Christchurch is a city on the South Island of New Zealand and is the center of the Canterbury region. The name translates from English as the Church of Christ. Christchurch’s close proximity to the seaport and the international airport make it an important transportation center for the country.
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According to the 2014 census, the city has a population of 362,000 – making it the second largest city in the country in terms of urban population. The city has an area of 452 km², which in turn makes it the 3rd largest city in the country. The name of the city is in the Maori language Te Fenua o Te Potiki-Tautahi (Maori Te Whenua o Te Potiki-Tautahi), but the abbreviated name Otautahi (Maori Ōtautahi) is much more common.
Christchurch and surrounding areas have a temperate climate with summer temperatures (December-February) of +15 °C to +25 °C and winter temperatures (June-August) of +5 °C to +15 °C . At night in winter, the air temperature can drop below 0 ° C. Due to the peculiarities of the city location in winter, the overall air pollution background in the city increases noticeably, which, although not comparable with similar problems in large industrial cities of other countries, is nevertheless significantly higher than in other New Zealand cities.
Sightseeing usually begins at the Holiday Inn City Centre Christchurch, which is located in the heart of the city. It in turn united in a harmonious ensemble Botanical Gardens, Cathedral Square, Orana Wildlife Park.
Undeniably, Christchurch Cathedral is considered the cherry on the tour cake. Inside you’ll find a series of paintings celebrating the history of the Anglican Church and New Zealand’s bishops, amazing stained glass windows, and stunning views of the city’s beauty from the balconies. In Latimer Square, the Christchurch Club, an elegant wooden building in the Italian Renaissance style, is curious. The Canterbury Museum is also nestled here, delighting in its rich collections of materials on the city’s colonial past, wood carvings and paintings illustrating the history of Antarctic exploration.
Cathedral Square, Barbados Street Catholic Church, Government House, Worcester Street Arts Center, Antarctica Museum, Historical Museum, and Littleton Maritime Gallery are Christchurch’s must-sees.
Other great attractions include the Zoo and Aquarium on Beach Road, Hagley Park, and the cable car up Mount Cavendish for a panoramic view of the city. Finish your walk on the old streetcar, whose route wraps around the city.
Hagley Park boasts trees imported from all over Europe. Here’s where the cricket and golf courses are, in the process giving you a true taste of England. There are paths for horseback riding in the midst of fragrant alleys. A beautiful view opens from the Bridge of Remembrance, which is on the south of the city, erected in memory of New Zealanders who died during World War I.
And in Victoria Square there is a statue of Queen Victoria painted in green and a statue of Captain Cook, which tourists love to take pictures with.
Nearby is the world’s first tunnel (2.4 km long) between Christchurch and Littleton Harbour, built straight through the volcano’s crater. Natural attractions include Orana Park Wildlife Trust, Willowbank Wildlife Refuge, and Lake Elesmere.
Of other suburban “goodies”: the suburb of Acaroa, a 20-minute drive from downtown, a picturesque sandy beach bordered by airy French patisseries and restaurants. And of course, Volcanic Wunderflites, a fantastic airplane tour over the volcanoes and mountains of the South Island. Cost ranges from NZ$70 to NZ$480 ($30 to $220). Sunseekers can add 2-3 unforgettable days of beach vacations in the Fiji Islands to the program.
How to get there
A nearby seaport and international airport make Christchurch an important transportation hub. The flight to any other New Zealand resort takes 18-20 hours with a change of plane in Tokyo or Seoul and the average cost of the ticket is $1650 for a round trip.
Christchurch is the central settlement of Canterbury in the South Island. The name was given to it by immigrants from Europe, and it translates as “church of Christ.” But among the Maori people it is known by a more pompous name, Te Fenua O Te Potiki-Tautahi. However, more often the Aborigines call it more succinctly Otautahi.
The first settlements in this area of New Zealand appeared long before the Victorian Christchurch: according to historians, the first aboriginal tribes settled here in the XIII century.
In 1848, the Canterbury Association was formed in England under the leadership of Archbishop Sumner of Canterbury. Its members saw their mission as the establishment of an Anglican colony on New Zealand’s South Island. This is when the future city got its name, although construction of houses and fortifications did not begin until 1850.
In 1856 the settlement became a city, and in 1863 its inhabitants and visitors could use the country’s first passenger railroad. However, the residents of Christchurch have repeatedly witnessed an earthquake. In 2011, it was the strongest since 1931. 185 people died in it.
How to get to the city?
If you like sea travel, you can get to the city aboard a cruise ship. The local seaport, located near downtown in the satellite town of Littleton, is considered the second-largest in the country in terms of passenger and cargo turnover.
Since Christchurch has an international airport, getting here by air is also easy. The city has regular flights between all major cities in New Zealand. You can also get tickets on any of the regular flights to Tokyo, Brisbane, Gold Port, Dubai, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Nandy, Singapore, and Bangkok. The flight to this locality from Europe takes from 18 to 20 hours with a necessary change in Seoul or Tokyo. When planning your trip, also take into account that the time in Christchurch differs from Greenwich by 12 hours, and in summer by 13 hours, so you should certainly take a rest when you arrive.
In addition to traditional township cabs that get you to even the most remote corners of the city, there are several Metro buses and even one old streetcar line in the center of town. A streetcar ride is perfect for travelers who want to experience the unique beauty of Christchurch.
Nature and Climate
The site of the city was very well chosen: it is located on the Canterbury Plain, in the central part of the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island. There has never been a shortage of drinking water, as the town is close to where the Heathcote and Avon rivers flow into Pegasus Bay.
The town enjoys a temperate maritime climate. The temperature during the summer (from December to February) remains very comfortable, ranging from +15 to +25 degrees. In the winter (June-August) it drops and is in the range of +5 – +15 degrees. During the winter period at night the thermometer column can sometimes fall below 0 degrees. Snow falls here very rarely, mostly in the suburbs on the hills.
. It is located in the heart of the city, near the Avon River loop and near Hagley Park. The Botanical Garden was founded in 1853 and covers an area of 21 hectares. It is home to a wide variety of flora, both native and imported from Europe, South Africa, Asia, North and South America. The reserve is divided into several thematic areas: rose garden, aquatic garden, mountain garden, apothecary garden, eric and New Zealand plant gardens and greenhouse.
- The Cathedral Cathedral, located on Cathedral Square. This neo-Gothic style church was built in the second half of the 19th century. Unfortunately, after the 2011 earthquake, it requires an almost complete restoration from the ground up. Here behind the altar is a tall carved screen made of agathis wood. There are also many plaques and paintings in the cathedral commemorating the history of the Anglican Church and New Zealand bishops, but for security reasons the entrance to the cathedral is closed, it can be admired from outside.
- Orana Wildlife Park. In this open-air zoo, animals and birds are kept in conditions as close to their natural habitat as possible. It was established in 1976 and is located in an urban suburb, about 15 minutes from the airport. There are more than 70 animals from all over the world, including kiwis, otters, lions, tigers, monkeys, giraffes, meerkats, buffalo, Tasmanian devils, keas, turtles, etc., living at ease on 80 acres.
- Christchurch Club. This graceful wooden structure, designed in the Italian Renaissance style, can be seen in Latimer Square. Once upon a time, woolly magnates and large cattle ranchers gathered here for a cup of tea or something stronger.
. There is a rich collection of documents relating to the city’s colonial past, exquisite wooden carvings and paintings from which you will learn how the exploration of Antarctica took place.
- Museum of the Antarctic. It contains all documents and items related to research expeditions to the icy continent. It is famous for its unusual building made of glass and metal, whose forms resemble the curves of the nearby Avon River. The gallery was opened in 2003. Here you can see the work of the most talented artists from both New Zealand and other countries. The museum also holds books on British and New Zealand artists, dossiers on them, personal correspondence, etc.
- Funicular. You can take it to the top of Mount Cavendish Hill and admire the amazing panorama of the city. It has a collection of trees from almost all the countries of Europe. The park’s lanes are filled with aromatic scents, and there are horseback riding trails. Sports enthusiasts can explore the golf and cricket courses, which are available in large quantities here.
- The Bowl Sculpture. Its creator is the outstanding New Zealand sculptor Dawson. The monument is a giant inverted cone resembling an ice cream cone. It was installed in honor of the 150th anniversary of the city.
If you’re looking for adventure, you can ride the world’s first tunnel (it’s 2.4 km long) between Littelton and the town itself. It goes directly through the crater of the volcano. Beach lovers won’t be able to get away from the local beach, which is surrounded by restaurants and French patisseries. Here you can also book a twenty-minute flight over the town and mountains of the South Island, which will cost you NZ$200.
In January, there’s an international festival of street musicians, in February a festival of flowers and folk romances, and in July an arts festival. Don’t miss the popular Wigram Classics air show in late March and the splendid Canterbury Show in November, with its fairs, horse races and fashion shows. Christchurch is also recommended for sailing, surfing, fishing and skiing enthusiasts.
Some of the most famous restaurants in the city include Piko Piko, Art, Wigram Manor, Schwass, Tramway Restaurant, Pegasus Arms, and others. Here you can taste the national dishes, mostly made with the traditional favorite products of New Zealanders – pork, venison, lamb, chicken, beef, and fish. Be sure to try the local steaks, barbecue, and signature lamb in mint sauce, which are perfect with a delicious beer.
Hotels and Shopping
The city of Christchurch in New Zealand is famous for its wide range of hotels, from three- to five-star establishments. Room rates range from $70 to $150 per night. Staying in a hostel is several times cheaper – from $22 per night. The most popular hostels are Haka, Tranquil, and Point Break. Many budget hotels are quite cozy and even have underfloor heating.
There are a lot of antique stores in the Cathedral Square area where you can buy real art masterpieces. And if you’re looking for something cheaper, check out the Arts Centre, a local market where you can buy all sorts of goods, groceries, and souvenirs between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The Arts Centre is a great place for shopping. There’s also a lot of street performers in the Arts Centre.