Christchurch is the second largest city of New Zealand and is the gateway to the South Island. After the devastating earthquake of 2011, the city is very much on the rebuild and there are still many beautifying works to be done. It may not be the same as before, but Christchurch still offers endless opportunity for total relaxation and adventure. Our 3-day suggested itinerary is designed to show you the best the city has to offer and what are the things you can accomplish. Depending on your interests and travel priorities, you can certainly mix and match destinations, activities, and attractions to create your own itinerary.
Things to know before traveling to Christchurch, New Zealand:
People and language – New Zealanders are also knows as Kiwis. New Zealand is a multi-ethnic society with a history of Maori, European, Pacific and Asian cultures thus, it considered home to people of many national origins. English is the predominant language spoken in New Zealand but Maori is the official language as declared in 1987.
Money – New Zealand’s unit of currency is the dollar (NZ$). All major credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted. Foreign currency can be exchanged at banks, Bureau de Change Kiosks and some hotel, which are located in the airports and city centers.
Health – Public and Private hospitals in New Zealand are all equipped and specialized for any emergencies. But arranging your own health insurance is recommended as treatment and services are not free, except as a result of an accident. It is also important to know that there are no vaccinations or inoculations required to enter New Zealand.
Tourist Visa – Many people will qualify for visa-free entry, depending on the country of origin, some will still need to apply for a visa before they travel. Check the current visa requirements for entering New Zealand here. Citizens and permanent residents of Australia are exempted from the requirement to hold a permit. They can visit, live and work in New Zealand indefinitely for as long as they do not have any criminal records. British passport holders can enter the country for up to 6 months on arrival without a visa.
Safety and security – New Zealand is one of the safest holiday destinations in the world with a very low crime rate, few endemic diseases and advanced health care facilities. However, you are advised to observe the same precautions with your personal safety and health as you would in any other country. For any type of emergencies, you may call 111 if you need a quick response from the fire service, police, ambulance or search and rescue.
Getting around – New Zealand is divided into two main islands, both are well connected by air and by land. Campervan or motorhome is a popular choice for families who like flexibility on their trip. There are plenty of campervan companies in the country including Wicked Campers, Britz, KEA Campers and Trailite.
Where to stay – There are many types of holiday accommodation in New Zealand, from luxury hotels to cheaper accommodation like youth hostels and bed and breakfast. There are also plenty of apartment rentals if you prefer the comfort and convenience of having your own place with cooking facilities.
Hotels to consider in Christchurch:
Day by day itinerary: Best of Christchurch, New Zealand in 3 days
Today’s your first day in Christchurch! Make sure to drop by the Christchurch i-SITE Visitor Center (Arts Center, 28 Worcester Blvd.) to get printed maps, bus schedules and tour recommendations. Check into your preferred accommodation and grab some breakfast before your self-guided tour.
After breakfast, set out this morning to see some of the most beautiful attractions in the city. Head to your fist destination, which is the Canterbury Museum. Built in the late 19th century, the museum shows New Zealand’s unique culture and heritage. Another well-loved museum in the city that you can visit is the Air Force Museum of New Zealand. This museum exhibits the fascinating history of New Zealand’s military aviation and houses a vast collection of air force manuscripts, logbooks, aircraft and equipment, films and photographs, among others. You may to spend as much time as possible here if you would like to see the historic aircraft in the museum.
You may also allow yourself some downtime in the afternoon at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. You may sit around or people watch in the garden or you may check out the exciting array of attractions like the Central Rose Garden, Azalea and Magnolia Garden, Herbaceous Border, and the Temperate Asian Collection.
A trip to Queenstown would not be complete without a visit to the Banks Peninsula, which is probably one of the most popular day-trip activities in the city. The Okains Bay and Le Bons Bay are great for swimming and camping. The opportunity for incredible photographs while on this trip is endless, so frequent stops are recommended for visitors to enjoy the scenery. Aside from the awe-inspiring landscape you will see, you might be lucky to come across the rare Hector’s dolphin and a colony of little penguin.
Once back in the city, pay your respect to the victims of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake at the 185 Empty White Chairs – Earthquake Memorial. It was supposed to be a temporary earthquake memorial to remember the 185 people who died but it later became a Christchurch landmark. Since 2012, tourists came in bus loads and we definitely understand why.
If you still have time and energy, visit the Transitional Cathedral (also known as the Cardboard Cathedral). Built in 2013 as a temporary replacement to the badly damaged Christchurch Cathedral, the Cardboard Cathedral has been a symbol of hope and faith in the city.
Today is your last day in Christchurch. Spend the rest of your day checking out some attractions in the scenic town that you might have missed. Fit in one last amazing breakfast or lunch in the town. You could even squeeze in some souvenir shopping before you travel to the airport. Head to the airport in time to check in for your international flight home, opt to continue traveling independently, or extend your stay in New Zealand. The decision is all yours!
Have you been to Christchurch or anywhere else in New Zealand? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.
Featured image: Old English tram on a street in Christchurch, New Zealand (Inna Kravets / Shutterstock.com)