Heading to the Christchurch NZMCA Motorhome, Caravan & Leisure Show on 10-11 July? For a glimpse of what this beautiful city has on offer for motorhomers, we’ve listed some highlights.
AIR FORCE MUSEUM
The Air Force Museum of New Zealand is the national museum for the Royal New Zealand Air Force and New Zealand military aviation, and stands on the site of the former air base at 45 Harvard Avenue in Wigram. There is loads to see and do, including a Helicopter Fun Day for kids on 21 July. It’s open daily from 9.30am to 4.30pm. airforcemuseum.co.nz
From the spectacular summer roses to the cosy conservatories, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens is a delightful spot to visit at any time of the year. July is an especially good time to visit if you’re a fan of orchids. There’s a cafe and visitor centre on site too, so you can enjoy a bite to eat and a hot drink. ccc.govt.nz/parks-and-gardens
The Cardboard Cathedral, on the corner of Madras and Hereford streets, was built after Christchurch’s original Anglican cathedral was badly damaged in the 2011 earthquake. It is the only one of its kind in the world. Visitors can join a tour with a guide who will show you through and answer questions (there’s a $5 fee). Tours operate from Monday to Saturday. And for something to remember your visit by, the gift shop has a range of cathedral-related souvenirs.
Nestled in the busy business hub at 1005 Ferry Road, Woolston, Dispense Espresso cafe isn’t visible from the street, and its discreet signs don’t immediately catch your eye. But it’s worth hunting out. This cool cafe is well known for its delicious baked goods. Tempt yourself with a glazed blueberry donut, polenta marmalade cake, or a chocolate pear tart – all baked on site. Or for lunch, choose from the dine-in menu. And, of course, the coffee is excellent.
For a cheap and easy way to get around the city, hire an e-bike or e-scooter. There are two providers in Christchurch – Lime and Flamingo – with 1600 e-scooters and 200 e-bikes for public use. You’ll need to download an app for the provider you choose. All the instructions are in the app. ccc.govt.nz/transport/getting-to-work/shared-scooters-and-bikes
FERRYMEAD HERITAGE PARK
Go back in time with a visit to Ferrymead. The park features an early 1900s Edwardian township with a variety of restored cottages, a schoolhouse, church and businesses that reflect the period. Visitors can experience what life was like for early residents, including the smell of a coal range and the sounds of a tram rattling past the door. A large array of heritage exhibitions and displays are open for viewing, particularly on Sundays. You can also ride the tram at weekends and during school holidays. ferrymead.org.nz.
Take in the spectacular 360-degree city views while you enjoy a gondola ride up the Port Hills. The vistas span the snow-capped Southern Alps, sprawling Canterbury Plains and waters of Pegasus Bay and the Pacific Ocean. When you reach the top, stretch your legs on one of the walking tracks, visit the Summit Station and learn about local history on the Time Tunnel ride (entry is free with your gondola ticket), or find a souvenir at the gift shop. And for a bite to eat or a hot drink, stop in at the Red Rock Cafe. christchurchattractions.nz
Just 15 minutes from the central city in New Brighton, He Puna Taimoana hot pools offer a warming, relaxing retreat. There are five pools, each at a different temperature. They are right on the seafront, with four sessions daily between 10am and 5.30pm. Bookings are essential, so book online before you go. hepunataimoana.co.nz
If you love ice cream and gelato, then Rollickin Dessert Cafe on New Regent Street or Cashel Street should definitely be on your to-do list. You haven’t seen ice cream flavours quite like these before! For a special treat, try the Birthday Suit, with white chocolate gelato, gooey strawberry jam and vanilla sponge cake chunks. Or perhaps a Suzy Smore – choccy gelato loaded with marshmallow, chocolate chunks and crunchy bikkie crumbs. Check out the mouthwatering menu at rollickin.co.nz.
J’AIME LES MACARONS
And if you still need something sweet after your ice cream, head for J’aime Les Macarons at Merivale Mall. It’s impossible to walk past the storefront, with its dazzling rows of colourful, tempting macarons and cupcakes. Expect to find six of their most popular, classic flavours available at all times (you can’t go wrong with the Salted Butter Caramel or Bitter Chocolate), supported by seasonal and experimental offerings, such as Feijoa Custard Crumble or Sticky Date Pudding.
KIWI HOLIDAY PARK
Park up for the night at the Amber Kiwi Holiday Park. Located at 308 Blenheim Road in Upper Riccarton, this lovely park has powered and non-powered sites, motel units and cabins. The staff are friendly and welcoming, and the facilities include two communal kitchens, a laundry, TV room, barbecue area, children’s play space, and a dump station. amberpark.co.nz
This charming port town is a lovely spot to spend a day. Browse through the eclectic, artisan shops, have a picnic at Corsair Bay or Cass Bay, enjoy the sculptures at Albion Square, or plan a Saturday visit and stop in at the local market. Lyttelton has a long and fascinating history, with Christchurch’s first European settlers landing here in 1850. A must-see attraction is the Lyttelton Timeball, which drops from its tower overlooking the harbour at 1pm daily.
MARGARET MAHY PLAYGROUND
If you have littlies with you, be sure to plan a trip to this wonderful space alongside the Avon River, just a couple of blocks from Cathedral Square. It’s the biggest playground south of the equator and spans more than two hectares. There’s loads of fun to be had, including digging, bouncing, climbing and spinning. The facility is colourful and safe, with some large-scale play equipment for the grownups too!
A new night market has recently opened at the Bush Inn Centre in Riccarton. The undercover event runs every Saturday from 6pm to 11pm, and has more than 100 stalls, ranging from food to crafts and entertainment. facebook.com/christchurchnightmarket.
ORANA WILDLIFE PARK
Located 15 minutes’ drive from Christchurch Airport, Orana Wildlife Park spans 80 hectares and is internationally renowned for its zoo-based breeding programmes for endangered exotic and native species. The park is home to over 1000 animals, including meerkats, lions, giraffes, Tasmanian devils, rhinos and gorillas. Visitors can see kiwi in the Nocturnal House, travel through the Lion Reserve, and feed the animals in the Farmyard. oranawildlifepark.co.nz
PUNTING ON THE AVON
A visit to Christchurch wouldn’t be complete without a relaxing cruise down the Avon River on a punt. The ride departs from the Antigua Boat Sheds and glides through the tranquil Botanic Gardens. The boats are handcrafted at-bottomed boats, poled along by a punter on the till (platform) at the rear. christchurchattractions.nz.
This special exhibition, at 299 Durham Street North, is dedicated to remembering and understanding the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes. Hear from those who lived through the quakes, and those who came to help. Learn about the science behind the events and, with the help of a hands-on interactive display, understand the phenomenon of liquefaction. Suitable for all ages. Open daily from 10am to 5pm. quakecity.co.nz
Tucked away in the heart of the CBD, overlooking the Avon River, Riverside Market is a delightful seven-day indoor marketplace. You’ll find a fresh, tasty selection of local produce, meat, seafood, baked goods, coffee and more. Alongside the market, Riverside Lanes is a destination boutique shopping experience. riverside.nz/market
Christchurch has several excellent ski fields nearby. The closest is the Porters Ski Area in Springfield (State Highway 73), which caters for all abilities in skiing and snowboarding. For those who’ve never skied before, there’s a designated learners’ area. Further on, Mt Hutt is about 90 minutes’ drive and boasts the longest ski season in New Zealand.
For newcomers to Christchurch, a tram ride is a great opportunity to see some of the inner-city attractions, and learn a little about the region’s history. The Canterbury Museum, Botanic Gardens, The Terrace, Riverside Market, Margaret Mahy Playground and New Regent Street are just some of the sights along the route. The tram runs from 10am to 4pm in winter, and 9am to 5pm in summer. You can hop on and off at any of the 17 stops along the way. Tickets can be purchased on board, or online at christchurchattractions.nz.
The Austin Club is a very cool basement cocktail bar built within a disused underground station. The low-ceilinged, 50-person capacity space between Cashel and High streets was designed to replicate post-war parties held in the late 1940s and early 1950s, with a jazz/swing/blues house band and old-school, varnished timber on the bars, stools and cladding. You even need a password to get in! (Tip: visit austinclub.co.nz to find it.)
This lovely store at 179 Ferry Road, Waltham, is a one-stop shop for all things old and interesting. Rummage through the fascinating selection of antiques and collectables. Vintage Wonderland specialises in unique items from the 1900s to the 1980s. It’s open from 10am to 5pm on weekdays and 10am to 4pm at the weekend. Have a sneak peek at the latest goodies up for grabs at facebook.com/vintagewonderlandnz.
The Wizard of Christchurch has been entertaining crowds for decades. He can often be found in Cathedral Square, dressed in a full black robe and pointy wizard’s hat, sharing his opinions and pontifications on all manner of subjects from the weather to the colour of phone boxes. This colourful character, who has also been known to cast spells and perform rain dances, is one-of-a-kind and certainly adds character and life to the cityscape.
Need to practise your golf swing? X-Golf Avonhead, at 120 Withells Road, is a great place to do just that. Choose from over 100 courses on the X-Golf simulators, and challenge yourself to see how you fare on these world-class courses. X-Golf is a golf simulator brand that prides itself on accuracy, experience and realism. This new technology measures not only the motion vector of a golf ball, but also the motion of the golf club, such as path, angle of attack, trajectory and velocity, perfectly replicating the golf-ball flight laws of physics. xgolfavonhead.co.nz
The Pohatu Penguin Colony in Akaroa is about 90 minutes’ drive from Christchurch. The colony is home to little penguins, as well as yellow-eyed penguins. The best way to see these cute creatures is by joining an evening tour, where you can see them rafting and interacting on the water, before slowly making their way ashore. pohatu.co.nz
In the mood for a little adventure? The zipline at the Christchurch Adventure Park is New Zealand’s highest and longest – and you can’t beat the views. Experience the adrenaline rush of racing through forest while you fly down, surrounded by views out to the Southern Alps. There are a few rides to choose from, including a nighttime option. zipchristchurch.com