Christchurch’s iconic trams trundle along the inner-city streets each day to the tune of knowledgeable conductors. A journey in one of these beautifully-restored heritage trams will transport you back in time and through the city’s changing cityscape. A full circuit is about 45 minutes and takes in a significant amount of the city. You can hop on and off at any point, so below are some must-visit spots.
Cathedral Square is a great spot to disembark and reflect on Christchurch’s past, present, and future. Challenge your friends to a game on the giant chess board or, on Friday nights, choose from a variety of delicious food trucks. While the damaged Christchurch Cathedral is a reminder of the earthquakes, it is to be restored. There are also plans to repair the square’s historic former Post Office building, with potential for it to become a hospitality hub. It’s fair to say the square will look remarkably different in years to come. Nearby is Heritage Christchurch, a hotel housed in the city’s grand Old Government Building, which opened in 1913. For a drink or a bite to eat, duck into O.G.B—a speakeasy-style bar, cafe and restaurant on the premises.
The Terrace is Christchurch’s brand-new hospitality precinct alongside Ōtākaro/Avon River. The all-encompassing retail, office, restaurant, and bar complex is inspired by the alleyways of cities such as Melbourne, with interlocking passageways and balconies across two stories. Fat Eddie’s, Kong, and Original Sin were the first establishments to open in this prime location in 2017, followed by Botanic in early 2018. Take some time to explore your surroundings, including the restored Bridge of Remembrance and the peaceful Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial.
Shop at The Crossing
The Crossing is a brand-new retail precinct on the corner of Cashel and High Streets. The precinct’s people-friendly design makes it a dream place to explore the shops by foot and the tramway runs through, adding a dash of nostalgia to the sparking new development. Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o WaiwhetuThe gallery offers fabulous photo opportunities, including the bull on the piano in front of the gallery and the striking wavy glass façade depicting the koru and Ōtākaro/Avon River. The gallery survived the quakes and has since received further strengthening. It is a must-visit for fans of beautiful architecture, particularly those with an interest in the distinctive Gothic Revival style, and is the subject of a huge restoration effort.
Christchurch Botanic Gardens
Established in 1863, the award-winning Christchurch Botanic Gardens feature one of the finest collections of exotic and indigenous plants to be found anywhere in New Zealand. The gardens back onto Canterbury Museum (also a stop on the tram tour), which is home to a wide array of fascinating objects and exhibitions. The gardens span 21-hectares and feature several conservatories, memorials, walking tracks and the stunning ilex Café, which is run by well-known local chef and restaurateur Jonny Schwass. The airy and architecturally-designed building was inspired by Palm House in Kew Gardens, London.
New Regent St
End your tram experience on New Regent St, boasting distinctive pastel colours and beautiful Spanish Mission architecture dating back to 1932. Designed by Francis Willis, the 40 buildings on the street were one of the few large-scale building projects undertaken in the South Island during the Great Depression. Spot the large street art mural in a carpark across Gloucester St and discover an amazing array of bars and eateries. Crowne Plaza Christchurch overlooks historic Victoria Square on the corner of Armagh and Colombo Streets and has an excellent restaurant on-site.