Day 1 in Christchurch
Welcome to Christchurch! Upon arrival at the airport, you will go through customs and immigration. Should you opt to purchase a transfer to your hotel; a representative will be waiting for you as you exit immigration. Arrive at your hotel, check in and do not give in to jet lag! There is so much for you to see and do!
We recommend you get acquainted with the city by taking the optional hop-on-hop-off city loop tram tour which takes passengers around the heart of the city stopping at 17 different locations including the Canterbury Museum and the Botanic Gardens. Hop-off at the Botanic Gardens which is a beautiful scenic area to admire in the `Garden City`. The gardens are filled with abundant greenery and flourishing blooms with a café on site where you can grab some lunch. Continue your explorations to the Canterbury Museum which can be reached by walking through the gardens.
The Canterbury Museum is one of the city`s most popular attractions and entrance to this amazing museum is free. The beautiful historic building dates back to 1870 and is renowned for its natural and human history collections. Check out the bones of a mummy and dinosaur found in the museum and the Discovery Center which is perfect for the kids. Stop into the Café located on the 4th floor for a snack and refreshments and take in the spectacular views over the magical gardens below.
Make your way to the historic Cathedral Square set in the heart of the city where the iconic Christ Church Cathedral stands which is now temporarily known as the Cardboard Cathedral due to damage from the earthquakes that devastated this area of Christchurch. The bustling square is filled with street art, street entertainers and a multitude of cafes, restaurants, bars, and shops where you can grab dinner and drinks and then wander around the shops in search for the perfect souvenir.
Day 2 in Christchurch
Start your day with coffee and breakfast at one of the many quaint cafes located in Cathedral Square. Then visit some of the city`s galleries. The Christchurch Arts Center is housed in the former University of Canterbury which dates back to the 1800`s, there are 23 buildings in total some of which are still under construction from the 2011 earthquakes, but visitors can still view the buildings from outside.
Next, explore The Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu situated in the heart of the city. The gallery houses the country`s most important art collections in the largest art institution found on the South Island.
Head over to Cashel Street where the unusual Re:START container mall, local businesses set up this unique shopping area after many of their buildings were destroyed during the earthquakes. The stores are uniquely housed in re-purposed shipping containers decorated with vibrant colors and unusual layouts. Grab a bite to eat here at one of the many food stalls and take a walk around this quirky area.
Spend the rest of your afternoon exploring the city`s largest green space in Hagley Park, this large urban space covers over 400 acres in the `Garden City`. Take a walk around this beautiful parkland boasting miles of tree-lined paths along the Avon River. The park is the host to many outdoor events held throughout the year including concerts and circuses.
Take a romantic cruise with `Punting on the Avon`, this iconic attraction takes passengers on a memorable 30-minute ride on board a flat-bottomed boat. The boat is guided by your own personal punter dressed in Edwardian attire. Float past grassy banks and blooming gardens whilst the punter points out historic sites and shares interesting information on the city.
As evening time approaches check out some of the newly revived venues in the city since the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes the city of Christchurch has been evolving and offers a dynamic and diverse nightlife scene. Enjoy dinner at one of the fabulous restaurants in the city center, visit the `Revival Bar` or the Christchurch Casino. You can even take in a show at The Court Theatre showcasing some amazing local talent in plays such as Grease. The area around the theatres also offers a good variety of restaurants and bars for a good night on the town.
Day 3 in Christchurch
Start your day early with a hearty breakfast and head out to the spectacular coastline just a few hours journey along the Banks Peninsula. The charming seaside town of Akaroa is lined with quaint cottages resembling the area`s deep English and French roots. Akaroa is the oldest town found in Canterbury, discovered by the French settlers in 1840. Here visitors can experience some of the best marine wildlife in the region where sightings of the penguin colonies and the rare Hector Dolphins which are some of the smallest yet friendliest dolphins in the world. There are many boat excursions offered in the area where you can swim and meet with the playful pods.
This spectacular scenic region is made up of several different bays including Hickory Bay, Governor`s Bay, and Pigeon Bay. Explore the picturesque surroundings of Pigeon Bay which sits on emerald green waters flanked by verdant rolling hills, visit working farms and dine on freshly caught seafood while enjoying the breathtaking scenery.
Make your way to The Ferrymead Heritage Park Museum, a re-created Edwardian town featuring restored cottages, a schoolhouse and horse and carriage rides. If you are visiting Ferrymead on a weekend enjoy a ride on the tram, or `Steam Sunday` with a ride on the steam trains. Ferrymead was the site of the first railway that opened in New Zealand back in 1863.
Next, glide up the side of the Port Hills to the summit of Mt Cavendish on the scenic Christchurch Gondola. Once at the summit which stands 1,460 feet above sea level enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding area including the Southern Alps. Learn about the Heritage Time Tunnel on the Time Tunnel ride, grab a souvenir from The Shop at the Top and enjoy a tasty dinner at The Red Rock Café while enjoying the magnificent views.
Alternatively, in the evening time spend the evening at the Tamaki Heritage Village and learn about the Maori culture which dates back over 180 years and savor a traditional four-course hangi dinner.
Additional Days in Christchurch
Should you be able to spend additional days in Christchurch visit the stunning Lake Pukaki the largest of three lakes in the Mackenzie Basin. The distinctive blue hue of the water is created by glacial flour from the glaciers in the area. Mountains such as Mount Cook which is the tallest peak in the region surround these stunning lakes providing visitors with a stunning environment for hiking and walking as well as star gazing. This is also the region where the Hobbit Trilogies were filmed.
On the shores of Lake Tekapo is The Church of the Good Shepherd, a truly charming sight that attracts visitors from all over the world. It was the first church to be built in the Mackenzie Basin as a memorial to the pioneers. The views from this iconic church of the spectacular surrounding Southern Alps is simply breathtaking and a photographers dream.
The Willowbank Wildlife Reserve is a great attraction to see the native kiwi birds along with tuatara`s, wallabies and the only pair of rare Takahe on the South Island. Learn about the natural bush surroundings and the deep Maori culture.
The International Antarctic Center is a world-class experience, home to the New Zealand, United States and Italian Antarctic Programs. this attraction takes visitors through many unique experiences including an indoor snow and ice storm, a ride on the Hagglund ATV and visits with the little blue penguins. A café, bar and gift shop can be found on site.
Your last day in Christchurch
Depart from your hotel to the airport for your return flight home. We recommend that you purchase a private transfer to the airport if so the representative will meet you at your hotel with plenty of time to get you to the airport for your flight out.