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Your Getaway Guide to Christchurch

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Planning a short break or a few days with the family in Christchurch? Rediscover a city once famed for its well-groomed gardens, now going places with a vibrant rebuild, great eateries and fun attractions.  The city is still green and beautiful, but this gateway to the South has blossomed into an exciting creative destination, since the transformative 2011 earthquake. Here’s our guide on the top ten things to do in Christchurch.  

Number one is to head for the Christchurch Gondola, an 862-metre cable car ride up the side of Mt Cavendish, for spectacular 360-degree views of the city, the plains, the Southern Alps, Lake Ellesmere and the Pacific Ocean. If you’re keen on stretching your legs, take the scenic track down the Bridle Path Walk, back to the gondola carpark.    

Tick off number two and three on your list by heading into town.  Stroll through the Christchurch Botanic Gardens to discover the finest collection of exotic and native plants in the country before dropping into the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch locals are so justifiably proud of. With free entry, kids will love climbing through the moa cave, digging for fossils, visiting the paua house and walking ‘back in time’ down an old Christchurch street (complete with horse and penny farthing cycle!) 

By now you’re probably feeling peckish. So, amble down to pedestrian mall New Regents Street (our number four destination) to sample some of the best restaurants in Christchurch and the street’s 1930’s style Spanish Mission architecture. Pick up a quick bite, like the whitebait fritters at Café Stir or dine at the top-rated Twenty-Seven Steps (visitors rave about their aged beef fillet with hasselback potatoes). If it’s coffee you’re hankering after, drop into The Caffeine Laboratory or indulge yourself with a late-afternoon cocktail at The Last Word or The Institution. 

Activities five, six and seven on our list will delight both young and old. The excellent Margaret Mahy playground, named after the famous children’s author, is tucked alongside the Avon River and one of the fun stops on the Christchurch Tram’s route. The playground features a double flying fox, large slides, colourful climbing frames, even a splash pad (and for the big kids, great food and coffee trucks on the weekend). 

Want to cool off? Then head to the thrilling International Antarctic Centre Christchurch near the airport, to play in the snow at replica Scott Base, hang out with little Blue Penguins and hop on a rugged Hagglund ride. You’ll feel like an intrepid explorer! 

No trip to Christchurch would be complete without reflecting on local life before and after the February 2011 earthquake. In one afternoon, it changed the city forever. The Quake City exhibition, the 185 White Chairs Memorial and the Cardboard Cathedral are all excellent yet sobering reminders of the resilience and strength of the local Cantabrians and their determination to rebuild a world-class city.  Lest we forget. Which is why the Quake-themed experiences need to make your ‘things to do Christchurch’ top ten list.  

For advice, a city map or tour recommendations, please ask your Bella Vista Christchurch team for help. We’re here to make your visit a treasured memory.