Christchurch, New Zealand
The largest city on New Zealand’s South Island, Christchurch is renowned for its spectacular natural landscapes. Its urban centre is set along the Avon River.
Once full of historic and high-rise buildings, the geography of the city has changed since the 2011 earthquakes. Re-emerging from the ruins, compact Christchurch has been significantly restored and injected with art and innovation. With a variety of shops and restaurants plus a selection of unique attractions, it is a popular cruise stop.
Akaroa is currently the main port for visiting ships. Located around 75 kilometres from the city, this historic French and British settlement is nestled inside an ancient volcano. Welcoming around 200,000 visitors a year, ships dock offshore and tender passengers to the main wharf.
Cruise ships also call into Lyttelton, approximately 12 kilometres from Christchurch. The main port before the earthquakes, today it welcomes smaller vessels only.
Located 90 minutes’ drive from Christchurch on Canterbury’s Banks Peninsula, Akaroa has become the city’s busiest port in recent years. The area surrounding the port is renowned for its natural beauty.
The visitor centre on the main wharf offers an internet centre and a free booking service for activities in and around the area. The village and it numerous shops, cafés, galleries and restaurants are within walking distance.
Akaroa can be easily explored on foot, although there is a shuttle for the less mobile. Buses and taxis are located close by, affording easy access to Christchurch.
There are currently limited facilities at Lyttelton port. A free shuttle bus is provided to take passengers into the town centre, which offers a visitor centre and museum, plus a range of shops, cafés and restaurants.
How to Get Around
There are several ways to travel from Akaroa or Lyttelton to Christchurch. A number of shuttle and bus services run between the ports and the city. Taxis and rental cars are also available.
Travel times to Christchurch
- 90 minutes from Akaroa (shuttle bus $45/taxi $200-$215)
- 20-30 minutes from Lyttelton (public bus $2.50/taxi $30-$35)
Once in Christchurch, the city is easy to navigate on foot and most attractions are within easy reach.
- The historic Christchurch Tram runs around the city centre stopping at 7 key points for the city’s main attractions. The tour is guided, and hop on/hop off day passes are available at a cost of $10.
- A metropolitan bus service is available to most suburbs and surrounding areas. The bus station is located in the centre of Christchurch on Lichfield Street.
- Currency - the local currency in Christchurch is the New Zealand Dollar. Coins come in 10, 20 and 50-cent denominations, as well as 1 and 2 dollar coins. Notes come in 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100-dollar denominations.
- Time Zone - Christchurch uses New Zealand Standard Time (NZST), which is 12 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+12). Used during the summer months, New Zealand Daylight Time (NZDT) is 13 hours ahead (UTC+13).
- Weather - Christchurch has a relatively dry, temperate climate, with warm summers and cool winters. Average temperatures range between 23 degrees Celsius in January and 11 degrees Celsius in July.
- Cathedral Square - the heart of the city, historic Cathedral Square was badly affected by the 2011 earthquakes, which partially collapsed its cathedral. Today it has been revived, returning it to its bustling and lively former self. In addition to cafés, bars, restaurants and food stalls, it is the city’s prime spot for public art. Markets also take place within the square, which sits close to the Avon River.
- Canterbury Museum - just a short stroll from Cathedral Square, the Canterbury Museum showcases New Zealand’s rich cultural and natural heritage. Highlights include the Antarctic discovery experience and the Maori collections in the Iwi Tawhito and Ngā Taonga galleries. It also showcases native animal and birdlife and European decorative art, and hosts a range of frequently changing exhibitions.
- Botanic Gardens - situated in the loop of the Avon River, and surrounded by the lush expanses of Hagley Park, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens are home to one of the finest collections of exotic and indigenous plants in New Zealand. A top attraction in the city, an electric-powered caterpillar shuttle offers tours around the gardens, which include the Rose Garden and the tropical greenhouse.
- Cashel Street - one of the main shopping streets in the city, Cashel Street is home to the modern and stylish Restart Mall. Comprised of colourful shipping containers, it offers a unique retail experience and boasts a range of shops, cafés and restaurants. It’s an impressive reminder of the resilience and innovation the city has seen since the earthquakes.