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 everything this quirky city has to offer with our top 10 picks, there's no shortage of things to see and do during your trip!
1. Go punting on the River Avon
Admire the shores of the Avon River from your very own flat bottomed boat! With your very own skilled punter steering the boat, you'll travel through central Christchurch in style. You’ll float past the city’s Botanic Gardens and the historic Antigua Boat sheds, by the end of your journey you’ll feel just like a Venetian! Perfect on a sunny summer's day, have your phone at the ready as this one's for the 'gram.
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. Aptly named due to their position between Central Christchurch and the city's port, the views are magnificent overlooking the city and beaches and there are numerous tracks and trails to choose from. Be sure to set aside at least a half-day for this one depending on the track! If you're after a full day trip, take a picnic and park up for lunch.
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?! The best part, this one's free (if you want it to be), so grab your travel buddies and have a wander.
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. There's things to see and do here; 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 or create your own wine tour and hop around the region whilst admiring the view. 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 you're heading north. 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.Kick back and relax in a steaming hot pool with epic views in the winter when it snows! If you're not in to lazing about all day, the town also has some boutique shopping along with cafes and eateries aplenty, along with your 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 with plenty to see and do.
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 details.
9. VISIT THE INTERNATIONAL ANTARCTIC CENTRE
A hop, skip and jump away 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 role in global warming. 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 the 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 by the most notable building in the city, the Christchurch Cathedral, sadly affected by the 2011 Earthquake.