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Welcome to Christchurch


Christchurch is the South Island's largest city. It's a vibrant, cosmopolitan place with exciting festivals, theatre, modern art galleries, great shopping and award-winning attractions.

The earthquake that hit Christchurch should not stop people from holidaying in the area. Part of the central city of Christchurch is still cordoned off to the general public to ensure people's safety and this cordon is gradually receding as more of the city is deemed safe and open for business. It is likely however, that some isolated parts of the city will remain behind cordons for some time while rebuilding takes place. Christchurch remains the gateway to the amazing experiences that are on offer in the Canterbury region and the wider South Island. The grey-stone nineteenth century buildings, tree-lined avenues and extensive leafy parks give the city an elegant, rather English atmosphere – you can even take a leisurely journey down the Avon River in a punt. Expect a high standard of cuisine wherever you go - restaurants and cafes make the most of the region's delicacies and local wines - suburban dining precincts around the city have been rediscovered since the earthquake. 

Dubbed the 'Garden City', it is the lively capital of the Canterbury region, priding itself on its green areas, arts and history as well as its sports. The surrounds offer beach suburbs, protected bays and dolphin swimming, green valleys and snow-capped mountain ranges for skiing, hiking, mountain biking and climbing. The city itself has a relaxed and cosmopolitan centre with historic trams rattling along the streets of the bustling downtown area, a lively pub and restaurant scene, theatres, street buskers, museums and art galleries.

Information & Facts


Christchurch has a fairly dry temperate climate, with warm to hot summers and mild winters. Summer temperatures range from mild to extremely hot, often moderated by sea breezes blowing in from the northeast. Northwesterly winds, however, are not so kind; hot air blows in with increasing strength and has been known to reach storm force, wreaking havoc on occasion. Winters bring clear, cold days, with temperatures often dropping below freezing level at night, with frost. Snow is a rarity in the city, but falls occasionally in the suburban hills. An unpleasant feature of Christchurch winters is the prevalence of smog, caused by an inversion layer that forms above the city. Rainfalls can be expected any time of year, but are more likely in winter.

Getting Around

Christchurch has an efficient public transport system and is an easy city to negotiate. The bus service is reliable and has a Midnight Express service running from 12pm to 4am on four principal routes. Free, bright yellow electric shuttles service the city centre, with easy-to-spot bright yellow pick up points. Visitors can also enjoy a ride on the city's tram, which runs from Cathedral Square, and the City Circuit Bus connects major attractions in the city. Taxis are readily available and there are also several car rental agencies. Bicycles are another popular mode of transport and the city has several safe bike routes.


The official languages in New Zealand are English and Maori.


Local currency is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD), divided into 100 cents. Most businesses accept MasterCard and Visa, and while Diners Club and American Express are also widely accepted in the main tourist centres, they might have limited acceptance elsewhere. Travellers cheques and foreign currency can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and some hotels. ATMs can be found in all towns and cities.


Christchurch has a laid-back nightlife scene, particularly when compared to cities on New Zealand's North Island. Nightlife hotspots generally only begin to get started at around 11pm. The best area to find pubs and clubs in Christchurch is the trendy Oxford Terrace.

Viaduct, Tap Room and Liquidity all attract energetic crowds ready to party the night away. Coyote has a great, and usually packed, dance floor, while Rootes Bar is great for cocktails and people watching. Tequila lovers will be in their element at The Flying Burrito Brothers, and Dux de Lux is the best live music venue in town. There is a selection of popular and usually pumping dance clubs including The Concrete Club and Double Happy. Sammy's Jazz Review Bar hosts classy live jazz gigs and Twisted Hop Microbrewery is the best place to find a proper, but cold, English beer. Christchurch also has a selection of sports bars; some of the more popular ones include Legends, Holy Grail and The Loaded Hog.

The hilly Banks Peninsula is the result of two massive and violent volcanic eruptions, creating a sea-filled crater surrounded by green hills and a number of little bays that radiate out from the circular shape of land. The Maori name Akaroameans 'long harbour' and the little French-influenced town of the same name is situated on the picturesque shores of the harbour, a long finger of water extending into the interior of the land. It is Canterbury's oldest village and its French character, due to the first European settlers, is evident in the street names, quaint historical architecture and French inspired cuisine. The pretty town is surrounded by attractive scenery; a volcanic landscape of fertile green hills scattered with woolly sheep and vineyards, and crisscrossed by walking trails and winding narrow roads. The calm waters of the harbour are perfect for water sports and boat cruises, with an opportunity to swim with dolphins.

Cathedral Square is the hub of the city centre and is dominated by the city's landmark, Christchurch Cathedral, a grand Gothic structure with a tall spire, and a cool and spacious interior with marvellous acoustics. It is possible to climb the narrow staircase to the bell tower for a splendid panoramic view of the city. In front of the cathedral, the city's most quirky character, fondly known as 'The Wizard', performs his daily eccentric routine for the crowd from atop a ladder, ranting about all things from politics and politicians to religion, love and bureaucracy. Nearby the giant chessboard painted on the square attracts avid players and spectators, with enormous pieces to be shifted during strategic moves, as challengers pit their skills against one another. The cathedral was severely damaged in the 2011 eaerthquake and is currently closed for repairs.

The spectacular ride takes visitors to the top of the crater rim of Christchurch's extinct volcano on the outskirts of the city, unfolding magnificent views of the city, over the Canterbury Plains and towards the Southern Alps, and the sweep of Pegasus Bay and Lyttelton Harbour, as it rises to 1,460ft (445m) above sea level. At the summit the Gondola Complex features the Time Tunnel Heritage Show with a walk-through exhibition and video relaying the history and geological evolution of the Canterbury region as well as Maori mythology. From the summit it is possible to walk back down through the Port Hills to Sumner Beach. The Gondola was damaged in the 2011 earthquake and is currently closed for repairs.

Trams were part of the city's transport system until 1954 and today these heritage trams have been beautifully restored, offering visitors a unique experience that takes one on a two-mile (3km) loop of many of the city's best features and main attractions. The drivers, who offer insight on the history, architecture, activities and points of interest, supply informative and entertaining commentary. Visitors can hop on and off at any of the stops to further explore the attractions at leisure. The most interesting sights include Cathedral Square, the Aquarium of Discovery, punting on the Avon River, the exquisite Botanic Gardens on the banks of the river, New Regent Street with its pretty Spanish mission-style architecture, the magnificent Gothic buildings of the Arts Centre, and Canterbury Museum, with an excellent Antarctic exhibition. The Chrustchurch Tramway was damaged in the 2011 earthquake and is currently closed for repairs.

Mount Cook National Park is known for its exquisite alpine beauty and is home to the highest mountain in New Zealand, Mount Cook. Its Maori name, 'Aoraki' means 'cloud piercer' and at 12,016 feet (3,755m) it towers above the surrounding snow-covered peaks in the park. A third of the park is covered in permanent ice and snow and the mighty Tasman Glacier is the longest glacier outside of the polar regions. Glacial melt gives the lakes their beautiful milky, turquoise colour and there are many walks in the area to take in the dramatic beauty. Mount Cook has always been the focus of climbing and mountaineering, most notably the expeditions of Sir Edmund Hillary, who went on to be the first man to reach the summit of the world's highest mountain, Mount Everest.

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