New Zealand’s second largest city, Christchurch (also known as 'The Garden City'), is a hub of excitement. It is located in the Province of Canterbury, on the east coast of the South Island and has many attractions right on its doorstep.
The city has been put through the ringer over the last year, with over 7000 aftershocks since the earthquake on 4th September 2010. Since then, the local people have pulled through and shown great resilience. 'Cantabs' (short for Cantabrians) are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. Going to the toilet in a hole in the ground, or a port-a-loo is not fun, but you will always see the local people smiling - maybe that’s because we have an ace local rugby team (Canterbury Crusaders)...
The great thing about Christchurch is that it doesn’t matter what floats your boat, there is always something for you. Whether it’s shopping you are after, or just a nice cup of coffee you won’t have to look far. Unfortunately the recent events have seen the shut down of our central business district as it has been 'Red zoned' due to the instability of many buildings. This has bought the centre of attention into the suburbs and the local economy is really starting to kick off again.
For the more adventurous, we are a stones throw away from the mountains where you can go tramping (hiking) in the summer, and skiing in the winter. We are a 90 minute drive from Hanmer Springs (small tourist town in central Canterbury which has natural hot spring pools). Christchurch is also known as the gateway to the Antarctic, with a great Antarctic Centre out at the Airport and this is the main departure point for the flights down to the bottom of the world.
Some of the many things to do and see in Christchurch:
- Orana Park Wildlife Park. The park is set up as the African Plains and they have most of the big animals Africa has to offer. Also has a kiwi house, you have to see a kiwi while you are in NZ!
- Willowbank Wildlife reserve. Another animal park, but more oriented toward the New Zealand way of life, from peacocks to patting sheep, the kids (and big kids at heart) will love it.
- Antarctic Centre. You can watch the penguin feedings, play in the artificial snow cave and go on a snow mobile ride.
- Day at the beach. In summer, New Brighton has the beach vibe. With cafes, shops and ice cream right on hand. Have a walk down the 300m pier. Why stop there, head out to Sumner where you have a beach in front of you and some hills behind you, what more could you want.
- Walk around the port hills. Some easy walks from the Suburb of Cashmere up to a historic cafe (Sign of the Kiwi - opened in 1917) situated at the top of the port hills. This offers magnificent views over the city, and if you turn around you will see Lyttleton Harbor.
- Christchurch Gondola. Magnificent views over Christchurch.
- Picnic at Hagley Park - the great North and South Hagley Park is about 8-9km in circumference (so together, it is pretty big), situated right in the middle of the city, the Christchurch Museum and botanical gardens are here as well and well worth checking out.
We are still in the rebuilding phase after these earthquakes; click on the following link if you would like to donate to the Earthquake appeal via the NZ Red Cross. Red Cross donations.
If you want any more information about the city please post comments below, I am more than happy to be a liaison if you are thinking of spending some time here, and I’d be happy to show you around if you needed a local tour guide!
Would you recommend this destination: Yes
Overall rating: 5 out of 5