Discover yourself amidst Christchurch’s urban and natural charms.
Many of us are surely looking forward to being able to discover another part of the world again, once it’s safe to travel freely - to experience a different environment and a different culture. While the outdoors is a great place to rediscover the joy of travelling, we can also do so with arts and culture. If you’re looking for a destination that offers both, Christchurch, New Zealand is your answer. It is an urban experience to reconnect you with your artistic passion, and a basecamp to launch yourself into the wilderness of your soul.
The oldest city in New Zealand, Christchurch is located on the east of the South Island in the district of Canterbury. It is known as the "Garden City" because of its beautiful parks, gardens and tree-lined streets. Travelling around Christchurch is straightforward, with a bus network connecting the urban areas to the surrounding suburbs and a tram system that circles the central city area.
If you plan to spend time in the city itself, do enjoy its thriving arts and culture scene. Home to the country’s experimental music scene, it is host to the city’s biggest international music festival - the Electric Avenue Music Festival. This annual summer event is held at Hagley Park, usually in February. The park is popular for winding down after a long day, especially along the scenic Lake Victoria, and is considered the heart of the city, where the national memorial service for the victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings was held.
Christchurch is also home to The Court Theatre, a focal point for local performing arts. A premier venue for touring productions, the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Jersey Boys is one of the shows to catch here in the near future. Meanwhile, the city’s New Regent Street is considered the country’s most beautiful street - a little lane of bold pastel colours lined with fairy lights and cute balconies that takes you back to the 1930s. The tram even goes right through it, so you can enjoy its sights and sounds on the move. However, if you prefer, take it slow and enjoy it for a whole day - savour lunch at The Caffeine Laboratory (famous for their coffee, chips, and doughnuts), enjoy a cosy date night at the charming Thai eatery, The Nook, and then head to the iconic Isaac Theatre Royal, a beautifully restored heritage theatre for a live show.
If you’re looking to relax instead, visit the lush Hurunui district. Only a 90-minute drive from Christchurch, its best destination is arguably the famous Hanmer Springs alpine spa village. There are outdoor trails, ski and snowboarding in the winter for the adrenaline seeker, or you can choose to go hunting or fishing. Other activities include spa and retail therapy, as well as a huge range of family activities from miniature golf to llama tours. If you have time to spare enjoying water rides, get to the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa where the kids can enjoy the water slides while the adults can soak in the thermal pools.
For more natural wonders, drive two hours up further north to watch whales, or swim with dolphins and see albatrosses at Kaikoura. You might also want to stargaze at the sky over the famous Aoraki Mount Cook, perhaps from right outside your cabin in Glentanner Park, where the sky glows golden from the sprinkling of stars that appear more visible, being far away from the city lights. These are bound to either set your heart racing with excitement or peace out from the calm and tranquillity of New Zealand’s majestic outdoors.
Christchurch has a bit of everything, such as Instagram-worthy attractions like Antigua Boat Sheds, a historic building where you can enjoy teatime at its cafe, or rent a kayak or join a boat to see the Botanical Gardens from the river; the Riverside Market where you can savour dishes made from local produce; street art all over the city including the giant spray cans at Rauora Park; as well as breathtaking sights such as the Pacific sunset at New Brighton Pier, the country’s biggest ocean pier. Whatever you do in Christchurch, it will be a journey of self-discovery as you experience its nature, culture and the arts scene.