Located on the South Island of New Zealand and the oldest city in the country, Christchurch is a national tourist centre, combining a relatively long history with culture and entertainment.

Named after its own Christ Church Cathedral and also Christ Church in Oxford, archaeological evidence suggests that moa-hunting tribes resided here as early as 1250. However, legend states that the Waitaha tribe migrated from the North Island in the 16th century, maintaining control of the settlement until the Ngai Tahu takeover. It was only in the early 19th century that the first European settlers arrived, the English Weller Brothers, and set about developing the site. Established as a city in 1856, Christchurch flourished culturally thereafter and proved an area of historical importance, being the departure point for Ernest Shackleton and Robert Falcon Scott’s Antarctic explorations.

Today 'the Garden City' prides itself on tourism and, with plenty to see and do in the city and the surrounding regions, it’s easy to understand why.


Unsurprisingly found in front of Cathedral Square, the Christ Church Cathedral is the most important building in the city. Designed by George Gilbert Scott and the famous New Zealand architect Benjamin Montfort, it was started in the late 19th century but only completed in 1904. Now the Cathedral stands as a fantastic example of neo-Gothic architecture, juxtaposed alongside an impressive 63 metre high spire.

Montfort’s Gothic designs dominate much of Christchurch and a further example of his work is the current Christchurch Arts Centre, the cultural hub of the city with galleries, theatres and cinemas.

You cannot visit Christchurch without seeing the International Antarctic Centre near the airport. A hugely popular, national attraction, the Centre contains activities like the 'Indoor Snow & Ice Experience' (recreating the Antarctic), snowmaking and the exhilarating outdoor Hagglund Ride, as well as a series of galleries and museums.

Established in 1863 and now some 30 hectares in size, the Christchurch Botanical Gardens are one of the oldest and most beautiful areas of interest in the city. Stretching even further back, the Hayley Park was founded in 1855 and also contains a set of rival botanical gardens.

As part of New Zealand, nature figures prominently in Christchurch’s culture. The Willowbank Natural Reserve and the Orana Wildlife Park are two of the most popular attractions in the city. However, the Ferrymead Heritage Park is also worth a visit.

The main gallery in the city is the Christchurch Art Gallery in Worcester Boulevard. Newly opened since 2003, it contains a permanent collection of historical and contemporary art works as well as temporary exhibitions.

Cricket and rugby union are the two dominant sports in Christchurch. The local cricket team play their games at Jade Stadium, which is also a New Zealand cricket Test venue. In rugby union, the Crusaders represent the city in the Super 14 competition, while Canterbury RFU competes in the Air New Zealand Cup.


Christchurch plays host to a number of markets, including the Art, Craft & Produce Market at the Arts Centre and the Riccarton Rotary Sunday Market on the Racecourse Road.

The premier place to shop in the city is the Westfield Riccarton Mall on Riccarton Road.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Christchurch is awash with restaurants providing the best in 'Pacific Rim' cuisine, mixing European and Asian influences. The Heritage OGB Restaurant, the Dux de Lux in the Arts Centre and Hay’s in Victoria Street are just some of the many great establishments.

There are international alternatives like Greek at Santorini in Gloucester Street.

The city has a wide range of pubs like The Den Bar on Deans Avenue, as well as bars like C1 on High Street. For clubs, try Oxford Terrace, Hereford Street and Colombo Street.

For something a little more relaxed, the Court Theatre can be found on Worcester Boulevard and the Westpac Centre is the city’s main music and performance venue.

Tourist Information

Christchurch And Canterbury Visitor CentreOld Chief Post Office BuildingCathedral SquareChristchurchTel: +64 (0)3 379


Christchurch is served by Christchurch International Airport, roughly 9 km from the city centre. A bus service runs regularly to the heart of Christchurch.

Domestic connecting flights are available along with international flights, predominantly to Australian locations.