The historic city of Christchurch has long been a stronghold for New Zealand culture and art, and these days, the South Island hub is as bustling and vibrant as ever. With its tourist appeal only heightened thanks to the post-quake rebuild, Christchurch has enjoyed a holistic rejuvenation both in terms of architecture and local attractions, making a weekend trip to the city a wonderful idea year-round. Even better, many of the city sights listed below are totally free, meaning you’ll be able to canvas the best attractions in Christchurch without draining your funds.
Visit one of Canterbury’s stunning beaches
From Corsair Bay to Sumner Beach, New Brighton pier to Akaroa, Waikuku Beach to Woodend – there’s certainly no shortage of spectacular beaches near Christchurch.
Located just a short drive from the City Centre, Sumner Beach is home to some of the cities coolest cafes and restaurants and is a popular swimming spot in the summer months.
Whether you fancy a cool-off swim in the summer or a brisk walk along the sand in the winter, Canterbury offers a bevvy of beaches that you don’t need to spend a penny to enjoy.
Don’t miss out on the city’s art galleries
Christchurch has always punched well above its weight in the realm of international art, and its commitment to contemporary art is proven by its top-quality galleries and institutions. The Christchurch Art Gallery is an obvious must-see, boasting an excellent collection of New Zealand and international art. With its industrial space and cutting-edge exhibitions, the Jonathan Smart Gallery in Sydenham is among the most influential Christchurch Contemporary art galleries, exhibiting both established and upcoming talent.
Wander through the Christchurch Botanic Gardens
Occupying 30 hectares of lush green space, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens are among the best in New Zealand and are beautifully maintained for the public’s enjoyment. Whether you’re a gardening aficionado or simply like being surrounded by nature, you sure enjoy the variety of flora and fauna on offer. What’s better, the Gardens make the perfect mid-day picnic spot if you’ve got kids, with a group of thematic gardens and a playground to entertain the little ones.
Take in some history at the Canterbury Museum
After you’ve enjoyed a stroll through Botanic Gardens, take a short walk to the nearby Canterbury Museum, another of Christchurch’s leading tourist attractions. Located in a stone building designed in the distinctive style of the Gothic Revival, the museum was established way back in 1867, making it even luckier that the architecture has survived the recent earthquakes. With ongoing exhibitions about the Antarctic, Asian art, bird life, local history, and much more, there’ll be something to interest everyone – and with the museum regularly hosting free talks, events, and tours, you won’t find it hard to spend a few hours in rapture. Moreover, of course, entrance is free (although small donations are much appreciated!).
Explore Christchurch’s New CBD
As Christchurch’s ongoing rebuild effort evinces, tragedy always breeds hope. New Zealanders and tourists alike will find the changes wrought on the city by the recent earthquakes both touching and inspiring, with every sign of ruin matched by the creation of new buildings and institutions. Driving around the CBD will show you just how far the city has come since 2011, with new shops, café’s and restaurants opening up at a frantic pace, while award-winning Architecture changes the city’s skyline. Walking around the ever-developing Re: START Mall will acquaint you with the city’s new retail experience, whilst a visit to the Transitional Cathedral – perhaps better known as the “Cardboard Cathedral” – will introduce you to the architectural innovation that has come out of disaster.
About the Author
Angela Hallberg is Marketing Manager for Omega Rental Cars, a trusted supplier of Christchurch Airport rental cars. With a passion for travel, and years spent in the New Zealand tourism industry as a travel agent, tour organizer and incentive travel specialist, she loves to help others discover all the best things to see and do in her home country. Sharing local knowledge, feedback from Omega Rental Cars customers, and actively seeking information on activities and attractions, Angela can help you plan an itinerary to maximize your time in New Zealand.