Known as “The Garden City”, Christchurch, New Zealand boasts beautifully-sculpted parks and gardens reminiscent of Victorian England. Christchurch has a lively student population, is multi-cultural, and a popular backpacker destination. It even has its own wizard. Though severely damaged during the 2011 earthquake, the city is slowly being rebuilt. Many attractions have since closed. However, the city is surviving and moving forward.
Hostel prices – Hostel dorms in the city cost between around 25-35 NZD per night, while private rooms begin at 50 NZD for a single, and 65 NZD for a double.
Budget hotel prices – You can expect to pay 60-120 NZD per night for a double room. Prices will range according to the season.
Average cost of food – A typical restaurant meal with cost you about 18 NZD or more. If you choose to cook your food, plan to spend about 75-90 NZD per week. You can find sandwiches around the city about for 8 NZD, and fast food like McDonald’s or Burger King costs between 9-12 NZD.
Transportation costs – The historic tram is up and running again after being closed for two years because of the earthquake. A ticket costs 20 NZD. A new temporary bus station has been erected just outside of the city centre – a single trip starts at 1.80 NZD, (5 NZD to the airport), but fares are 25% cheaper with a Metrocard.
Money Saving Tips
Buy a Metrocard – If you plan to spend extended time in Christchurch, you can save money on public transportation by buying a Metrocard. These reloadable cards cost 10 NZD and must be loaded with an additional 10 NZD to work. However, this card is well worth it since it makes bus fares 25% cheaper.
Top Things to See and Do in Christchurch
Visit the Antarctic Center – This tourist attraction near the airport is worth considering if you’re interested in Antarctica. There is a lot of information on the environment and wildlife of the continent. It features a simulated Antarctic environment and you can even ride in a Hägglund Antarctic vehicle.
Pull out your Binoculars at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve – This wildlife park focuses on native bird life and it is best known for its excellent nocturnal kiwi tours.
Ride the Christchurch Gondola – This gondola ride in Christchurch’s southern suburbs offers excellent views of the city center and surrounding areas.
Visit the Port Hills – The trails in the Port Hills are an outdoorsy way to catch the best views of Christchurch and the Southern Alps on one side and beautiful Banks Peninsula on the other. You can walk or bike them and they are a popular spot for exercising locals.
Explore Cathedral Square – This is the main center of town where all the markets, fairs are, and where locals hang out. During the weekend, there is usually an event occurring. The cathedral is still closed due to being ruined in the earthquake.
Check out Canterbury Museum – This free museum includes colonial, Maori and natural history sections, Antarctic exploration display, and visiting exhibitions.
Cycle Through Hagley Park’s Leafy Glades – Admire the stately English trees, colorful themed flower beds in the Botanic Gardens and the tranquility of the meandering Avon River. This is a great place to run, cycle, or just relax! It gets busy here with runners at night.
Check out a festival – Christchurch is the hub city of festivals in New Zealand. There is typically something going on every month. The Festival of Romance is perhaps the most unique with a 10-day celebration prior to Valentine ’s Day.
Shop at Lyttelton Farmers Market – Whether you are looking to stock up on some groceries or just want to check out an authentic market, this is the place to stop. Many locals contribute and shop here, stuffing it with only the freshest, seasonal produce, bread, cheeses, honey, eggs, relishes and more. There is always great people-watching and sometimes also music to enjoy.
Tour Mona Vale – This is a traditional, Elizabethan-style home on a huge plot of beautifully manicured land. The inside of the house is pretty cool, but the neat thing about this place is the pre-made picnics. You have to order them the day before because of the high demand and attention to detail they put into every meal.
Visit the Bone Dude – Learn how to make your own bone carving. The original studio was destroyed in the quake, but the owner has set up a temporary studio in the garage at his home. He currently offers only 1 session per day from 12-4 pm Monday-Friday and 10-1pm Saturdays.
Wander through SoMo – The area ‘South of Moorhouse Ave is the hippest, most creative area in Christchurch, consisting of neighborhoods Sydenham and Addington. Spend an afternoon exploring the streets, eating at the unique cafes and restaurants (like Honey Pot Cafe or Burgers & Beers), or check out some of the live music that can be frequently found here in the evenings.
Experience Maori Culture – If you haven’t been exposed to it yet, you can get a sense of traditional Maori culture by visiting Kotane, a cultural centre located on Willowbank wildlife Reserve. The full package includes a tour of the village and wildlife reserve, a performance show, and a four-course dinner, but prices are high at 165 NZD. This is a pretty upscale production, so prepare yourself for a full day immersion.