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 the 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.
Surrounding Christchurch, various landscapes are available to explore between the Port Hills to the long sandy beaches on the coast. Sumner Beach and New Brighton Beach are 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 300m (980ft) 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. The Christchurch Farmers’ Market at Riccarton House & Bush is a bustling hub of arts, crafts, street food and artisan goods happening every Saturday from 9am to 1pm. The Downtown Farmers’ Market is another opportunity to experience a classic Kiwi event every Sunday at The Commons. A super popular one is the Lyttelton Farmers Market on Saturday mornings in this picturesque harbour suburb.
For more free stuff, see the 14 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.
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$25 per person, the Quail Island ferry takes you to an island rich in history as a quarantine station, leprosy colony, training centre of Antarctic expeditions and much more. It also has some scenic beaches and walks with a wealth of birdlife to discover. Check out more things to do in Lyttelton here.
There are a few more museums in Christchurch well worth visiting to educate yourself and, well, see some cool stuff. While the Air Force Museum is free and full of beautifully preserved warplanes, they also offer an array of events and activities that are typically under NZ$10. Alternatively, Quake City in the city centre is NZ$20 entry to learn all about the famous Canterbury earthquakes which impacted the city in 2010/11.
For more cheap activities, head to the 14 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 Shirley’s Kitchen (72 Waimairi Road) for its filling Malaysian dishes for under NZ$10. A popular joint is Steampunk Laboratory (270 St Asaph Street) serving cheap Korean cup-bops where you can add your own sauces at the counter.
For more local eats, try Bun Runners Cafe (Fitzgerald Avenue) for their Southland cheese rolls or “Southland sushi”. You’ll also find 3 Cows Cafe, Bar and Restaurant (71 Victoria Street) and C1 Espresso (Tuam Street) serving hearty cooked Kiwi breakfasts.