Christchurch, New Zealand — travel guide & visitor info

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Christchurch (Cathedral, reStart Containers, Trolley)
Christchurch (Cathedral, reStart Containers, Trolley)

Christchurch – The Garden City

Wide open spaces, floral and architectural beauty coupled with a range of activities to suit all tastes make a visit to Christchurch a special experience.

It might be New Zealand’s oldest city and the South Island’s capital, but Christchurch is unique for its open spaces. Its 650 parks account for 11 percent of the city’s land – a refreshing change from the increasingly cluttered nature of many major centres.

Commonly known as the Garden City or a slice of England in the Antipodes, a punt ride down the Avon River is the perfect way to see where these labels came from and why Christchurch has a character all of its own.

As the punt meanders through the city under Weeping Willow trees and beside some of Christchurch’s most picturesque floral masterpieces, it’s hard to believe the river is in the middle of a modern city. Add to that the view from the punt of the many charming old buildings that offer a reminder of the city’s English pioneers, and it becomes even more remarkable.

This English influence is further highlighted with a visit to the Arts Centre (The Arts), a few minutes walk from the river’s edge. The old Canterbury University campus, it is the hub of Christchurch’s arts and crafts, featuring galleries, studios, theatres, cinemas, restaurants and bars. It is also the site of New Zealand’s oldest lecture theatre.

This historic theme is continued over the road at the Canterbury Museum, renowned for having some of the finest cultural and natural collections in New Zealand.

Although these attractions and others are all within walking distance, another way to get around the inner city is onboard a beautifully restored heritage tram (Christchurch Tramway). Reintroduced in 1995 after a 40 year absence, the trams stops outside the Arts Centre and many other interesting sites.

While a visit to these attractions leaves no doubt as to why Christchurch is likened to an English city, without the crowds or lack of space, a visit to the Museum’s neighbour, the Botanic Gardens (Christchurch Botanic Gardens), reinforces the Garden City label.

The Gardens are home to New Zealand’s finest collection of exotic and indigenous plants, and are one of the reasons Christchurch was voted the top Garden City in the world at the Nations in Bloom competition of 1997.

As well as these central city attractions, Christchurch offers a wide variety of others that are located minutes from the CBD.
Out by the International Airport is the International Antarctic Centre (Christchurch Antarctic Centre)- a must to visit. The centre is home to the United States, Italian and New Zealand Antarctic programmes and offers an interactive experience for all age-groups.

While these attractions and many others are unique to the South Island Capital and come together to form its special character, a ride up the 955 metre Christchurch Gondola (Christchurch Gondola) offers another perspective on the city and how it blends into the wider region. As the Gondola makes its way to the summit complex, it offers 360 degree views of Christchurch, Lyttelton Harbour and the wider Canterbury Plains.

Walking tracks from the summit complex, mimicking those used by the early pioneers on route from Lyttelton Harbour to Christchurch, are popular with visitors.

It seems that even modern attractions provide a reminder of the city’s English past.

Sightseeing

Check out our article: Christchurch — Sightseeing & Tips

 

Weather

Canterbury has warm summers and cool to cold winters. Maximum temperatures in summer are typically in the 27C – 33C range. The highest temperature ever recorded in Christchurch was 42 C. In winter the temperatures can range from 2C -12C.

Christchurch Average Temperatures:

Precipitation in mm: 648 mm (25.5 inch)
wet days: 85
Sunshine hrs: 2100
Avg Temp: 12.1 C (53.8 F)
Highs: 41.6 C (106.8 F)
Lows: -7.1 C (19.2 F)
Ground frost days: 70
Avg wind speeds: 15 km/h (9.3 mph)
Days with wind speed > 63 km/h (39 mph): 3

[Source: NIWA (National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research) / Website: www.niwa.co.nz]

METSERVICE Weather Forecast: www.metservice.co.nz/public/localWeather/christchurch.html

Getting around & Visitor Info

Population

Christchurch is the South Island’s largest city, with a population of 348,435 people, and one of New Zealand’s two major international airports. Christchurch is the hub of the Canterbury region – at 4.22 million hectares, the largest region in New Zealand.

Airport

Christchurch International Airport
Find out more details by visiting the official website, see WebLink further below.

Public Transport / Getting around

If you’re planning to stay in Christchurch, you can get around by Tram, tour bus, taxi, or Christchurch’s excellent public transportation system. But to really experience Canterbury regions, you should consider renting a car, motorhome or booking on one of the many tours available.

Driving Times

Dunedin: ca. 5 hrs
These estimated times allow for a leisurly ride and some stops but are not menat to be sightseeing trips.

Christchurch I-SITE VISITOR CENTRE

15 – 31 Cathedral Square
Open 7 days from 8.30am (Closed Christmas Day only)
As a member of New Zealand’s official Visitor Information Network, the Christchurch i-SITE provides a comprehensive free booking service for a wide variety of accommodation, attractions, transport and activities throughout New Zealand.
Rail, ferries, rental cars, coach, shuttles and travel passes

 

Map

 

Christchurch view from above…

Peaks of the Banks Peninsula to the southeast of Christchurch. Photo taken from the International Space Station.
Peaks of the Banks Peninsula to the southeast of Christchurch. Photo taken from the International Space Station.

This oblique view of the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, provides a sense of perspective and accents topography, in contrast to nadir (directly downwards) views.

Snow highlights the peaks of the Banks Peninsula to the southeast of the city. The peninsula has a radically different landscape compared to the adjoining, flat Canterbury Plains, where Christchurch (gray patch to the north) is located. The Banks Peninsula is formed from the overlapping cones of the extinct Lyttelton and Akaroa volcanoes. Subsequent erosion of the cones formed the heavily dissected terrain visible in the image, and sea level rise led to the creation of several harbors around the Peninsula. Erosion continues unabated today, as evidenced by the apron of greenish blue, sediment-laden waters surrounding the Banks Peninsula.

Other interesting features in the image include the braided Waimakariri River to the north-northwest of the city, and the greenish brown waters of Lake Ellesmere at image left. The coloration of the water is due both to its shallow depth (1.4 meters on average, or about 4.5 feet) and its high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus, which fertilizes the growth of large amounts of green algae.

During its tenure aboard the International Space Station (ISS), Expedition 13 passed a major milestone: as of late August 2006, more than one quarter of a million images of Earth had been taken from the ISS. The rate at which Expedition 13 photographed the Earth was record-setting, as the crew passed the 200,000 image mark less than two months before. The 250,000th image is this oblique view of the city of Christchurch, New Zealand.
[source: NASA]