Before my two friends and I visited Christchurch back in November last year, I was told that the city looked like a war zone. Due to the severe earthquakes that hit Christchurch back in 2010 and 2011, large parts of the city centre was destroyed, and not much has been rebuilt yet. Thus, it’s true that Christchurch in many ways looks like a war zone. And it’s hard not to be affected by what had happened back then.
However, there are still plenty of reasons to pay the biggest city on the South Island a visit. Today, Christchurch has become a cool and urban city where innovation and creativity are mixed with Old English style. And that makes the city a great destination for a few days. In this travel guide to Christchurch, I share what to see and do and where to eat, drink and shop in the New Zealand city.
We had two days to explore Christchurch, which I think is enough. However, if we had had more time, I would have loved to explore more of the surrounding areas and to do a Port Hills hike.
Look for street art in the city centre
Christchurch is known for its cool street art that decorates many walls all around the city centre. In tourist information spots, you can get a map that points out the most interesting ones but of course, you can also just go searching yourself. We found the lips mural on Peterborough St the most interesting artwork.
Ride the Christchurch Gondola
You will find the most stunning views of the Christchurch cityscape, the Canterbury Plains, the Southern Alps and the hills of the Banks Peninsula at the top of the Christchurch Gondola. It’s an absolute must visit even though the ride is quite expensive (28 NZD for adults). The gondola is located a little outside the city centre, but there is a shuttle bus that goes straight to the attraction several times per day from the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.
10 Bridle Path Rd, Heathcote Valley (www)
185 Empty White Chairs
I found one of the most interesting places in Christchurch the 185 Empty White Chairs that is an unofficial memorial for the 185 people who lost their lives during the severest earthquake that hit the city 22 February 2011. All the chairs are different from each other and symbolise the individuality and uniqueness of each person. At the moment, the installation is temporary, but the people of Christchurch work hard to make it permanent.
236 Cashel St, Christchurch Central (www)
One of my absolute favourite places to visit in Christchurch is the Re:Start Mall. It’s an outdoor mall built of containers that was made in the aftermath of the earthquakes to encourage people to come to the city centre again and as a way where the citizens of Christchurch could move on. Today, you can find several food stands, fashion brands and gift shops in the Re:Start Mall, and it’s definitely worth a visit.
76-100 Cashel St, Christchurch Central (www)
If you look for a proper Italian meal, Café Valentino is the place to go to. It’s a vibrant restaurant that serves a variety of classic Italian dishes, and especially their pasta dishes are highly recommendable. The restaurant is fairly big, but the atmosphere is surprisingly nice anyway.
168 St Asaph St, Christchurch Central (www)
Dimitris Greek Food
Dimitris Greek Food is a primitive food stand placed in the interesting Re:Start Mall. They are famous for their delicious souvlakis, and you will most likely experience that there is a queue outside. However, they are worth the waiting!
Dimitris Greek Food also has a food stand placed on 84a Riccarton Rd.
16 Plymouth Ln, Christchurch Central (www)
Everyday Dose is a cute little café that sells great coffee, juice, bread and pastries and salads. The place is nicely decorated, and there is a nice vibe inside. However, it’s fairly small, and there aren’t that many places to sit, so you might have to get your goods to go. Don’t forget to try their delicious cheese scones that taste heavenly.
44 Hereford St, Christchurch Central (www)
The Little High Eatery
A place you need to visit for dinner is the Little High Eatery. The Little High Eatery is a vibrant food hall that houses several restaurants with all types of food varying from Chinese and Japanese to Latin American and Italian. We tried a few different places, and I can highly recommend the burger spot Bacon Brothers, Base Woodfired Pizza and Eightgrains that serves proper Chinese dishes.
255 St Asaph St, Christchurch Central (www)
One of the most vibrant places in the city is Fat Eddie’s. They serve a variety of drinks and bar food that you can enjoy while listening to one of the many live bands that play daily. Jazz bands mostly play there but occasionally, other types of bands go on stage as well.
Level 1, 76 Hereford St, Christchurch Central (www)
Hapa is the nicest little design and gift shop that is placed in the Re:Start Mall. They sell a variety of accessories, jewellery, stationery, homeware and handcrafted goods etc., most of which are locally produced. It’s easy to spend a lot of time in there, and you will most likely be really tempted to buy a thing or two or the whole shop.
96 Oxford Tce, Christchurch Central (www)
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