Christchurch Travel Guide
“It more than lived up to expectations and will be remembered for many years to come! Ian on South Island and Cam on North Island were both delightful and excellent guides.” – Anne McSweeney (UK)
Located on the east coast of the South Island, Christchurch – just like the rest of New Zealand – is a city of contrasts. It is a place where its residents continue to enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle amidst a natural environment world-renowned for its beauty. A growing cosmopolitan ambience also adds a touch of excitement without overt flashiness.
Everywhere there is an understated elegance that speaks of times gone by and promises a future where anything is possible.
The Garden City
Internationally famed ‘The Garden City’, Christchurch’s well-established expansive parks and public gardens owe much to the planning and foresight of the city’s founding fathers.
The centrally-located 161 hectare Hagley Park, the Botanic Gardens, the four leafy inner-city avenues, Victoria Square and spectacular gardens such as Mona Vale on the banks of the River Avon bear testimony to this legacy. It is a vision which is embraced and perpetuated today by proud residents right throughout the city.
The Floral Festival held in February each year is certainly one of the most popular festivals on the annual calendar…a time when the city is a blaze of colour.
In 1996, Christchurch was acknowledged as the outstanding garden city from 620 international entries and in 1997, was judged Overall Winner of Major Cities in the Nations in Bloom International Competition to become ‘Garden City of the World’!
Christchurch Quick Facts
- Location: South Island, New Zealand
- Population: 350,000
- Known Locally For: Its Englishness, Punting on the Avon, Historic Tram Trips, Parks, Golf, Wineries, Restaurants , Events and Festivals.
- Also Known As: The Garden City.
- Climate: Christchurch has warm summers and cool to cold winters. Maximum temperatures in summer are typically in the 27-33 C range. In winter the temperatures can range from 2-12 C. Visit our weather information page for more information.
Christchurch Short Break Holidays & Sightseeing Day Tours
Christchurch is the gateway to the Canterbury region and the spectacular experiences within the South Island. City breaks, whale watching, train journeys, LOTR sightseeing tours, Kaikoura wilderness walks & trips to the Southern Alps & Mt Cook, your options are as varied as the scenery.
Discover the city of Christchurch or the Frnech settlement of Akoroa on one of our sightseeing days tours, or perhaps venture north on a whale watching cruise in Kaikorua. The Canterbury region was also home to many scenes in the LOTR films, or perhaps jet boating & 4WD drive tours in the Alps are more your thing?
Maori oral history suggests that people first inhabited the Canterbury area about a thousand years ago. These first inhabitants were moa-hunting tribes and these were followed by the Waitaha who are thought to have migrated from the east coast of the North Island in the 16th century. This migration was joined by the Ngati Mamoe and Ngai Tahu and continued until about 1830.
The first European landed in Canterbury in 1815, 45 years after Captain James Cook sighted what he named “Banks Island”, later found to be a peninsula. In 1840 the first Europeans settled on the plains and whaling ships were operating out of Lyttelton by 1850. During 1850-1851 the first organised groups of English settlers, the founders of Christchurch, arrived on the ‘first four ships’ into Lyttelton Harbour. Christchurch became a city by Royal Charter on July 31, 1856, making it officially the oldest established city in New Zealand.
Events & Festivals
Christchurch is New Zealand’s foremost festival city. Throughout the year it proudly celebrates over a dozen festivals which provide a wealth of cultural and entertainment diversity. Festivals with themes of music, the arts, adventure, books, heritage, buskers, balloons, floral displays and local produce all provide a focus for the city’s celebrations, whether planned or spontaneous.
Spring brings New Zealand Cup and Show Week featuring national racing events and the region’s traditional agricultural and pastoral show. Summer heralds the SummerTimesfestival, with a host of free outdoor events, including the hugely popular Classical Sparks. Late summer and early autumn are the time to celebrate romance, food and drink.
Christchurch Central City
Christchurch’s central city is always different: every day in every way. Take advantage of the unique and diverse retail outlets, experience the multitude of must-see visitor attractions such as the Botanic Gardens, The Arts Centre and Art Gallery. Visit Cathedral Square where you will find, Chalice, artwork by internationally renowned sculptor Neil Dawson. Known as the Garden City, Christchurch has many parks available for you to enjoy. Appreciate and recognise Christchurch’s cultural heritage, take a walk from the Square down Worcester Boulevard where you will find many attractions that make up the Cultural Precinct.
Enjoy the vibrant hospitality and entertainment, take comfort in the garden city’s urban living scene. Whether you want to live, work, play, dine or be entertained – enjoy the experience that is Christchurch central city.
Christchurch and Canterbury are famous for natural beauty and a wealth of things to do. Christchurch has a lively entertainment scene, strong cultural heritage, gorgeous parks and gardens, lots of sports facilities and good shopping. Among the ‘must sees’ are the weekend Arts Centre market, Christchurch Cathedral, Botanic Gardens and International Antarctic Centre. We have several day tours that will take you out and about around Christchurch.
The Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu exhibit’s New Zealand and international art and Canterbury Museum has fine cultural and natural collections as well as creative and imaginative displays.
Orana Park is New Zealand’s largest wildlife reserve and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve has among its displays New Zealand’s largest daytime kiwi viewing area. Air Force World captures the adventure and history of flight in New Zealand and Christchurch Casino offers 24-hour gaming entertainment. Visitors can be introduced to Maori culture at Nga Hau E Wha Marae.