Christchurch (CHC) New Zealand

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Flights to Christchurch

Christchurch International Airport, located 12kms from the city, is the air hub for South Island, serving around six million travellers a year. The airport hosts extensive domestic flights and several international routes to destinations such as Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, Singapore and Bangkok. Australian cites are well-served, with national flag carrier Air New Zealand offering flights to Sydney, Melbourne, the Gold Coast and Brisbane, Qantas flying to Sydney and its subsidiary JetStar covering the Gold Coast as well as Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Pacific Blue for Virgin also operates the same three routes, giving plenty of choice for travellers looking for the best fares. 

If you’re coming from one of the smaller Australian cities, many of which are served by JetStar, your flight might stop in Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney. Australian nationals arriving in New Zealand do not need a visa, nor do Australian residents holding a return entry visa or UK passport holders. Visitors in these categories are allowed to stay in New Zealand for six months. Other nationalities may be covered by the extensive visa waiver scheme, allowing a three-month stay on proof of an onward travel ticket and funds to cover the stay. 

Transportation to Christchurch from the airport is by three separate bus services #3, #10 and #29, as well as by various shuttle bus companies and taxi firms. A good way to travel on holiday is by hire car, easily arranged at the airport and giving visitors the choice of where and when to go over the course of the holiday. Car rental in Christchurch is cheaper than in many other South Island cities and towns. If you’re planning to explore the island’s remote beauties, it’s essential as long-distance buses and trains tend to only cover the better-known destinations, resorts, towns and cities. 

Christchurch: Overview

The wild beauty of New Zealand’s South Island has been a favourite with tourists for many years, with most arriving by air in the charming city of Christchurch. Most of the city and its green spaces are safe for visitors who wish to use it as a base for touring South Island, and its friendly people welcome visitors as warmly as before. 

Everything possible is being done to restore the city’s heritage sights and its famous city centre tramway, most of which are set around Cathedral Square, although several of its greatest historic buildings including the once magnificent Catholic and Anglican cathedrals may take many years to repair. Other attractions such as the Botanical Gardens remain peaceful places although several of its buildings are closed. 

The Air Force Museum is open, although the main Canterbury Museum may still be closed and the city’s Art Gallery as well as its historic Arts and Performance Centre complex is closed, awaiting structural reinforcement. The International Antarctic Centre is open, as is the Ferrymead Heritage Park. As regards accommodation, many of the bed-and-breakfast places, guest houses and smaller hotels are located away from the centre and are open for business. 

Christchurch lies in South Island’s Canterbury province and is well served with bus and rail transport options to nearby cities and places of natural beauty and interest, with its airport providing domestic routes for longer journeys. Canterbury province is mostly flat plains running from the Conway River to the magnificent Waitaki River in the south and stretching from the Pacific to the western ranges of the Southern Alps. Ever-popular tourism destinations here include Kaikura for its whale-watching and Otago and Southland for the popular resorts of Queensland, with its dramatic mountain backdrop and scenic lake, and Wanaka for Mount Aspiring National Park. 

Christchurch: Must See sites


Beautiful Beaches

For water sports fans and especially surfers, the beaches near Christchurch offer every facility, including beachside restaurants, pubs and cafes with magnificent ocean views. The best surfing, for its rip tides and strong waves, is at Taylor’s Mistake Beach, with Sumner and Waikuku beaches a close second. Popular year-round and set in picturesque bays, the sandy stretches are never overcrowded.

Christchurch Maori and Colonial Museum

Set in beautiful Okains Bay on the Banks Peninsula, this fascinating museum features many carefully preserved traditional Maori and colonial buildings together with a huge collection of antique artefacts giving visitors an insight into the early days of settlement in the region. 

Akaroa Museum

Set just outside the city in Akaroa, two historic colonial buildings, the Court House and Langlois-Eteveneaux House form the heart of the complex. Close by is the Custom House, built in 1852. The museum displays the colourful history of the Banks Peninsula and Arakoa.

Air Force Museum

New Zealand’s unique position as the gateway to the great white continent of Antarctica has led to Christchurch’s many international links to exploration of the vast, mysterious land. As well as a fine collection of historic aircraft, the museum features the Auster and Beaver planes used during the first years of Antarctic aviation. 

International Antarctic Centre

Nowadays, 75 per cent of Antarctica’s many research teams leave by air from the centre, located next door to Christchurch International Airport. For visitors, the complex is an exciting interactive introduction to the mysterious continent, with experiences including an Antarctic storm, an ice voyage, a penguin encounter and the thrilling Haggelund Ride. 

Orana Wildlife Park

An amazing open range sanctuary for mostly endangered species, located near the airport 25 minutes from the city centre, the park’s streams, banks, moats and natural scenery provide a conservation habitat for many species, including kiwis, giraffes, lions, cheetahs, white rhinos, zebras and meercats. Ostriches and many bird species can also be seen.


Christchurch Cruises

For nature-lovers, one of the best ways to see the coastal glories of Canterbury province and get a glimpse of the wide variety of flora and fauna is by cruising from Christchurch Harbour. Hector dolphins, whales, penguins and fur seals as well as many seabird species can be spotted along the southeastern coastline.  Boat trips including buffet lunches run to the Banks Peninsula and the nearby port towns of Kaikura and Akaroa. For something different, the evening dinner-dance cruises are great fun. 

Christchurch: When to go

Christchurch’s climate is recognised as ‘oceanic dry and temperate’, with daytime temperatures reaching a maximum of 22C in high summer and around 11C in July, the middle of winter. Northeastern sea breezes cool the air in summer and the city is occasionally visited by the hot ‘nor’wester’ föhn wind, sometimes at storm force strong enough to cause minor property damage. In winter, night-time lows reach below zero, with the calm, frosty conditions causing an inversion layer which traps pollution in the resulting smog. Winter is a great time for exploring the ski resorts in the soaring Southern Alps or nearby Mount Hutt and visiting Canterbury’s world-class wineries, with Christchurch still the gateway to South Island in spite of the tragedy. 
In summer, there’s no end to the outdoor opportunities on South Island and in Canterbury province. Golfers will love the first-class courses with stunning views, adventure tourists can bungy jump, ride a jet boat, go whitewater rafting, mountain-biking or take a scenic trip in a hot-air balloon, and surfers will be in their element. Nature-lovers and eco-tourists can enjoy whale and dolphin-watching or roam the botanic gardens, glorious nature reserves and protected areas of the countryside, from lush valleys through forested hills to dramatic mountain ranges. Visitors who love to laze have a choice of great beaches, hot spring spa resorts – one of the few advantages of a volcanic zone – or quietly fish in one of the province’s great rivers.
Self-drive arranged in Christchurch is the best way to travel around South Island, whatever time of year you’re visiting. Close to the city is Banks Peninsula, with its less dramatic but equally beautiful natural environment and coastline. Waipara is the wine region, producing some of the country’s finest wines, and Queenstown is the place for fast-moving, high-octane adventure tourism. A visit to the hot springs at Hanmer Springs will cure the aches and pains acquired in Queenstown’s pre-packaged activities. A relaxing way to see the coastline of South Island all year round is by a cruise from Christchurch’s port. There’s something for everyone in Canterbury province and the rest of South Island, whenever the holiday takes place. 

Today's currency rate

SGD 1.00 = NZD 1.078

Temperature average in December

9.9 - 21.3°C

Rainfall average in December

43.1 mm

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