Welcome to the beautiful 'Garden City' that is our biggest city in the South Island, Christchurch. This place has endured some tough times over the past few years with recent earthquakes rattling the Canterbury Region. The people are tough and resilient however and are most hospitable. Explore this rebuilt city and its many curious sites that surround it. Be sure to go to a rugby match if there's one happening during your stay, they're all experts on the game down here! This city is where the country folk meet the city people and is slowly gaining a reputation for being alternative, hip and modern in its rebirth.
1. Go punting on the River Avon
Check out the ‘Garden City’ from your very own flat bottomed boat, your skilled punter will glide you along the Avon River in style! You’ll travel through the city’s Botanic Gardens and the historic Antigua Boat sheds, by the end of your journey you’ll feel just like a Venetian!
2. STREET ART MURAL WALK
After the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, street art started to pop up all over the place on buildings that are derelict, trying to bring a sense of togetherness back into the community after a few hard years. This is art you can stare at and admire for hours and the best part is; it's free, not some expensive, overpriced art gallery. FREE!
3. Hike one of the tracks in Port Hills
Get your sweat-pants on! Hills and lots of 'em. That's why we say hike one. The Port Hills have had their fair share of hardship over time with Earthquakes and fires, but they're still up to the task. The views are magnificent overlooking the cityscape. Be sure to set aside a half-day for this activity!
4. Spend a Sunday at Riccarton Market
The Riccarton Market is held every Sunday and is Christchurch's largest market housing over 300 stalls from fresh food, arts & crafts, clothing, furniture and much more. There are also local artists playing music whilst you stroll around, perfect right?!
5. Hop on a wine tour
The Canterbury region is relatively new to the wine game but none the less has some awesome Riesling and Pinot Noir, all grown in scenic landscapes so you can sip and enjoy the view. You can either hop on a day tour with a local guide where you'll be taken to various wineries for tastings as well as learn a bit about how they're made. Some recommendations for tours include Waipara wine tours or tour your own way around on the food and wine trail.
6. Day trip to Hamner Springs
Another hour and a half drive, this time north from CHCH. This town is all about hot springs and there's nothing better to do on a cold, shivering winters day than to jump into a nice warm tubby. This town also has its range of boutique shopping along with cafes and eateries aplenty. This is also a town with its natural thrills and spills, with rafting, bungy jumping, jet boating and horse treks popular.
7. DAY TRIP TO AKAROA
This little town is a gem and is only an hour and a half drive south east from the city. Founded by French settlers this township has quaint colonial cottages and French street names, which spices things up a bit from the traditional English. This town is set in a beautiful harbour and is big on food (cheese in particular- yummmm). It's easy to explore by foot and swimming with the dolphins is a popular activity.
8. ATV/ Quad bike tour
This is FUN. This activity is one that you can savour, unlike a bungy where it's a 5 minute deal. Imagine that rollercoaster feeling except now you're in control. These tours are particularly suited to Canterbury's surrounding high-country landscape with a setting that'll take your breath away. This is an activity that'll take most of your day and is located around an hours drive west from Christchurch in Springfield (no, it's not a model replica of The Simpsons home town, far from it, although they do have a donut statue). Visit their site for all the deets.
9. VISIT THE INTERNATIONAL ANTARCTIC CENTRE
Right around the corner from JUCY Snooze is the International Antarctic Centre! Learn more about the scientific research work being carried out down in the icy land and Antarctica's effect on the rest of the world. There's an activity for everyone at the Antarctic Centre - meet the little blue penguins, experience the 'storm room' or ride a Hagglund (an all-terrain amphibious vehicle) outdoors! The International Antarctic Centre is a an awesome option for a rainy day, or for those wanting to learn about a unique part of the world without taking a long flight!
10. Hop on/off Christchurch tram
If you're feeling like a day of no stress and chillin, then a lovely little tram ride will pass your day by. Christchurch still has its tram, which were unfortunately ripped up in most other cities in favour of cars. You'll pick up some knowledgeable information from the tram operators who'll tell you about the cities heritage and will advise other popular places within the city centre. The tram passes inner city streets, the likes of Cashel Street (where the shops are) along with New Regent Street which is filled with Spanish-flavoured architecture and is a pedestrian mall. The tram also passes by the most notable building in the city, the Christchurch Cathedral, sadly destroyed by the 2011 Earthquake.