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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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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.
|Avg Max||22.3 °C||21.8 °C||20.1 °C||17.4 °C||14 °C||11.3 °C||10.7 °C||12.1 °C||14.5 °C||17.1 °C||19.1 °C||21 °C|
|Avg Min||12.1 °C||11.6 °C||10.3 °C||6.9 °C||3.7 °C||1 °C||0.8 °C||2.1 °C||4.3 °C||6.5 °C||8.6 °C||10.8 °C|
|Rainfall||46.4 mm||41.7 mm||57.5 mm||53.3 mm||57.6 mm||50.5 mm||68.3 mm||59.5 mm||41 mm||44.4 mm||49.9 mm||45.1 mm|
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
The Coastal Pacific runs from October through April between Christchurch and Picton, where it connects with the Cook Strait ferries from Wellington in the North Island. The train departs Christchurch at 07:00 and arrives in Picton at 12:13, connecting with the 14:00 ferry to Wellington. The 09:00 ferry from Wellington connects with the train departing Picton at 13:00 and arriving in Christchurch at 18:21.
The TranzAlpine can take you coast-to-coast between Christchurch and Greymouth, a town on the West Coast. This scenic train journey can be done as a day trip. The train departs from Christchurch daily at 08:15, arriving at Greymouth at 12:45, then leaves Greymouth at 13:45, getting back to Christchurch at 18:05. During the trip you’ll see the fields of the Canterbury Plains, followed by spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. The train then climbs into the Southern Alps before descending through lush beech rain forest to Greymouth.
The Christchurch railway station is on Troup Drive in Addington, adjacent to the large Tower Junction shopping centre, and has limited facilities. Canterbury Shuttles provides a free transfer from all central city accommodation to the station. Pick-ups for the Coastal Pacific are 06:00-06:30. Pickups for the TranzAlpine are 07:00-7:45.
State Highway 1 is the main highway into Christchurch from the north and south, and skirts around the city to the west, close to the airport. The stretch north from Picton to Christchurch is particularly scenic, including stunning windswept cliffs and seal colonies. State Highway 73 goes to the west, over Arthur's Pass and on to the west coast. From SH73 you can also access Mount Hutt and other regional ski fields.
Typical distances and non-stop travel times to Christchurch:
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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Christchurch is mostly flat with a grid-pattern layout, so navigation by road is generally simple. The central city is contained by the "four avenues" - Bealey Ave in the north, Fitzgerald Ave in the east, Deans Ave in the west, and Moorhouse Avenue in the south. Watch out for one-way streets and bus-and-taxi-only intersections in the central city.
Some of the options to rent cars include the following companies:
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. The core bus network has four cross-city routes and a circular route through the inner suburbs. Buses on these routes run every 15 minutes during the day, seven days a week. The four cross-city routes converge at Central Station.
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.
The city centre is small enough to navigate on foot.
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.
Fish'n'chips are the cheapest meal out. Halswell Fish and Chips offer the best fish and chips in town.
The Asian district is mainly in the Riccarton/Upper Riccarton area. Church Corner is often considered the unofficial 'Chinatown'. It has Chinese supermarkets, all kinds of Asian restaurants and more. There are many Korean restaurants there, and in the shopping precinct near Westfield Riccarton. KOSCO, a Korean supermarket, has several branches in Christchurch, including one in Riccarton.
|Abbey Motor Lodge||209 Bealey Avenue, City||Guesthouse||-|
|YMCA Christchurch||12 Hereford Street Christchurch 8011 P O Box 2004 Christchurch 8140||Hostel||78|
|Aloha Motel Christchurch||68 Main South Road||Hotel||-|
|Chester Street Backpackers||148 Chester St East, Christchurch||Hostel||78|
|Dorset House Backpackers||1 Dorset Street PO Box 25350||Hostel||83|
|Foley Towers||208 Kilmore Street||Hostel||-|
|Jailhouse Accommodation||338 Lincoln Rd, Addington Christchurch||Hostel||86|
|Kiwi Basecamp||69 Bealey Ave Christchurch||Hostel||-|
|Kiwi House||373 Gloucester Street||Hostel||80|
|Point Break Backpackers||6 Union Street New Brighton||HOSTEL||74|
|The Old Countryhouse||437 Gloucester Street||Hostel||83|
|Tranquil Lodge||440 Manchester St St Albans||Hostel||80|
|Around The World Backpackers||314 Barbadoes Street||Hostel||82|
|Bealey Avenue Motel||229 Bealey Avenue||Apartment||83|
|Christchurch City Park Motel||22 Riccarton Road Riccarton||Hotel||-|
|Canterbury House Christchurch||257 Bealey Avenue, Christchurch||Hostel||83|
|Avalon Motels||301 Bealy Ave Christchurch||Hotel||80|
|Avon City Backpackers||563 Worchester Street||Hostel||80|
|Courtesy Court Motel||33 Sherborne Street St Albans||Hotel||-|
|Central Park Motor Lodge||15 Riccarton Road Riccarton||Hotel||-|
|Haka Lodge||518 Linwood Ave||Hostel||83|
|Racecourse Backpackers Hostel||130 Racecourse Road (Btw Racecourse Rd & Epsom Rd) Upper Riccarton||Hostel||-|
|Backpackers @ Uni Hall||9 Maidstone Road Ilam||HOSTEL||-|
|Sudima Hotel Christchurch Airport||Cnr Memorial Ave & Orchard Rod PO BOX 14 043||Hotel||-|
|YHA Rolleston House||5 Worcester Boulevard||HOSTEL||81|
|Lavender Towers||11 Kedleston DriveAvonheadChristchurch||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|M&Y Airport Guest House||360 Yaldhurst Road||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Purple-der House Accommodation||148 Palmers Road N. Brighton||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|The Marque Hotel||166 Gloucester Street||Hotel||-|
|At The Right Place||85-87 Bealey Ave Christchurch||HOSTEL||-|
|Backpackers @ Sonoda||Dovedale Avenue Ilam||HOSTEL||-|
|Crash Landing||336 Lincoln Road Unit 25||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Onuku Bed and Breakfast||27 Harry Ell Drive||GUESTHOUSE||-|
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.
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.
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.
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.
We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Christchurch searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Christchurch and areas nearby.
Ask fcAnnie a question about Christchurch
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.
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