Top 5 Must-Do Activities in Christchurch
Christchurch | Ōtautahi | Chch | the ’03 | the ‘Chur
With two YHA hostels and our National Office located in Ōtautahi Christchurch, we like to think we know a thing or two about little old Chch.
It’s an oft-skipped part of people’s itineraries, but the reality is that this town provides a rare chance to watch an entire city reimagine itself. It’s happening all around us and it’s a pretty cool thing to see.
1. Walk the walk
Call us old-fashioned, but we think the best way to get a feel for a city is to take a stroll around its centre.
Christchurch is no exception – this is hands down the best way to get a feel for the old and the brand new. We recommend our ultimate loop here, or split it into smaller sections and sample local cuisine along the way!
2. Head for the hills
Piling into a car and heading up the windy road into the Port Hills holds a pull for both newcomers and residents alike. Enjoy mountain biking trails, walking tracks, and scenery in every direction.
Head up in the afternoon to check out the spectacular view – on a clear day you can see the Kaikoura ranges. Stick around into the evening to watch the city lights come on.
Cashmere Hill lookout has a handy guide to help you pick out landmarks. Sign of the Kiwi is popular for a first glimpse of the city once you finally face north again, and a quick jaunt up Summit Road in any direction is beautiful.
3. Culture fix
As the oldest established city in New Zealand, Christchurch has a little bit to say on this front! The City Council produced a heritage guide to the area that includes 71 sites, so there’s plenty to choose from. Take a ride on the tram for maximum effect.
If you’re staying at YHA Christchurch or YHA Christchurch Rolleston House (which is a heritage building in its own right), you’re in a prime location to check out the Canterbury Museum, Centre of Contemporary Art, and Christchurch Art Gallery.
4. Eat and drink on Victoria and High
The only diagonal streets in the city centre make great places to eat and drink.
Victoria Street boasts a number of places that make great options any time of day. Get your coffee fix at Black and White Coffee Cartel, discover the speakeasy hidden behind a drycleaner's, and let Mexicano’s moreish menu speak for itself.
Even those seeking something a little more upmarket have options here: King of Snake, Louis Champagne and Oyster Bar, and Saggio di Vino have some particularly fine dining for those ‘treat yourself’ days.
In the evenings the street is a hive of activity supplemented by the likes of the Dirty Land, the Bog, and the Christchurch Casino.
Over near High Street, Dux Central has resurrected itself in new premises to great effect. Potsticker Dumpling Bar next door is a convenient and delicious stop for a pre or post beverage snack. Little High Eatery is the new kid on the block that quickly shot to 'favourite child' status - 8 different cuisine options within the one complex and a buzzing atmosphere makes it easy to see why.
C1 is a Christchurch institution, not only for its coffee, but also the pneumatic tubes they use to deliver food to your table. This backs on to another long-standing feature of the area, Alice in Videoland, which is home to a boutique cinema.
Post-quake addition Stranges Lane offers not one, but three back-alley joints all producing great food, drink, and atmosphere. Try Orleans on a Wednesday over lunch for a shake + waffle deal that tempts even the most traditional of diners.
5. Natural beauty
You can’t beat a picnic in Hagley Park or Mona Vale on a good day, and both are walking distance from the city centre. The ongoing project to broaden the banks of the Avon means there are pockets of green alongside the river throughout the city which make a great place to stroll. Our top tip is snagging some food at the Container Mall then heading down to the water to sit and eat.
If you’ve got a car and a nice day, then there are a few beaches you can’t go past. Sumner is accessible by bus, but just over the hill lies Taylor’s Mistake and the walk out to Godley Heads which both merit a few hours of your time. Over Lyttelton way, turn right out of the tunnel and you’ll have your pick of the many bays in Diamond Harbour.
For an oasis in suburbia and copious amounts of food, we recommend Riccarton Bush Farmers Market on a Saturday morning. Fresh produce, delicious treats, music, and a heritage building all set in an easy-to-reach park? Sign us up.
Thanks to Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism for the use of their images.