New Zealand Trip to Christchurch, South Island
Christchurch, South Island – The English City in New Zealand
Friends told us that Christchurch, South Island, is very English. We soon realized it when we witnessed the elegant gothic architecture in the city. We had 3 nights in Christchurch during our New Zealand trip. An overnight stay to board the famous TranzAlpine train and two final ones end our tour in the South Island.
Christchurch is also known as ‘New Zealand’s Garden City’, the trees and gardens, along with the Avon River create a relaxing and laid back atmosphere.
We started at Cathedral Square which is also the hub of the city. You can’t be in Christchurch without being here! There is something about this place. It’s nice just sitting around here on a lazy afternoon. Do pop by the I-Site at The Square if you have few days here. This way, you can plan your adventures and time smartly and wisely.
Our first stop is Christchurch Cathedral, a very important landmark of Christchurch – that’s probably the first thing you will notice too. This awesome towering church is truly the heart of this city. Take a tour and admire the beautiful stained glass window panels and fine artistic architecture so delicately preserved.
There are a lot to see and do in Christchurch. If you are into a shopping spree, you won’t be disappointed here. We a nice boat ride and enjoyed a leisurely punt on the Avon River through the Botanic Gardens. This is our first punting experience. Something different.
Whether you are a garden lover or not, you must not miss the Botanic Gardens. This is one of New Zealand’s best. With the fine collection of exotic and indigenous plants, the gardens are a restorative place to visit. I always love flowers so I started going ‘oo-oo’ and ‘aahh’ as I strolled along the flower gardens, especially the rhododendrons and rose gardens. I have never seen such glorious blooms.
Well, even Alex enjoyed himself. He admires the fine collection of herbs and maple trees.
Next comes the cultural precinct of Christchurch – The Arts Centre. This is a must-must-must in your New Zealand trip! And if you can, plan your stay in Christchurch on a weekend for this purpose! The Arts Centre comes alive on the weekends with artists, craftspeople, musicians, street performers and food vendors.
There is something for everyone. It’s even a great place to interest kids! It is also a fantastic place to pick up a New Zealand gift.
If you can’t make your way here on the weekends, don’t be disheartened. There are still more than 40 art galleries, craft studios, specialty shops, cafes, restaurants and bars occupying these historic buildings. The quality of the products is overall quite high.
Do you have a sweet tooth? Whether yes or no, there’s one shop you should visit which is often crowded with visitors and locals visiting Christchurch. That is none other than the Fudge Cottage Colonial Sweet Shop.
The delicious gourmet fudges are made fresh in Christchurch Arts Centre. Enjoy a free tasting on site! The nicely packed fudges make great New Zealand gifts for you friends and families too.
We had a nice afternoon lunch at Le Café, great place, sumptuous new Zealand food. You can’t miss this place.
It is usually packed with locals and visitors basking in the morning sun with a yummy sandwich or a nice cuppa. There is no shortage of eateries when it comes to dining in Christchurch. Check out the bunch of options at Oxford Terrace, known as ‘The Strip’.
We had dinner at an award winning French restaurant, Le Bon Bolli, located near to Hagley Park. Try their special garlic bread but be prepared to sleep alone!
Our Visit to Akaroa New Zealand
One of our days in our New Zealand trip was reserved for a day trip to Akaroa, a romantic French-inspired village within 2 hours’ drive from Christchurch. The hilly roads may be winding leading to Akaroa but you will be fascinated with its scenic beauty.
If you do not have a car hire in New Zealand or like to travel stress-free, simply book with either The Akaroa Shuttle or the French Connection.
Though Akaroa is a small town, it is popular with couples and holiday makers. There are few nice cafes along the main street and the Fish N’ Chips shop is one popular eating stop for the locals. You can count on the freshness of the fish in this shop! We took a stroll through the charming harbourside village and browse in some of the shops on Rue Lavaud.
This is after our 3-hour swimming with the dolphins trip. It’s Alex’s list of ‘must-dos’ in our New Zealand trip! The dolphins on the waters of Akaroa are no ordinary dolphins. These are the world’s smallest, rarest and friendliest dolphins only on Akaroa Harbour!
The cruise was quite an experience. And we weren’t the only ones with a small child on board. We were excited to get to the Hector dolphins!
Cruising in Akaroa waters can be a little rough if the weather is less than perfect. The most exciting moment for all of us in the cruise was when the “star” of the day appeared – the Hector dolphins! There were quite a few of them and the swimmers (including Alex) were all busy chasing after them.
Those of us who were not swimming had our fun of spotting those rare mammals! If you don’t feel like a wild adventure, pick one of the 2 hour scenic ones from the few tour operators here. Experience the wild side of New Zealand cruise.
Even if you decide not to do any of these, sitting around or relaxing by the Akaroa harbour is a lovely way to enjoy the serenity of this French-inspired town. This can be a romantic part or your New Zealand trip 🙂 I must say that this quaint town may be small in size but big in character! If we come back here again, this town definitely deserves a night’s stay.