Christchurch, New Zealand has had it’s share of troubles in the past few years. The last time we were here was 2011 after Two large earthquakes and thousands of aftershocks resulted in much of the city having to be demolished. At the time we were not able to access the city. This time, we found that the residents of Christchurch were some of the Most welcoming people we have met during our time in New Zealand and although parts of the city were blocked off at the time of our visit (July 2014), we still had a jam-packed 3 days in the city.
Even after these huge events there are still plenty of things to do in Christchurch, and these are below, in no particular preference…
This is my top 5 things to do in Christchurch
Take a Tram Ride
The ticket shop for the tram was located only a few minutes around the corner from the Novotel Christchurch at which we were staying. 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 lines were damaged in the earthquakes but this line from New Regents Street and the Botanical Gardens still runs.
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. On our trip, 2 wizards dressed in Lord of the Rings style garb actually boarded the tram with staffs aloft – something you won’t see every day.
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.
Go Punting on the Avon
We noticed a few signs along the river for Punting. Now, I never punted in my life so I didn’t know what I was in for but it was to be a memorable experience. On a chilly July afternoon, the temperature was about 8C we got to the offices for ‘Punting on the Avon’ and we were welcomed by a chap in 1920s style clothing, we paid and were welcomed on board and given a blanket and 2 hot water bottles which was a really nice touch.
The 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. 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 shopping malls were either demolished or are currently unusable. Retail outlets have used an ingenious method for getting back on their feet. Using steel shipping containers, 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. Also, check out the Hummingbird Café for great coffee and food.
Eat at Cafe Valentino
After the walking, shopping 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 is one of the places which, before I went, I wasn’t sure what to expect and also I wasn’t sure I would enjoy. To me it was just the place we were flying into. But, having been there, having seen the city, having met the people … I flew in so that I would fly back again soon.
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.