New Zealand’s beloved South Island and the gateway to Canterbury, Christchurch is equally popular amongst nature lovers, thrill-seekers, wildlife-enthusiasts as well as architecture connoisseurs. Its diverse offerings coupled with the warm hospitality that the locals exhibit makes it one of the best places in New Zealand for the visitors.
If you find yourself in Christchurch for the first time, here are top attractions that you must visit for an entertaining and educating stay:
Punting on the Avon River
Enjoy the ‘Garden City’ of Christchurch in a laid-back fashion during a punting session on the Avon River. As you start your journey from the historic Antigua Boat Shed, your mind will be at ease and senses pleased with stunning views of the willows and leafy banks of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. As your experienced punter dressed in traditional Edwardian attire navigates your handcrafted flat bottomed boat slowly, you will find yourself spending the most peaceful 30 minutes of the day. The experience is a ‘must-have’ for romance-seekers and honeymooners.
Family travellers have a great chance at exploring the rich cultural and natural heritage of New Zealand at the Canterbury Museum. Home to rare Maori artefacts among other prized possessions from the early years of human civilisation, the trip to the museum will be of special interest to history and architecture enthusiasts. The Discovery section of the museum has been designed to make it appealing to children and young visitors whereas the Antarctic section contains art objects shedding light on the history and life on the continent and attracts visitors of all ages. The museum remains open from 9am – 5pm from April – September and 9am – 5.30pm between October and March.
An attraction you can’t miss, Christchurch Gondola offers breathtaking sightseeing opportunities from almost 500 metres above the sea level. From the summit, 360 degree views of the Canterbury Plains to the high peaks of the Southern Alps as well as Banks Peninsula, Lake Ellesmere and Lyttelton Harbour can be enjoyed. The excitement of riding the gondola continues well till you visit the Time Tunnel on the top, an automated ride that features a smouldering volcano, a native forest and history of early settlements of Christchurch. The Red Rock cafe at the top takes care of refreshment needs after a thrilling ride.
Exploring Christchurch on its historic trams is essential for any complete exploration of the city. Running along the city centre through the popular attractions such as the Cathedral Square, the Botanic Garden, Canterbury Museum as well as the main shopping areas, the tramway is great way to just sit back and observe the local life as the sights around you keep changing. There are a total of 17 stops on the tramway and you can get off at any place you like with your ticket all through the day. The trams are operational from 9am-6pm in summer months and from 10am-5pm during winters.
Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise
If you are in mood for a drive, head towards the historic French Village of Akaroa, just 90 minutes outside Christchurch. A cruising tour upon its stunning harbour will reward you with sights of extinct volcanic craters, beautiful scenery as well as playful NZ native dolphin – the Hector’s Dolphin. You can also spot White Flippered Blue Penguin, the smallest penguin in the world as well as New Zealand Fur Seals among other rare animals here.