- Use Christchurch as your base of travels for the rest of the south island.
- If you are going to have your own wheels while in New Zealand, ask a local about the Inland Scenic Route and take it as you head south out of Christchurch. It very well may be the most beautiful drive you’ll ever take.
- Want some delicious and cheap fish and chips? Head to City Fish and Chips in the middle of Christchurch for this old school meal wrapped in yesterday’s newspaper.
- Instead of hopping on one of those tourist buses, get your own wheels and explore on your own and at your own pace.
Why you should add Christchurch to your RTW travel list
- See some sheep, lots of sheep, 30 million plus sheep
- Christchurch is the gateway to South Island of New Zealand and many of its natural wonders
- Take a Helicopter over Glaciers near Mount Cook
- Bungee jump in Queenstown
- Visit the International Antarctic Centre for a close look at the Great WhiteContinent.
- Learn more about Maori culture at the Nga Hau E Wha National Marae.
- Settle in for some whale watching at Kaikoura.
- Hang out in Cathedral Square and listen to the wisdom of the Wizard of Christchurch.
Why you should not add Christchurch to your RTW travel list
- It can be pretty pricey compared to other destinations you may add to your RTW trip.
- While Christchurch is beautiful and the people are great, it can be underwhelming to the rest of the country.
Christchurch is the largest city on New Zealand’s South Island and is certainly a pleasant city, but it’s best used as a stopping point at the beginning or end of a tour of all the magical things to see and do on the South Island. All the other travelers in town feel like they are just coming from or going to somewhere else so a visit of about one day is normal. If you are thinking of coming to New Zealand to see its cities and enjoy its culture you might want to think twice about that. The pleasures of Kiwi Land are away from the towns.
What To Do
Christchurch, appropriately enough, has an impressive cathedral that is worth a visit. There is an interesting Air Force Museum with full-size replicas of various warplanes from the 20th Century. There are a few other museums and galleries around town to check out if you want to unwind and hang around for a day or two at the end of an adventure trip, and the nightlife scene is well developed and very centralized if you feel like throwing back a few pints or watching some football on the telly. But most people tend to hang around the many internet cafes, which can be rare in rural New Zealand, and be content to trade stories with other travelers at the hostel.
You can arrive in Christchurch by bus as part of a regional tour, but chances are you’ll be flying in or out of Christchurch International Airport (code: CHC). Most of the flights go to Auckland, Queenstown and Wellington, but you can also reach Christchurch from parts of Australia as well as Japan and Singapore. There is a regular bus service that takes 30-40 minutes from the airport to the city center as well as a few reasonably priced shuttle services.
Where To Stay
The city center is rather compact and there are loads of hostels in Christchurch that cater specifically to the many backpackers cruising through town. They can book up early during peak times so plan ahead. There are also plenty of hotels in Christchurch with many of the more affordable ones being a little away from the city center. If you are coming in a campervan and don't care much about the nightlife this might be a good option since there isn’t much parking in the center.