First 24 hours in Christchurch, New Zealand

Fresh delights, old glories and that amazing Kiwi scenery. Ellie Ross reacquaints herself with the inspiring city that has risen out of the earthquake rubble…

Team Wanderlust
02 May 2016

At the airport

Christchurch Airport is the South Island’s main hub, about 11km north-west of the city. There are no direct flights to Christchurch from the UK, but Air New Zealand flies London-Christchurch (via LA and Auckland). Flight time is around 30 hours. British citizens do not require a visa and can stay in the country for up to six months. In Arrivals there is an i-SITE info booth (open daily 8am-6pm) and ATMs.

Getting into town

A Super Shuttle bus is a good option while regular Metro Red Bus services also connect the airport to Christchurch. One-way tickets can be purchased from the driver.

Other ways to arrive

Essential Info

Population: 341,469
Language: English, Maori and New Zealand Sign Language
Timezone: GMT+13 (GMT+12 Apr-Sep)
International dialling code: +64
Visas: British passport holders can enter New Zealand as a visitor for up to six months on arrival without a visa.
Currency: New Zealand dollars (NZD). ATMs are widely available.
Highest viewpoint: The finest views are from the surrounding Port Hills, best explored on foot or mountain bike.

First day’s tour

Where to stay

Stay or go

While it’s worth dedicating a few days to exploring Christchurch, there’s a lot going on around the outskirts and further afield. Start with mountain biking through the nearby Port Hills, a rewarding way to get great views across the Canterbury Plains. Lyttelton Harbour, where the settlers from Europe landed in the 19th century, is also well worth visiting. Get around via Natural High, which offers guided tours (meeting you at your hotel) and bike hire.

A 20-min drive east, surfers can catch a wave at Sumner Beach, a spot with good restaurants and an art-house cinema. Surfboard hire.

A little further out is Akaroa, a harbourside town on Banks Peninsula, where you can swim with the rare and endemic Hector’s dolphin. If you don’t fancy getting wet, a range of other boat tours are also on offer, where you can spot penguins, seals and orca.

Main Image: Restored tram in Christchurch’s Cathedral Square, New Zealand (Shutterstock)

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