10 MUST-DO EXPERIENCES IN CHRISTCHURCH, NZ

Located on the east-coast, Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand. Brimming with contemporary culture and stunning views it’s the perfect stop on a journey down under.

1. Get your bearings with Ballooning Canterbury

With the largest balloon operating in New Zealand, Ballooning Canterbury starts in the early morning, and offers panoramic views across the Canterbury plains to the Southern Alps. You are able to float over the ever changing landscapes and spot Christchurch from afar with interesting commentary about the history of the area and the surrounding farmland – with champagne and breakfast to top it off!

2. Swim with smallest and rarest Dolphins in the world

Ever wanted to swim with the worlds smallest dolphins? Why not take a day trip out to Akaroa and you can get up close and personal as the amazing creatures glide beside you? With Black Cat Cruises you’re given an incredibly warm and buoyant wetsuit, booties and a snorkel to meet some of the friendliest and rarest dolphins.

The experience starts with photos by the waterside, and then the skippers and guide give you some information about the Dolphins. From there you are free to roam about the boat and look out for the mammals – they are unfed and unmonitored as they are protected in the Akaroa Habrour, so the experiences are completely up to the dolphins. As you let the dolphins swim around you, the skipper keeps the boat at a close distance and point them out when they are swimming nearby in the picturesque bay.

3. Take a moment at the 185 Empty White Chairs

Only a short walk from the city centre, the 185 Empty White Chairs is a somber memorial of the people lost in the 2011 earthquakes. Each chair comes from one of the souls lost during the earthquake and is a truly moving message. Intended as a temporary installation on some grass, is has since become such a recognised icon that the locals of Christchurch want it to become a permanent memorial.

4. Take in the Street Art

Street art is big in Christchurch, and it effectively distracts from the many constructions operating to rebuild the city. Popular installations are the Lips Mural on Peterborough Street and I Always Knew You Would Come Back across from the Bus Interchange. This phrase was chosen through a public vote as the most popular phrase – the one that most resonated with how they feel about the city.

5. The Vintage Peddler

“For visitors and locals who enjoy the finer bikes in life”. The Vintage Peddler offers experiences ranging from bike hire to comfortable city tours where you can see as much as you want to. With vintage bikes with names such as Ron Burgandy, and Riccardo you are able to experience quirky coffee shops and get a look at the new developments of Christchurch in contrast to its older gothic buildings. Before departure you are able to point out anything you’d like to see while riding along the flat ways of Christchurch, whether it be through the greenery of the Hagley Park or street art spotting.

6. Climb some rocks or have a surf at Sumner Beach

The perfect place to take in some sun, Sumner Beach is located just north of Littleton and is a coastal seaside suburb. Whether there to swim or surf, you can take a climb up Cave Rock and take in the views, or explore underneath in the shade.

7. Take a drive to Castle Hill and channel your inner Narnian

Located in the High Country of the South Island, the draw point to Castle Hill are its grand limestone rock battlements of Kura Tāwhiti – it has also been used as a filming location for various movies including Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe. There are multiple walking trails, though many opt to walk around and climb the rocks as they like.

8. Get up close with the Pohatu Penguins in Akaroa

Pohatu is the largest Australasian Little Penguin colony on mainland New Zealand – the largest of its kind. Pohatu Penguins offers unique evening nature tours where you are able to view them naturally in an undisturbed environment with camouflage clothing and viewing platforms on the cliff side. The experience starts with a 4wd up the side of the crater with stops to viewpoints along the way. After a feeding with the loud and adorable sheep that live on the farm, you can take a look at the monitoring program of nesting boxes – maybe even spot a nearby seal swimming by!

9. Jump on a hassle free LOTR tour of Edoras

With Hassle Free Tours you are able to visit the filming location of The Lord of the Rings at the remote Mt. Sunday – the home to Edoras, the capital city of Rohan in the thrilling trilogy. The journey begins with a guided 6WD out to the beautiful valley with multiple photo stops. You are able to drive past the panoramic blue rivers and mountains while the vehicles are equipped with TV screens to watch behind the scenes footage from the films. Learn all about the building of Edoras’s Golden Hall before hiking up the mountain itself – with props in hand and an included lunch at Ms Potts High Country Station.

10. Punting on the Avon

The perfect chance to relax, glide along the tranquil Avon River on velvet cushions as your Edwardian punter trails you along the riverbanks. Dressed in true Edwardian form, they provide information about the local area, as well as allow you time to relax as you float by the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

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