My Top 5 things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand
Christchurch, New Zealand has had it’s share of troubles in the past few years and I visited here in 2011 and 2014. In 2011 we were not able to access the city due to the damage. In 2014 we were able to access the city centre and we found that the residents of Christchurch were Most welcoming. Although certain parts of the city were restricted during our visit, we still had a busy three days here. You should find a lot more than 5 things to do in Christchurch and we would have loved to extend our three days visit.
Even after these huge events there are still plenty of things to do in Christchurch, and these are my Top 5 Things to do in Christchurch, in no particular preference…
Take a Tram Ride
The ticket shop for the Christchurch tram was located only a few minutes around the corner from where we stayed, at the Novotel Christchurch. The Tram actually drives through the shopping mall where the tickets are sold, which is an ingenious feat of engineering when you see it. Much of the tram infrastructure was damaged in the earthquakes but this line from New Regents Street to the Botanical Gardens.
There is excellent commentary on board and you certainly learn a lot about Christchurch and it’s history. The ticket is hop on, hop off and is great value for the day – this should certainly be one of your 5 things to do in Christchurch.
See the Botanical Gardens
At the end of the Tram trip we arrived at the botanical gardens. The gardens are located on the River Avon and welcome over 1 million visitors per year. There are many walking trails and you could easily spend a few hours here. One of the highlights is the Native New Zealand gardens with stunning ferns and native plants. Also, don’t forget to take a trip to the Visitors Centre which was opened in April 2014 and encompasses a cafe with delicious food and botanically themed gift shop which has lots of very nice gifts to bring home. The visitors centre is also a hub for the operational side of the Gardens, with a working nursery, potting shed, herbarium and reference library. If you enjoy plants, nature or just seeing something different then the Christchurch Botanical Gardens should be one of your 5 things to do in Christchurch.
Go Punting on the Avon
Of all the items on my ‘5 things to do in Christchurch’ list, this was one of the most relaxing. We noticed a few signs along the river for Punting. Now, I never punted in my life, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It turned out to be a relaxing and a memorable experience. On a chilly July afternoon (it’s New Zealand’s winter), the temperature was about 8C. We arrived at the offices for ‘Punting on the Avon’ and we were welcomed by a gent in 1920s style clothing. Having paid a small fee, which I felt was great value, we were welcomed on-board and we were supplied with a nice warm blanket and 2 hot water bottles, which was a really nice touch.
The punting trip was about an hour from the time we arrived and we got to see the River Avon at a very relaxed pace, while listening to some local history along the way. This was one of the highlights of the trip to Christchurch, as well as being the most relaxing.
Visit the ReStart Mall
One of the terrible outcomes of the earthquakes were that many of the buildings in Christchurch were damaged or demolished. These included shopping malls which were unsafe or unusable. Therefore retail outlets used an ingenious method for getting back info business. Using huge steel shipping containers, shops and outlets have been able to re-open with great effect.
Not only is the ReStart mall a colourful and enjoyable place to shop but the stores which are there give great value. We did some of the best shopping in the ReStart mall. You can find great value in shoes, clothes, and souvenirs. The shops here are also different ; not the usual stock you see elsehwere. Also, check out the Hummingbird Café for great coffee and food. The breakfast is very good!
Eat at Cafe Valentino
After the walking, shopping, exploring and punting you will be hungry. If you are looking for good food in Christchurch, you have to eat at Cafe Valentino. Great food, extensive menu and great staff. The mussels were on special on one of the evenings and on the other it was a chicken dish.
Christchurch in conclusion
Christchurch, New Zealand is one of the places which, before I went, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Furthermore, I wasn’t sure I would enjoy it due to the sad events of the earthquakes. To me it was just the place we were flying into. But, having been there, having seen the city, having met the friendliest of people… I look forward to returning.
It is a great place to visit and I wish I had more time to spend there and with the great people of Christchurch!
POI Map for Christchurch, New Zealand
The map below shows the above 5 locations which may help with your trip to Christchurch.