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Top 5 things to do in Christchurch

Cyclists on Banks Peninsula christchurchnz.com
The Carboard Cathedral christchurchnz.com
Exploring the French village of Akaroa christchurchnz.com
The ReStart container mall christchurchnz.com

Top 5 things to do in Christchurch

story by: Tom Ricketts

Christchurch is the largest city on the South Island and an excellent year round destination. You could be surfing in the morning, skiing in the afternoon, and everything else in between. The quakes have ravaged the once beautiful city centre, but have a closer look and you might just find your new favourite cocktail bar in carpark basement, a unique fashion boutique in a shipping container, or a great meal from a converted bus. There’s regular flights to Christchurch from all over the country with Air New Zealand and Jetstar. What to do once there? Here’s our top five… 

Re:Start and Quake City
Situated in the once bustling Cashel Mall, the Re:Start container mall is a must for any visitor. Some of the city’s best known retailers have reopened in the temporary shopping precinct made of brightly painted shipping containers. The iconic Ballantynes department store are lucky enough to be in their pre quake premises next door, and a new restaurant and bar strip is being built. Here you'll also find Quake City, an exhibit that aims to educate visitors on what’s happened to Christchurch over the past few tumultuous years.

Akaroa
Less than two hours away on the edge of Banks Peninsula is the wonderful town of Akaroa. This small seaside village was settled by the French in 1840. It was originally intended that they would claim the area for France but with the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi earlier that year (but after the French had set sail), and after enduring months on the arduous journey around the world, the French decided to settle anyway. Today the village has retained its distinctly French theme with French street names, lovely little French cottages, and many French themed restaurants and businesses. Stay overnight in one of the many gorgeous B&B’s for a romantic weekend away.

Christchurch Gondola, the Bridle Path and Lyttelton
In Heathcote Valley where the city’s suburbs abruptly meet Banks Peninsula is a wonderful walking track for all the family. The Bridle Path climbs 400 metres up the hill and over to the port town of Lyttelton. It’s not particularly long, taking between 30 and 60 minutes depending on your fitness, but it is rather steep. The views from the top are amazing. Looking north is the city, the Canterbury Plains and the Southern Alps. On a clear day you can see across Pegasus Bay all the way to Kaikoura. And to the south you look down into an enormous volcanic crater which has been submerged and is now home to Lyttelton and the city's port. Get the gondola back down or head over to Lyttelton for lunch in one of the towns bohemian style restaurants. 

The Two Cathedrals
An international symbol of the quakes was the once proud ChristChurch Cathedral which lies in the heart of the city. Its dilapidated state and future will be debated about for years, but in the meantime the temporary Cardboard Cathedral has been constructed a few blocks away and is a wonderful alternative with an impressive stained glass window. 

The Cultural Precinct
Due west of Cathedral Square is a sector of the city known as the Cultural Precinct. Here you’ll find the historic Arts Centre whose neo-gothic stone buildings are gradually being repaired and reopened, the stunning glass fronted Christchurch Art Gallery and the excellent Canterbury Museum. The tram runs through here connecting the rest of the CBD, and the Botanic Gardens or Hagley Park are excellent spots for a picnic lunch. 




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