The Ultimate Christchurch City Guide: What To Do, See & Eat

Known as the Garden City, Christchurch is the second-largest city in New Zealand with plenty of things to do. Here is the ultimate Christchurch City guide you need for your trip.
Ultimate Christchurch City Guide. Photo: Brendan Pfahlert | Unsplash

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Located on the South Island of New Zealand, Christchurch is the country’s second-largest city and not one to miss.

While Christchurch may have a tragic history surrounding the deadly earthquakes in 2010-2011, the lively city has made a comeback! 

Christchurch is known for its funky bars, new restaurants, shops and beautiful scenery. 

So, if you’re planning a trip to Christchurch, here is everything you need to know!

Best Time to Visit Christchurch

Best Time to Visit Christchurch. Photo: Niklas Ohlrogge | Unsplash

Christchurch is situated on the east coast of the South Island, boasting mild summers and cool winters. 

Summer is from December to February and is the most popular time to visit Christchurch. However, these months are also when people are off work, and kids are on school holidays, making it the busiest time of year. 

The shoulder seasons of Autumn (March to May) and Spring (September to November) are great times to visit to beat the crowds. 

Winter is from June to August, and because it gets pretty cold during these months, it’s the cheapest time to visit. If you don’t mind the cold and occasional snow, visiting Christchurch in winter is excellent as accommodation and activity prices drop.

Related: This is the best time to visit New Zealand.

How to Get Around Christchurch 

How to Get Around. Photo: Brayden Gray | Unsplash

Since Christchurch is a relatively big city, there are plenty of ways to get around, including 

  • Public transport: Buses are the most common ways to navigate the city. 
  • Car rental: If you’re staying in Christchurch for longer and want to get around the region easily, renting a car is your best option. 
  • Ridesharing: Uber is available in Christchurch and is one of the cheapest ways of getting around the city.
  • Taxi: Taxis in the city are incredibly expensive, so avoid them if you can. 
  • Bike rental: If you fancy cycling throughout the city, bike rentals can be found for around 40 NZD for the day. 

Where to Stay in Christchurch 

Where to Stay in Christchurch. Photo: Vivian Wong | Unsplash

Christchurch Inner City 

The CBD is one of the largest and busiest areas in Christchurch and, if you want to be in the heart of it all, is one of the best areas to stay in. 

Since the Inner City was most affected by the devastating earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. So, today the area stands out for its modern architecture. 

The city centre of Christchurch is a great area to stay in for its restaurants, cafes, shops and nightlife. 


Located north of downtown Christchurch, Merivale is one of the best areas to stay in the city. 

Merivale is a great place to stay in Christchurch because it boasts residential areas with parks, restaurants and plenty of hotels and motels. 


Known as the university district, Riccarton is located west of downtown Christchurch and is a great area to stay for cheap accommodations.

Among the universities in the area, Riccarton also boasts a large shopping complex with restaurants, shops and theatres. Riccarton is also known for its various Chinese restaurants, cafes and cheap hotels. 

Riccarton is only ten minutes from the centre of Christchurch, making it easy to get in and out of the city centre when need be.


If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the beachside, then staying in Sumner is your best choice.

Located southeast of Christchurch, Sumner is a coastal district that revolves around Sumner Beach. 

Since Sumner is far from the city, it offers cheap accommodations and plenty of things to do, such as swimming, surfing, mountain biking, rock climbing and hiking. 

Related: Is New Zealand expensive to visit?

Where to Eat in Christchurch 

Where to Eat. Photo: Kishan Modi | Unsplash

Christchurch has a vibrant food and drink scene, so here are five places you must eat at in Christchurch.

  1. 5th Street: Open Monday to Sunday from 4:30 pm til late, 5th Street is a great place to grab dinner and a few drinks. 
  2. Aikman’s: This restaurant is a local favourite boasting great food for lunch and dinner. 
  3. Barberra: Fancy seeing your dinner be made? At Barberra, the open-plan kitchen lets you watch the magic happen as you await your meal. 
  4. Barefoot Eatery: If you love organic, plant-based food, Barefoot Eatery is your go-to in Christchurch! 
  5. Beach Sumner: Located on Sumner Beach, this restaurant boasts stunning views of the ocean while serving up delicious, fresh food. 

Things to do in Christchurch 

Christchurch Gondola. Photo: Kishan Modi | Unsplash

So, now that you know when to visit, where to stay and what to eat in Christchurch, here are the best things to do. 

Ride the Christchurch Gondola 

While the gondola ride up Mount Cavendish may only be ten minutes, it boasts some of the city’s best views. 

There is a restaurant at the top of the mountain where you can grab a bite to eat to savour the stunning views. 

After fuelling up, you can either head down the mountain on foot or explore the walking trails at the top. 

Cycle through Hagley Park 

Created in 1855, Hagley Park is Christchurch’s version of New York’s Central Park. 

The park spans over 400 acres and is one of the best places to cycle in the city. The park is also home to playgrounds, a cricket ground, a golf course and many green spaces to relax. 

Wander through the Botanic Gardens 

Christchurch is known as the Garden City,  so there’s no better place to see why it’s called that than wandering through the Botanic Gardens. 

Boasting the widest collection of native and exotic plants in the entire country, the Botanic Gardens is massive. The Botanic Gardens has existed for over 150 years and offers an array of plant life, trees, ponds and more. 

The rose garden is one of the most popular places in the Botanic Gardens, particularly in spring when it’s in full bloom. 

Go hiking in the Port Hills 

Since mountains surround Christchurch, hiking is one of the best things to do!

Located south of Christchurch, the Port Hills boasts plenty of hiking trails for travellers looking to stretch their legs and soak up beautiful views. 

Two of the best hikes to do in the Port Hills include the Godley Head Coastal Walk and the Crater Rim Track. 

Related: Here are more things to do in Christchurch.

While Christchurch may have a dark history, it has bounced back and is now one of the liveliest cities in New Zealand. 

With so much character and plenty of things to do, when are you planning your visit? 


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