Check out our most recent blog post about what is open in Christchurch since the earthquakes.
New Zealand is known for its outdoor adventures: for glaciers and fjords, volcanoes and pristine beaches. And while New Zealanders do love to be outside, the fact is that most of us live in developed urban areas.
Living in cities doesn’t mean we spend all our time in air-conditioned shopping malls and enjoy your time in Christchurch, like a true Cantabrian.
For most of us, the weekend starts on Friday afternoons. Pick up some sandwich fillings, fresh bread and snacks in town and wander around the Botanic Gardens until you find the perfect picnic spot (there are some nice ones by the river, just be prepared to share with the ducks).
After dinner, head east, into the heart of town for some live music. SOL Square (which stands for South of Litchfield – conveniently describing the address) is a mainstay of the nightclub scene. The square features trendy bars and restaurants set hidden behind industrial brick buildings. You can definitely spend an evening bar-hopping here.
Arts Centre Craft Market
Walk off the remnants of last night at the Arts Centre craft market. Wander past the handmade jewellery, crafts, delicious ice creams and don’t miss out the fudge cottage. If the smell of the fried food is too much for you, catch a bus or drive to Lyttelton for the crisp, fresh aroma of the weekly farmer’s market.
Lyttelton Farmer’s Market
Once you’ve stocked up on fresh fruits and veggies (you know you’ll want a snack later in the afternoon), wander around Lyttelton’s hip main street. Pop into one of the many cafes for a latte and a sandwich. Lyttelton Coffee Company offers a great view from the back porch.
Hiking in the Port Hills
If you took a bus, strap your hiking boots on and get trekking over the Port Hills to Sumner Beach. The paths are well marked, though it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have a map. The hike should take about 4 hours.
If you drove yourself to the harbour, you’re in for a treat. Take Sumner Road out of Lyttelton and then detour to the left when it intersects with Summit Road. Park at one of the lots off the main road for a scenic walk to burn off your lunch. Mountain bike trails are also plentiful, so definitely bring your bike. Once you’ve fully exhausted yourself, drive down into Sumner.
Fish & Chips on Sumner Beach
There should still be a few hours of sunlight left for you to enjoy this charming little beach town. Cool off in the temperate ocean, lie out on the sand and climb up Cave Rock (if you still have the energy!). When hunger strikes, pick up a package of fish and chips to enjoy by the beach. An ice cream cone while the sun sets is the perfect dessert.
If it’s not quite bedtime, catch a film at Sumner’s 70 year-old cinema—the only one of its kind still standing in Christchurch.
Beautiful Akaroa the French Colony
The last day of the weekend is popular for a day trip as we try to cram in a vacation before we have to head back to work. Akaroa is a good choice, since it is close enough for a day trip but worlds away from what we’re used to in Christchurch.
Known as New Zealand’s French colony, Akaroa isn’t exactly what most people would consider ‘French’, but it’s still awfully charming. Take a relaxing stroll down the Rue Lavaudor park yourself on a scenic bench with a book. Akaroa is a relaxing town you won’t realise you are only an hour drive from Christchurch.
Akaroa Cafes and Restaurants
There are plenty of boutique cafes and restaurants for lunch. Check out a few menus and choose whatever looks good. With an abundance of restaurants serving French cuisine, this may be the only taste of France you get in New Zealand.
Enjoy an incredible experience swimming with the worlds smallest and rarest dolphins. Hector’s dolphins are protected in the Akaroa harbour by a marine mammal sanctuary and this cruise gives you the chance to see them up close.
Akaroa – Relax, Shop and Enjoy
The morning will be spent in lovely Akaroa. Take time out to read a book on a bench overlooking the harbour. Treat yourself to an ice cream and take a walk up the jetty at the gorgeous shops including the famous pearls from Akaroa.
Cruise on Akaroa Harbour
In the afternoon, hope on board a Black Cat cruise for a stunning tour of Akaroa Harbour. You’ll get a great look at the marine wildlife that makes its home in the area including fur seals, penguins and the tiny Hector’s dolphin.
Barry’s Bay Cheese Factory
Drive back to Christchurch on the shuttle or your rental car and make sure you stop in to pick up some award winning cheese from Barry’s Bay Cheese factory. These are produced with some of the finest milk from the pastures of the Banks Peninsula.
We hope you enjoy your stay in Christchurch and have seen many of the wonderful Christchurch attractions.