Cathedral at dusk with street lighting in Christchurch

ChristchurchTravel Guide

In case you didn’t know, Christchurch is booming. Throw out any notions of Christchurch as a quaint English-style village because what you’ll find when you visit is exciting new architecture, vibrant street art, re-energised urban centre and thriving restaurants. The past few years have seen some huge changes in the city, with it emerging as one of the most progressive, resilient places in NZ. Christchurch is also the hub for exploring the majestic Southern Alps, Hanmer Springs and other natural wonders.If you’re planning a visit, explore our Christchurch travel guide and find out how to make the most of your time in the South Island. We’ve collected the best tips from our travel experts, and have all sorts of suggestions for things to do, the best time to travel, where to stay, getting around and more.

Christchurch quick facts

Language

National language

English

Beverages

Bottle of Coke/Pepsi (330ml)

GBP £1.88

Local time

Monday

3:07am

Currency

New Zealand dollar

GBP £1.00 = NZD $2.10

Eating out

Restaurant meal (casual dining)

GBP £11.90

Electricity

Plug type: I

3 pins • 230V

Explore Christchurch

Where to stay in Christchurch?

Wondering where to stay in Christchurch? Since the 2011 earthquake, accommodation options have changed greatly in the city centre. However, expand the surrounding inner-city suburbs offer a plethora of options, and thanks to the compact nature of the city, you’ll still be close enough to all of the action. From Phillipstown to New Brighton, there’s accommodation in Christchurch to suit any taste or budget. The perfect location really depends on your personal preferences and which sites you’d like to have the easiest access to.

Staying in the CBD remains one of the best ways to stay central and see everything you want to see while on tour. The CBD puts you close to historical sites, galleries and fabulous restaurants as well as the centre of the city's public transport network. Expect well-known, affordable hotel chains sitting side by side with more luxurious hotels in the city's historical buildings.


Around a 20-minute drive from Christchurch is the portside suburb of Lyttleton in Christchurch's south. It's the perfect place to stay if you love to be by the sea and value marine history, nature, and a great cup of coffee. Picturesque water views and some truly historic hotels make for a unique home away from home. It's also close to the beautiful Mount Pleasant Scenic Reserve.


West of Christchurch, Methven is a picturesque country town surrounded by natural splendour. If you've come to Christchurch and the Canterbury Region for a bit of outdoor adventure then this location could give you the perfect holiday balance you're after. Enjoy fishing, golf, mountain biking and skiing if you visit in winter. It's only an hour-and-a-half drive from the waiting Christchurch city life.


A coastal suburb out of the city, Sumner is a quiet, low-key place to stay. Overlooking the sea and right next to the sizeable Godley Head Park and nature spot, Sumner is one of the best areas to stay in Christchurch if you're looking for somewhere to simply relax and explore at your own pace.


Escape the city completely and instead go penguin-spotting when staying in Akaroa Village. About an hour south of Christchurch, this is the one-stop shop for anyone who wants to surround themselves in New Zealand's natural wonder. Adorable wildlife, friendly locals, and incredible scenery – Akaroa Village is perfect for when you really want to go beyond the city and further into the Canterbury Region.


Believe us when we say, this is just the start. Book your accommodation today!

  • Distant view on mountain side of the town of Christchurch
    • Canoe docking station on the river of Christchurch
    • City tour cable cart moving through Christchurch
  • Distant view on mountain side of the town of Christchurch
    Distant view on mountain side of the town of Christchurch
    Distant view on mountain side of the town of Christchurch
  • Canoe docking station on the river of Christchurch
    Canoe docking station on the river of Christchurch
    Canoe docking station on the river of Christchurch
  • City tour cable cart moving through Christchurch
    City tour cable cart moving through Christchurch
    City tour cable cart moving through Christchurch

Things to do in Christchurch

As the South Island’s largest city, you can expect to find lots of things to do in Christchurch. Unique shopping malls like The Containers will satisfy your retail urges, while fascinating museums and art spaces in the city’s historical neo-gothic buildings provide insight into Christchurch’s culture. Just beyond the urban area, you’ll find city suburbs like Sumner and Methven, which provide fantastic outdoor activities.

If you'd like nothing more than to get out of the city and right into nature, the Christchurch gondola is for you. Starting in the Heathcote Valley, the gondola takers passengers up Mount Cavendish in the Port Hills. Hop off at the top and go for a hike, take in the view, or simply enjoy a serene ride back to the bottom on one of the returning gondolas.


One of the best places to encounter New Zealand's native wildlife in its natural habitat, the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve is a well-respected South Island conservation location. For those who absolutely must see a real life kiwi with their own eyes before going home, this is where you need to be.


Formerly part of the Canterbury College, the Neolithic Gothic buildings that are now the Christchurch Arts Centre are equally as beautiful as some of the art it is home to. Discover historical writings and local artwork, as well as free theatre productions. Badly damaged in the 2010 Canterbury Earthquakes, the centre is still open for business and is actively fundraising its revitalisation.


The major repository for the history of the Canterbury Region and Christchurch itself is the Canterbury Museum. The museum's exhibits focus on both local and international subjects. Canterbury Museum also hosts larger featured exhibits that provide one-of-a-kind insight into new cultures and time periods. Switch your mind to ‘curious' mode when you enter the museum.


A celebration of Kiwi military ingenuity and creativity, the Air Force Museum of New Zealand is home to many retired aircraft from the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). See planes and other objects used by the RNZAF aircraft prior to and during the World War I conflict. This is a must-see museum if you're interested in military history.


Sitting on 80 glorious hectares of open land, the Orana Wildlife Park is New Zealand's only open range zoo and animal conservation centre. The park is a staunch defender of animal welfare, and its conservation efforts and zoo-based breeding program of exotic and endangered species are revered around the world.


Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu (its full name) is the city's public art gallery, displaying work by both New Zealand and international artists. The Maori part of the name refers to nearby water sources. Te Puna is reference to the Wai Puna spring beneath the city centre. Waiwhetu refers to a nearby tributary flowing into the Avon River. Loosely translated, it means ‘water in which the stars are reflected'.


Science and fun collide at the International Antarctic Centre, one of Christchurch's most popular tourist attractions. Learn about Antarctica through interactive and hands-on exhibitions, as well as gaining insight into every expedition (so far) to the coldest place on Earth. Find out about New Zealand's history with the Antarctic region and experience what it's like being caught in an Antarctica storm.


If you're heading to Christchurch, chances are you already know something about the area's notoriety as an earthquake hotspot. If you'd like to know more about the city's seismic history, learn of the stories of triumph during disaster and the many ways to stay safe in the unlikely event of an earthquake during your stay, the Quake City museum is an excellent pit stop.


Sitting in the heart of Christchurch, the Centre of Contemporary Art (CoCA) is the city's hub of modern art. Displaying local and international modern art, you can expect to find a good rotation of thought-provoking exhibits. That gallery's aim is to provoke a dialogue about the world we live in, which art aficionados and the amateur art critic alike can comment on.


Looking for an immersive experience? Then a tour is the way to go.

Christchurch travel tips

New Zealand is one of the easiest countries for Australian travellers to visit with plenty of flight options to choose from, but there are still some Christchurch travel tips – small differences that make your holiday different to being at home – that you should be aware of. For example, New Zealand uses the dollar, but it’s a different dollar currency to the one we have in Australia. They too speak English, but the pronunciation of certain words or phrases may be altered. Remember, you can always speak to your nearest Flight Centre travel expert should you have any concerns about your trip to New Zealand.

As long as you hold a current Australian passport or are a permanent resident of Australia, you do not need to apply for a visa to New Zealand for your Christchurch holiday. Please note that this is just a guide. For up-to-date information regarding travel visas to New Zealand, visit the New Zealand immigration website.


Tipping in New Zealand is purely optional and generally a tip is only left when exemplary service has been provided. Most wait staff or taxi drivers will happily receive a tip as this goes some way to top up their wage, but you're never actually obliged to add gratuity. Should you feel you want to leave a tip, 10 percent of the bill total will suffice.


Located in Harewood, Christchurch Airport is likely to be your first real glimpse of the South Island. Whether arriving from Australia or flying down from Auckland, you'll find the airport extremely easy to navigate. The single terminal services both international and domestic flights.


English is the primary language in Christchurch, but you may find the pronunciation of some words to be different due to the accent. If you're unsure of what someone said or meant, politely ask them to repeat the phrase. Travel through more of New Zealand and you might encounter the native Maori tongue. Also expect some signposts to be written in Maori as well as English.


The New Zealand Dollar (NZD) is the national currency and is different to the Australian dollar. This means you will need to exchange currency before you depart, but you'll find NZD readily available at currency exchange outlets and banks across Australia. For the best rates, talk to your Flight Centre travel expert or speak to a foreign exchange expert at Travel Money Oz. You'll also find it easy to get additional currency changed in Christchurch should you find you need a little more during your stay.


Electrical plugs and voltage levels in New Zealand are the same as in Australia. This means you're able to take all of your electrical devices with you – hairdryer, phone and laptop chargers, and rechargeable cameras – and plug them straight in once you arrive. You'll also find many establishments offer USB ports, so you can recharge your tech while on the go.


Food in Christchurch is similar to what you'll find in Australia. However, your Christchurch holiday should be a vacation for your taste buds too, so do take the time to explore traditional Maori foods, or British and Maori fusions. Also take the time to enjoy local, seasonal produce by visiting one of the many farmers' markets.


Christchurch food and drink

A reflection of New Zealand’s cultural mix, the Christchurch food and drink scene is a haven for foodies. Traditional Kiwi dishes sit side by side with British-influenced favourites. The result is a delicious fusion of flavours and cooking methods. Expect some tasty meals featuring the locals’ favourite vegetable: the kumara (sweet potato). If you’re keen to sample some of the best food Christchurch has to offer, let your Flight Centre Travel Expert know. A food and drink tour that will delight the senses can be easily booked.

The Christchurch restaurant precincts have really come of age. There's something to suit any taste, from modern, breezy fast food for tasty snacks on the go, to high-class dining and dessert bars for when you desire something more decadent. Notable areas to find great food include Victoria Street, St Asaph Street and Lincoln Road, but spend time walking around the city and you'll discover tasty treasures to suit all palates.


If there's one thing you won't be short of when visiting Christchurch, it's good coffee. Fabulous Christchurch cafes can be found throughout the CBD, and New Zealand-roasted coffee really does taste as good as the smell leads you to believe. Sit down and enjoy your brew in a relaxed space, or grab a skinny latte to go when on your way to one of the city's wonderful landmarks.


New Zealand is known for its relaxed atmosphere, but there's still the option for an exciting night out. Christchurch bars and nightlife range from craft breweries to upscale wine and cocktail bars. Check out Ferrymead and Woolston for trendy artisan beers and ale houses, or Victoria Street for lively cocktails. In the mood to dance? Then Christchurch City is the place to go to discover bands and DJs.


There are plenty of Christchurch food markets for you to visit. Even if you're staying in a hotel and won't be able to cook, set some time aside to take a trip to one of the many outstanding local food markets. Opawa Point Farmers Market in the south and the Christchurch Farmers Market in Fendalton are particularly great.


Get a real taste for the local cuisine by booking a tour.

Christchurch through your eyes

Where to shop in Christchurch?

While the city is home to many familiar big-name outlets, there’s much more to Christchurch shopping, which is why some retail therapy could happily take up a lot of your holiday time. Explore the city’s CBD and you’ll discover local fashion boutiques, historical shopping malls, and traditional family-owned markets. There’s a huge variety of souvenirs just waiting to be found. Plus, window shopping is a great way to discover local fashion and cultural trends.

Whether you're hunting for a bargain, or fancy a lively morning stroll, the weekend Christchurch markets will present a treasure trove of items and produce for you to buy. Make sure you visit The Commons markets in the city centre, but arrive early to enjoy the best selection of items before the crowds arrive.


The New Regent Street precinct is an open-air mall packed with places to shop, eat and be pampered. Expect to find gift and homeware stores, clothing and accessory shops, and salons and cafes. New Regent Street is a great place to spend an afternoon when nothing but retail therapy will do. It's open every day and public transport links run directly to the mall.


Trendy and European inspired, The Colombo is a fusion of shopping and entertainment. Just five minutes from the CBD in Sydenham, take a retail trip here and you can expect to find fashion, beauty, gifts, homewares, and more. Need a retail break? Then park up in one of the cafes or pause for longer and head to the in-house cinema.


The Container Mall was originally installed by the Re:Start project – a retail regeneration movement that aimed to help shops reopen quickly after the 2011 earthquake by setting up in shipping containers. Although the Re:Start project has come to a close, many of the containers remain or have been expanded to become part container, part shop. Expect to find boutique fashion stores, New Zealand products, and food and drink outlets.


For upmarket fashion and designer shopping, the only place to go is The Tannery. The former industrial tanning buildings have been restored and now the mall is a beautiful shopping precinct that boasts an interesting historic edge. Filled with more designer outlets than any other centre in Christchurch, this will be a must-visit shopping destination for the fashion-forward.


Looking for a safe and simple way to bring your money when you travel? Our Travel Money Card has you covered!

When is the best time to travel to Christchurch?

New Zealand does have distinctly seasonal weather, so it’s worth bearing this in mind when thinking about the best time to travel to Christchurch. That said, no matter what the weather in Christchurch is doing, there’s always plenty going on to satisfy your wanderlust. Expect weather that’s warm and dry enough for you to hit the beach or enjoy a hike without being rained on during the summer months. Retire to the city’s many galleries on a rainy autumn afternoon or a brisk winter’s day.

Widely considered the best time to travel to Christchurch, summer is a time of sunshine but also very mild temperatures. The temperature rarely rises above 20°C and drops to cooler levels during the evening. This is due to Christchurch's location – it's on the same parallel as Hobart. Summer is the time to go if you're hoping to make trips to the beach and many parks. Appropriate clothing: Shirts and shorts for the day, but warmer clothing once the sun drops Don't forget: Sunscreen and hats – the temperature may be mild but UV is still a factor.


Known for long bouts of rainfall, winter in Christchurch is one of the region's wettest seasons. The temperature has now hit its lowest point with highs of around 7°C to 8°C. If visiting during winter, be ready to make the most of the cosy Christchurch cafes and galleries. Appropriate clothing: Waterproof clothing and plenty of layers to keep warm Don't forget: An umbrella.


The Christchurch temperature remains consistent until late autumn. It only begins to drop around mid-April before settling into colder temperatures by late May and June. Lower temperatures bring wetter weather, so while still reasonably sunny and mild during autumn, prepare for some rain showers and plan a few indoor activities. Appropriate clothing: Jeans or shorts on a good day, t-shirts or lightweight long-sleeved tops Don't forget: Your Metrocard and an umbrella, in case your plans change due to rain.


Spring is a time when the beautiful New Zealand green comes roaring back to life and the whole city is a riot of colour. Expect a spike in the rain levels before it backs off again by late September. From here, the strength of the sun returns and temperatures begin to climb up towards summer highs. As the mildest of all Christchurch seasons, this is a great time to get outdoors. Appropriate clothing: Shorts and t-shirts for milder days, but jeans and jackets may still be required Don't forget: Umbrella and sunglasses – it can get bright in spring.


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How to get around Christchurch

Getting around Christchurch is easy, in part due to its small size, but also thanks to the reliable Christchurch transport system. The Metro network of buses and trams run into and around the city centre. Alternatively, see the sites by foot or hire a bicycle. Christchurch is also a transport hub for excursions out of the city. Scenic train routes and short ferry journeys will take you swiftly onto new destinations within the Canterbury Region and beyond. However you decide to travel, you’re unlikely to be too far from where you’d like to be. This means valuable holiday time won’t need to be spent on commuting.

There are a number of taxi services around Christchurch ready to take you safely to your destination. Taking Christchurch taxis remains the most direct way to move around town, so either call a local taxi service or hail one if its light is showing it as available. Ride-sharing apps like Uber also operate in Christchurch.


Seeing a city by foot is sometimes difficult, but due to its small size, walking Christchurch is a very feasible travel option. Go at your own pace and get orientated with the city, while getting your holiday exercise quota done too. If you're visiting in spring, make the most of the city's beautiful weather and head out on foot. You never know what you'll find.


If you're planning to travel on Christchurch public transport then it's worthwhile getting a Metrocard. These can be bought from a number of convenience stores and even libraries. Your Metrocard will grant you access to every bus, tram and train in the city and multiple people can use one card on any given trip, you just need to tell the driver and they will charge for the correct number of people. It's also more affordable than buying single or return trip fares, as Metrocard users get a discounted rate.


Fancy getting around the city a little faster? Then searching out a Christchurch bike hire outlet is the way to go. There are many bike rental stores in the CBD that provide road, hybrid and mountain bikes for you to use while on holiday. As in Australia, it's mandatory to wear a bike helmet.


Let us help you organise your own wheels for exploring. Hire a car today.

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What are the best parks in Christchurch?

Soak up as much of the city’s relaxed atmosphere as possible by visiting one of the many Christchurch parks. Dotted around the city, these green areas are just a glimpse of the outdoor majesty that New Zealand is famed for. Travel a little further from the urban area and you’ll discover that this city by the bay is blessed with a bit of everything – mountains to the west, beaches to the east, and plenty of verdant green forests and reserves in between. Spending time exploring the natural beauty of the Canterbury Region is part of a Christchurch holiday that you can’t afford to neglect.

One of the most beautiful natural reserves in the city, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens are located in the gigantic Hagley Park, just 15 minutes from the city centre. While away a lazy afternoon on one of the garden's walking trails, or take a picnic and simply enjoy natural surrounds without leaving the city.


Enjoy a more rustic park walk with a trip to The Groynes on the city's north side. Leisurely walking trails provide waterfront views and the chance to leave the city behind for a few hours. The park also provides fishing, orienteering trails, and picnic areas. While there, keep an eye out for native New Zealand wildlife.


As its name suggests, Halswell Quarry Park was previously a quarry, but is now repurposed parkland that's full of walking trails and camping spots. This is one of Christchurch's favourite natural landmarks and it's located in the city's southwest. Halswell is the perfect retreat for anyone looking to escape the city to enjoy a bit of nature, and the wide open space makes it great for large gatherings and picnics.


A gorgeous turn-of-the 20th-century homestead surrounded by lush green grounds, Mona Vale is one of Christchurch's longest-standing tourist attractions. Have a bite to eat and stroll the gardens, taking in a snapshot of what city life in New Zealand was like at the end of the 1800s. This is a place to add to any self-guided walking tour of the city.


A huge park, and part of a larger network of parks including Bowenvale and Mount Vernon, Victoria Park is substantial. It offers just some of the scenery and nature you were craving to discover when booking your Christchurch holiday. Enjoy walking paths and hiking trails, discover native flora and fauna, explore historical sites, or have a go at downhill mountain biking.


Getting from park to park is so much better with your own wheels. Hitch your ride now!

Christchurch Frequently asked questions

First and foremost, your sense of fun, freedom and adventure, as Christchurch is a melting pot of incredible experiences. Once you’ve locked in your travel dates, be sure to pack clothing suitable for the season as Christchurch experiences four very distinct seasons. No matter what time of year you’re travelling, comfortable shoes are a must for exploring this incredible place on foot.


Nature lovers will love wandering around the city's many public gardens and parks, while the city centre offers an abundance of things to see and do, including the stunning Christchurch Cathedral or taking a punt ride along the Avon River. The local hospitality scene in Christchurch is thriving, offering visitors endless opportunities for sipping and snacking. Christchurch is also the ideal launch pad for South Island exploration, with the Banks Peninsula, the stunning Southern Alps and Canterbury Plains all within reach.


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If your ideal travel itinerary involves sun, sand and water, summer (December to February) is a dream. Autumn (March to May) and spring (September to November) are ideal for outdoor adventures such as hiking and biking, meanwhile, winter (June to August) is perfect for hitting the slopes and whale watching. It all depends on what your dream holiday in Christchurch looks like.


Eat, explore and eat some more. Christchurch is a dream for foodies as well as city-dwellers who are happy to wander at leisure popping into boutiques that catch their interest, admiring street art and spending days by the Avon River. Christchurch also serves as the ideal home base for exploring the rest of the South Island, whether your ideal holiday activity is mountain biking through scenic terrain, sinking into hot springs or sipping your way through the Waipara Valley wine region.


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The current requirements for travelling to Christchurch

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