We have decided to call Christchurch our home for the coming year. It is the largest city on New Zealand’s South Island, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way. Christchurch has a very serene atmosphere with beautiful parks, a calm meandering river and a city center with very little traffic. We spend our first week here walking in and around the city center a lot. Whether you’re visiting for a few days on your way to the great wilderness or you’re planning to move here like us, here’s our one-day highlights itinerary when exploring Christchurch by foot.
Christchurch is also known by the Kiwis as the Garden City of New Zealand, and you’ll quickly learn why. Bordering the city center to the West lies the huge urban Hagley Park, which is the perfect place to exercise or catch up on your favorite books. We entered the park via a small bridge near Salisbury Street and walked our way down along the Avon River. The park is well maintained and exceptionally pretty during spring, as many trees blossom into beautiful colours. During the summer months (December to February) North Hagley park also hosts some amazing events, such as the South Island Food & Wine Festival, the Night Noodle Markets and a wide variety of live music acts.
Situated at the heart of Hagley Park, you will find the Christchurch Botanic Gardens home to many exotic plants and trees. Do take your time exploring all the different gardens and enjoy the beauty of nature. Though it was hard to pick, our favorite were the New Zealand gardens and Heather gardens.
We continued our walk by exiting the Botanic Gardens next to the Canterbury Museum. The walk into town via Worcester is a good way to get a vibe of the city. Cute old-styled trams run back and forth the long street, which you can take as a good sightseeing option if walking is not your jam. On both sides you will find some historical buildings, some of which are unfortunately still heavily damaged by the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, such as the Christchurch Cathedral. Luckily some buildings do seem to have survived. Some of which function as a cool hub for local enterprises, (ice cream) bars and a visitors center. On the town square in front of the Christchurch Cathedral there’s a relaxed market with artisans selling all sorts of woodcraft and jewelry. Fancy a cocktail or whiskey? Make sure to check out the speakeasy-styled OGB bar just behind the cathedral.
We followed the tramway down High Street. This street is full of international retailers and malls and in our opinion, not the most interesting part of the city. But later on we found some very exciting places, such as Strange & Co, Smash Palace for food and drinks and C1 Espresso for some good old flat whites. Cool fact about C1 is that they do a lot of great things in terms of sustainability. They grow ingredients for their meals themselves and have a great planting programme in Samoa. Plus, they serve your delicious food down a chute!
After that we walked to the 185 White Chairs, a very impressive memorial that, we think, is definitely worth a visit. The artwork beautifully symbolizes the people that have tragically lost their lives during the earthquake in 2011.
One of the cutest streets in Christchurch has to be New Regent Street. It is one of the lucky streets that was left untouched by the earthquakes. Colourful yellow and green Spanish styled buildings make the street feel very lively and inviting. Here you will find many terraces, quirky bars and boutique restaurants such as Twenty Seven Steps. We can highly recommend!
Victoria Street is the place to be when the sun sets in Christchurch. Lots of (sports) bars to watch the All Blacks, funky restaurants, a big casino and the Victoria Clock Tower - which is always there to show you that it is really time to go home.
Explore the outer coast of Pohatu Marine Reserve and marvel at its spectacular towering cliffs, rock stacks, reefs, and deep sea caves. Observe the diverse wildlife and marine species such as penguins, seals, various sea birds and possibly the world’s smallest dolphin!