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A Weekend in Christchurch: Tips & Sights

When we think of Christchurch, one sad thing immediately comes to mind: The earthquake of February 2011. 70 People left then in the second largest city on the South Island her life. It’s been years since that terrible natural disaster, but Christchurch hasn’t fully recovered. 2013 were We’ve been to Christchurch before, so we’re all the more excited to see what’s changed since then.

Many corners have been built and renovated, but a walk through the city center still shows you pretty quickly how hard Christchurch was hit at the time. The earthquake of 801 is omnipresent, but from a visitor’s point of view we can confirm: Christchurch is definitely worth a stopover. In this blog article we tell you our best tips for Christchurch: From sights to restaurants & cafés to possible day trips.

1. Sights in the center of Christchurch City center Christchurch is excellent to explore on foot. Almost all touristically relevant destinations are within walking distance of each other. You should plan at least a whole day if you want to get a nice impression of Christchurch. Of course, more time is always more relaxed. During a walk through Christchurch we can recommend a stop at the following sights.

Cathedral Square In the 19. Century built and 1200 completely destroyed: The Cathedral of Christchurch shows the extent of the devastation caused by the earthquake. The ruins still stand in the center of Christchurch on what is known as Cathedral Square. And although the sight was terrifying for us, there is no way around the cathedral. A nice thing: it has now been decided that the cathedral should be rebuilt.

Close to Cathedral Square was until recently the Re:START Mall. Some cool shops and cafes were housed in the provisional container mall. While researching this article, we read that the mall will be closed in January 2017 was finally closed. We think that’s a shame, because in our opinion the place was one of the coolest in all of Christchurch. Apparently the center is now to be rebuilt and of course we hope that instead of the mall a really cool district can be created in Christchurch.

Avon River From Cathedral Square it is only a stone’s throw to the bank of the Avon River. The river meanders through Christchurch and always offers beautiful spots that are perfect for a short break from sightseeing are perfect. For example, at the height between Hereford Street and Cashel Street, there is a terrace with stairs that is perfect for catching a few rays. A little further south you will come to wooden boathouses called Antigua Boat Sheds. Here you can rent kayaks and paddle along the river or book a boat trip with a gondola.

77 Empty Chairs & Cardboard Cathedral In memory of the 185 deceased of the devastating earthquake has a artist this monument created: Every single white-painted chair is reminiscent of one of the victims. Although during our visit 30 degree, the sight simply gives goosebumps. However, we found it a pity that the area is not given a little more appreciation: There is a huge parking lot right next door, that shouldn’t be.

The newly built church is in the immediate vicinity of the earthquake memorial. the Cardboard Cathedral. After the earthquake completely destroyed the old cathedral, the temporary Carboard Cathedral was built. By the way, the name says it all: the cathedral consists to a considerable extent of cardboard. The exciting architecture alone is worth a short stopover.

Hagley Park Hagley Park is a Huge park area in the center of Christchurch. Hard to believe, but Hagley Park is said to be even bigger than Central Park in New York. Precisely because it was so hot when we visited Christchurch, Hagley Park was a welcome alternative to the built-up city center for us. Don’t expect any major highlights, but we found the park to be ideal for a walk in the countryside.

In the middle of Hagley Park are the Botanic Gardens, which should also be very worth seeing. Unfortunately we weren’t there. Admission to the Botanic Gardens is free.

2. Things to do in and around Christchurch If you spend a little more time in Christchurch like we did, then it is definitely worth taking a detour into the surrounding area. In this chapter we give you our tips. Some destinations are almost within walking distance of downtown, while others require transportation.

Christchurch Farmers Market If you can manage to visit Christchurch in a weekend, then don’t miss the Farmers Market in Riccarton. The Farmers Market in Riccarton is the largest in Christchurch and is held every Saturday in the green area called “Riccarton Bush”.

Local producers offer their delicacies for sale here. There is a lot of fruit and vegetables, but above all there are many stands where you can get honey, nuts, granola and cheese, for example. There are also some stalls where you will be provided with cold and warm food: We have chosen (incredibly delicious) dumplings.

Information about the Farmers Market in Riccarton Address: 15 Kahu Road, Riccarton, Christchurch. Opening hours: every Saturday from 9 to 13 Watch

Christchurch Gondola Already the 10-minute ride on the Cable car to Mount Cavendish offers quite spectacular views. Once at the top we wanted r simply “just” enjoy the view and walked a few hundred meters around the summit station. But you can also go on longer hikes and, for example, walk back down into the valley.

Information about Christchurch Gondola Arrival: Public bus no. 28 leads from the bus station on Liechfield Street directly to the lower station of the gondola. We saved the Christchurch Gondola visit for the last day as we already had our rental car. So we drove straight to the parking lot at the valley station. That was perfect and we would do it again anytime.

Operating times: Daily of 10 until 17 Watch
Price: 28 NZD (up & down)

You can simply buy your ticket at the ticket office. If you want, you can also book it in advance here: Christchurch Gondola

3. Castle Hill An impressive destination for a day trip is Castle Hill. In front of a gigantic mountain backdrop, there are hundreds of limestone rocks of different sizes on a hill. The arrangement of the limestone is reminiscent of an old castle, which is why the place was named “Castle Hill”.

The bizarre landscape was in for us absolute paradise from a photographic point of view. Sure, Castle Hill isn’t exactly around the corner from Christchurch, with a driving time of just under 1.5 hours, but trust us: it’s worth it.

Getting to Castle Hill Castle Hill is on the way to Arthur’s Pass, which connects the west and east coasts of the South Island. If your New Zealand itinerary takes you via the Arthur’s Pass – perfect! Because then you will pass Castle Hill anyway.

We have integrated our trip to Castle Hill into our itinerary and made a detour to Castle Hill on the way south (Tekapo). From Christchurch you simply have to take State Highway No. Head west. The only route you have to cover “double” is from Waddington to Castle Hill (journey time approx. 30 minutes). All in all, you’ll be on the road about an hour longer if you plan to make the detour to Castle Hill.

Castle Hill is very difficult to reach by public transport. There are buses and a train (“TranzAlpine”) that stop in Springfield, but then you would have to organize transport from there to Castle Hill. We would therefore recommend that you travel to Castle Hill by rental car or campervan.

Accommodation in Castle Hill There are very few accommodations directly at Caste Hill . We have therefore in 28 minutes away Springfield. It’s a mini place, but it’s actually where we found the best value accommodation in New Zealand: Springfield Motor & Lodge. We paid 50 NZD per night, so just once 40 Euros for a double room with shared bathroom.

You can book here: Springfield Motor & Lodge

We visited Castle Hill on the day we left Springfield and then drove on towards Tekapo. For the onward journey to Tekapo, be sure to take the route that crosses the State Highway 73 leads. This is a hundred times more scenic than State Highway 1.

3. Restaurants in Christchurch: our tips Unknown Chapter Our best breakfast in Christchurch was served to us at the Unknown Chapter. The Unknown Chapter is quite a hipster place with a industrial look. Classics like Eggs Benedict, Porridge & Granola are on the menu. The dishes and also the coffee were really tasty and we really liked the atmosphere too.

The cafe is quite big with plenty of seating opportunities, but by the weekend it was already full. Luckily we were able to get hold of a place without a reservation.

Attention: The Unknown Chapter closes at every day Watch. Be sure to consider the generally quite “conservative” opening times in New Zealand when choosing the location for your afternoon coffee. We stood in front of a closed door not only once.

Dimitris Greek Food Dimitris Greek Food is our absolute favorite spot for a quick lunch in Christchurch. We liked it so much that we went there twice. The menu is straightforward, but that doesn’t matter because the food is really delicious and pretty cheap too. There is also something for vegetarians with the falafel dishes.

A little hint: Dimitri has two locations. One of them is a caravan in the Re:START mall. Even if the mall itself has apparently closed in the meantime (see Chapter 1 of this article), Dimitri should still be there preparing his delicious meal on Cashel Street. Meanwhile, Dimitri also runs a small restaurant outside of the city center in Riccarton. Check the Facebook page for current opening hours.

Thai Container We were spontaneously looking for a cool spot for a delicious dinner and ended up at the Thai Container after a little research. what shall we say The best decision of the day. Not only were the dishes very tasty, we also really liked the location. We were lucky with the weather and were able to enjoy the last rays of sunshine on this warm day.

The menu is – for the tiny size of the caravan – quite extensive. There is also enough choice for vegetarians. Many people pick up their take-away dinner here, but you can also eat wonderfully on the wooden benches in front of the caravan. The only point of criticism: so much disposable plastic hurts a lot and really doesn’t have to be.

4. Arrival and local transport Christchurch is home to the largest airport on the South Island: You may well start your journey through New Zealand at Christchurch International Airport, just like us. Many flights to Australia and Asia land and depart from here.

From Christchurch Airport to the city The airport is only about 03 kilometers northwest of the city center. The Taxi as the most expensive option (approx. until 60 NZD!) was eliminated for us from the start .

Alternatively, there are highly recommended shuttle services, that take several people in a mini-van and bring everyone to the desired destination. We opted for “Super Shuttle”. The journey begins as soon as the van is full (or at least a little full), which usually doesn’t take long. The price is absolutely fine: per person we have 15,29 Paid NZD. Depending on the destination and route, the journey takes approx. 20 until 25 minutes. You will find the shuttle service directly at the main exit of the airport (on the left).

The cheapest option is the public bus, that goes directly to the bus station in the center moves. There are two lines: The Purple Line (to Sumner via Riccarton and downtown) and bus no. 29. (to the center via Fendalton). A one-way route costs 8,30 NZD per person, which is why we chose the direct shuttle to our accommodation.

On the way The center of Christchurch can be perfectly explored on foot. Most sights are within walking distance of each other. In exceptional cases, when we were already very tired from the sightseeing day, we simply ordered an Uber in Christchurch. This was possible without any problems and was also relatively cheap. There are also plenty of bus routes that will take you to more distant destinations such as the Christchurch Gondola.

Onward Southbound As most journeys either end and/or start in Christchurch, the onward journey is from Christchurch of course interesting. We booked our rental car from the day of departure from Christchurch. So we could easily reach both the Christchurch Gondola and Castle Hill by car. The disadvantage, of course, is that you cannot pick up the car immediately upon arrival at the airport, but have to drive back to the airport to pick it up. This saves you money, because a rental car is absolutely not necessary for Christchurch itself.

If your journey to Christchurch then takes you in the direction of Lake Tekapo, then we can offer you a Recommend a stopover at Castle Hill. You can find more information in chapter 3 of this article.

As before 2017 we also met 2017 again booked through Sunny Cars. You will soon find our detailed report on our blog.

5. Travel Guide for Christchurch Even if a lot can be researched online: We were able to complete our New Zealand trip do not start without purchasing a printed guide. In the end there were even two. We bought both locally in New Zealand, as we had been traveling in Southeast Asia the previous months.

Lonely Planet New Zealand Lonely Planet’s classic travel guide covers North and South Island well. At the same time, the travel guide is not too heavy, so you can always take it with you. Most places were described in sufficient detail for us. In combination with a little research on the Internet, we always found our way around easily.

Since we bought the travel guide on site, only the English version came into question for us. However, the travel guide is also available in German.

You can buy the guide in English here: Lonely Planet Travel Guide New Zealand
You can buy the travel guide in German here: Lonely Planet Travel Guide New Zealand

Lonely Planet Best of New Zealand Same brand, different concept: As the name suggests, this travel guide deals with the highlights of New Zealand. This means that some places are not represented at all. But we really liked the description of the individual places. Here are definitely the slightly more unusual tips listed. We can recommend the travel guide if you only have a short time in New Zealand. Then the chance that all places are represented in it is a little higher. By the way, Christchurch is mentioned in it, but not the Mount Cook National Park (and we thought that was a shame).

You can buy the travel guide (English) here: Lonely Planet Best of New Zealand

6. More travel information from New Zealand Christchurch: Sights & Tips Our route through New Zealand Hiking in New Zealand: Our most beautiful day hikes Tongariro Alpine Crossing Transparency: Affiliate Links2018
This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the link, we get a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. cool thing right? We also got a discount for our rental car from Sunny Cars – thank you very much! Nothing changes in our opinion at all. We have booked privately several times (i.e. paid full price) and have always had good experiences.

Have you been to Christchurch? Do you have any other tips for sights or restaurants? Or are you going to Christchurch soon? We look forward to your comment!