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Christchurch

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Travel Guide Oceania Polynesia New Zealand South Island Canterbury Region Christchurch

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Introduction

Christchurch Cathedral

Christchurch Cathedral

© All Rights Reserved j140870

Christchurch is the largest city on the South Island and second largest city by urban area in New Zealand. Although some argue it is the only real city on the entire South Island. Originally settled by Maori tribes around 1250 AD this area of the South Island has always had some sort of occupation since then. The Weller brothers, whalers, purchased the area and set up a base in what is now Christchurch in the early 1840s. The Weller brothers later abandoned the area.

In December of 1850 the historic First Four Ships, which were chartered by the Canterbury Association, arrived. The city quickly grew and was the first city in New Zealand by royal charter on the 31st of July 1856. Because of this the city is home to many Gothic buildings and the site of many historic events in New Zealand, such as New Zealands first railroad. Christchurch has also been the gateway to the Arctic for early explorers and modern day scientists. Today this city has become a major metropolitan centre and the heart of the South Island. There are countless sights to visit and places to see in Christchurch.

Christchurch has been severely damaged by two earthquakes, striking in September 2010 and February 2011, the latter causing many deaths as well as the collapse of part of the main cathedral. The clean up and rebuild is an ongoing project set to last years. A "red zone" covers a varying part of the city centre and is off limits to the public whilst it is slowly taken apart and put back together again.

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Sights and Activities

Museums

  • Canterbury Museum is a beautiful gothic museum with a great collection and exhibits ranging from Maori relics, Antarctic exhibitions to even dinosaurs. The museum is open everyday, except Christmas Day, 9:00am to 5:30pm (October to March) and 9:00am to 5:00pm (April to September). Admission is free.
  • Ferrymead Heritage Park was founded in the 1960s as a tribute to industrial history. Learn more about industry in the 19th century and see how people lived back in those times. The park is at the site of the first railroad in New Zealand and you can ride a real steam locomotive on certain days. The park is open 10:00am to 4:30pm every day except Christmas Day. The park is located at 50 Ferrymead Park Drive, Heathcote about a 15-minute drive from Christchurch city centre or take bus number 35 from the city. Monday to Friday Adult $6, children $3, children under 5 Free, weekends, public Holidays and school Holidays, when trams or trains are operating, Adults $15, children $5.
  • Air Force Museum is dedicated to New Zealand's aviation history. The museum is located about 15 minutes from the city centre with free parking. It is also possible to take the #5 or #81 bus to the museum. The museum is open daily from 10:00am to 5:00pm, except Christmas Day. Adults $15, children $5, students and senior itizens $9.
  • Christchurch Art Gallery is the new art museum opened in 2003 with a good collection. The museum is located at the intersection of Worcester Blvd and Montreal Street. Open everyday 10:00am to 5:00pm, and on Wednesday 10:00am to 9:00pm, closed Christmas Day.
  • Christchurch Arts Centre has a collection of over 40 specialty shops, fine art galleries, world class theatre groups, art house cinemas, bars, restaurants and cafes. There are also many special events going on at different times. Every weekend there is a market featuring local entertainers and artists selling their goods.

Wildlife and Animals

Pegasus Bay

Pegasus Bay

© All Rights Reserved Honolulu

  • Orana Wildlife Park - Spend the day seeing wild animals in a more natural habitat then a zoo at this wildlife park outside the city.
  • Willowbank Wildlife Reserve - Experience the natural side of South island at this wonderful reserve. Adults $25, children $10, seniors and students with ID $20.
  • Southern Encounters Aquarium & Kiwi House is a great aquarium in Christchurch. Open every day of the year, except Christmas Day, 9:00am to 4:30pm. Adults $15, children $5, student with ID and seniors $13.
  • Antarctic Centre is located near the airport and allows visitors to experience a simulated Antarctica.

Other Sights and Activities

  • Christchurch Cathedral - Visit this stunning church and climb the spire to see great views of Christchurch. The church is located in Cathedral Square.
  • Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament was opened in 1905 and is now one of the finest Renaissance style Catholic Churches in all of New Zealand and Oceania.
  • Heathcote Gondola - Ride this gondola to get great views of places like Pegasus Bay.
  • Summit Road - Drive this road in order to see some amazing views.
  • Mountain Biking - Cycle some amazing trails in and around Christchurch. Especially in the Port Hills or Bottle Lake Forest. Hagley Park is also a nice place to cycle around.
  • Victoria Park - Go for a nice hike in this wonderful green space.
  • Punting on the Avon - Go on nice boat ride down the Avon River. Adults $20, children $10.
  • Christchurch Casino - Place some bets and try to make it big at this casino located at 30 Victoria Street.
  • Christ's College Guided Tours - These interesting tours are run by former pupils on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in Spring and Summer and cost $5 each.

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Weather

Christchurch has a temperate climate with relatively dry conditions. Summers are from December to March with average highs mostly between 20 °C and 23 °C and lows of around 11 °C or 12 °C. Winters are from June to August with days around 12 °C and nights just above freezing on average. Average annual precipitation is around 650mm with winters being somewhat wetter compared to the drier summer months. Snow is rare but possible in winter.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max22.3 °C21.8 °C20.1 °C17.4 °C14 °C11.3 °C10.7 °C12.1 °C14.5 °C17.1 °C19.1 °C21 °C
Avg Min12.1 °C11.6 °C10.3 °C6.9 °C3.7 °C1 °C0.8 °C2.1 °C4.3 °C6.5 °C8.6 °C10.8 °C
Rainfall46.4 mm41.7 mm57.5 mm53.3 mm57.6 mm50.5 mm68.3 mm59.5 mm41 mm44.4 mm49.9 mm45.1 mm

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Getting There

By Plane

Christchurch International Airport (CHC) is 12 kilometres northwest of the city centre and was originally opened in 1953. The airport has connections to all cities in New Zealand, most major cities in Oceania and a few other international destinations. Air New Zealand and Air Chathams operate most of the domestic flights. While international flights, even some as far away as Bangkok, Dubai or Seoul, are operated by Fiji Airways, Emirates, Jetstar, Korean Air, Virgin Australia, Qantas and Singapore Airlines.

To/from the airport

  • Bus: three bus routes service the airport. Number 3 to Sumner via the city, Avonhead and Riccarton, number 10 via Merivale and number 29 via Fendalton. All buses arrive and depart from international coach park, at the end of the International Arrivals Hall.
  • Taxis and rental cars are widely available.

By Train

The TranzCoastal is a daily passenger service between Picton and Christchurch, stopping en route in 6 other places, including Blenheim and Kaikoura.
One of the most scenic routes in the world is the Tranz Alpine between Christchurch and Greymouth on the South Island. It is operated by Tranz Scenic.

By Bus

Intercity Coach Lines and Newmans Coach Lines provides services throughout the South Island. There are daily bus services north to and from Picton, south to and from Dunedin and west to and from Queenstown and the West Coast (Greymouth, Hokitika), and Mount Cook.

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Getting Around

Historic Tram in Christchurch

Historic Tram in Christchurch

© All Rights Reserved Honolulu

By Car

Some of the options to rent cars include the following companies:

By Public Transport

  • The Bus is the main form of public transport in Christchurch. There are three different companies and they are jointly called the Metro. Tourists can use the buses to get anywhere in the city.
  • Christchurch Tramway is a limited service one way above ground tram mainly for tourists travelling in the city centre. As a lot of the city centre is still cordoned off the tram isn't currently running.
  • The Diamond Harbour Ferry connects the suburb of Lyttelton to Diamond Harbour.

By Foot

The city centre is small enough to navigate on foot.

By Bike

Christchurch is mostly flat, so many people get around on bicycles. Special-purpose bicycle lanes have been recently added to many streets to help promote cycling.

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Sleep

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Abbey Motor Lodge209 Bealey Avenue, CityGuesthouse-
YMCA Christchurch12 Hereford Street Christchurch 8011 P O Box 2004 Christchurch 8140Hostel79
Aloha Motel Christchurch68 Main South RoadHotel-
Chester Street Backpackers148 Chester St East, ChristchurchHostel78
Dorset House Backpackers1 Dorset Street PO Box 25350Hostel84
Foley Towers208 Kilmore StreetHostel-
Jailhouse Accommodation338 Lincoln Rd, Addington ChristchurchHostel86
Kiwi Basecamp69 Bealey Ave ChristchurchHostel76
Kiwi House373 Gloucester StreetHostel83
Point Break Backpackers6 Union Street New BrightonHOSTEL75
The Old Countryhouse437 Gloucester StreetHostel85
Tranquil Lodge440 Manchester St St AlbansHostel73
Around The World Backpackers314 Barbadoes StreetHostel82
Bealey Avenue Motel229 Bealey AvenueApartment82
Christchurch City Park Motel22 Riccarton Road RiccartonHotel-
Canterbury House Christchurch257 Bealey Avenue, ChristchurchHostel83
Avalon Motels301 Bealy Ave ChristchurchHotel84
Avon City Backpackers563 Worchester StreetHostel-
Courtesy Court Motel33 Sherborne Street St AlbansHotel-
Central Park Motor Lodge15 Riccarton Road RiccartonHotel-
Haka Lodge518 Linwood AveHostel87
Racecourse Backpackers Hostel130 Racecourse Road (Btw Racecourse Rd & Epsom Rd) Upper RiccartonHostel-
Backpackers @ Uni Hall9 Maidstone Road IlamHOSTEL-
Sudima Hotel Christchurch AirportCnr Memorial Ave & Orchard Rod PO BOX 14 043Hotel-
YHA Rolleston House5 Worcester BoulevardHOSTEL83
Lavender Towers11 Kedleston DriveAvonheadChristchurchGUESTHOUSE-
M&Y Airport Guest House360 Yaldhurst RoadGUESTHOUSE-
Purple-der House Accommodation148 Palmers Road N. BrightonGUESTHOUSE83
The Marque Hotel166 Gloucester StreetHotel-
At The Right Place85-87 Bealey Ave ChristchurchHOSTEL-
Backpackers @ SonodaDovedale Avenue IlamHOSTEL-
Crash Landing336 Lincoln Road Unit 25GUESTHOUSE-
Onuku Bed and Breakfast27 Harry Ell DriveGUESTHOUSE-

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafés are widely available throughout New Zealand at rates of around NZ$2-4, though sometimes more in smaller places. Besides internet and e-mail services, most big internet cafés also offer some way for travellers to connect their digital camera and burn cds. Many public libraries have public Internet access, and most of them offer short free internet sessions. Wi-Fi access is getting more and more common in for example coffee places or fast food chains. It is becoming more common for Wi-Fi to be provided at hotels and motels, though sometimes at a fee. Wireless Hotspots are located in many cities and towns all over New Zealand from dedicated Wireless providers from whom you can buy connect time. Many camping holiday parks also have such services available.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Dial 111 for emergency police, fire or ambulance services. The worldwide emergency number for GSM mobile phones, 112, can also be used.
The country code is 64.

Most payphones in New Zealand require the use of phone cards for payment and it is getting harder to find payphones that accept coins. As phone cards are available at a lot of outlets, they are easy to purchase and very handy as a backup in case of emergencies. Many of them also accept creditcards. Local calls are free from residential phones and charges for calling outside that area can be found at the front of the regional phone books, amongst many other services.

Mobile telephone coverage is effectively national in near urban areas although the mountainous terrain means that outside the urban areas, and especially away from the main highway system, coverage does have huge dead patches. Do not rely on mobile phones in hilly or mountainous terrain. Mobile telephone users can call 555 only to report Non-emergency traffic safety incidents, such as a breakdown, road hazard or non-injury car crash, to the Police. There are currently three major mobile carriers in New Zealand.

  • Telecom operates a UMTS (3G) network, named XT Network, nationwide on 850MHz with supplementary 2100MHz in metropolitan areas. (the same frequencies as Telstra in Australia and AT&T in the U.S.)
  • Vodafone operates a GSM network on 900MHz/2100 MHz and a UTMS (3G) network operates nationwide 900MHz with supplementary 2100MHz coverage.
  • 2degrees operates a UMTS (3G) network (2100MHz) in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, with supplementary GSM coverage provided elsewhere by Vodafone.

A prepaid sim-card connection pack with $10 credit from Telecom or Vodafone costs around $30, and prepaid sim-cards from 2degrees cost $10. Telecom has broader coverage in remote areas away from major cities compared to Vodafone and 2degrees.

Post

Most areas have dedicated PostShops, however stamps can also be bought at grocery shops, supermarkets and book stores. There are two main formats for domestic mail, namely Standard Post and Fast Post. Fast Post is used next day delivery between major towns and cities (two days from rural areas), whereas Standard Post will take a few working days to deliver nationwide. Standard costs NZ$0.50 for letters/postcards (NZ$0.80 for larger envelopes), Fast Post costs NZ$0.80 (NZ$1.20 for larger envelopes). International mail takes about 3-6 days to Australia (NZ$1.50), and 6-12 days to Europe, Asia and the United States (NZ$2). Post boxes are white, red and black and can be found in many areas throughout towns and cities, including information about when their contents are collected. Most post offices and smaller post shops have opening hours from 9:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday, and 9:00am to 12:30pm on Saturday. You can buy stamps here, or at newsagents and general stores. For parcels, you can use the NZ Post or otherwise courier companies like TNT, DHL, UPS or FedEx.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: -43.531637
  • Longitude: 172.636645

Contributors

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Christchurch Travel Helpers

  • fcAnnie

    Christchurch - which is also known as the city of Gardens is among one of the most beautiful place on the earth. I have been there many times and I read a lot about this metropolis as its my dreamland city. I have been so much involved in the activities, blogs, travel guides and many more things about Christchurch - now I feel like I am the localize of this city.

    Ask fcAnnie a question about Christchurch

This is version 48. Last edited at 1:44 on Nov 6, 14 by VATeam. 45 articles link to this page.

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