Christchurch, New Zealand, is a truly unique destination. Where else in the world can you ski, golf, surf, see whales and visit some of the best wineries in the world? Even better, all of these activities are less than an hour's drive from each other. Seeing everything can be pricey, especially when you've probably already spent a small fortune getting to New Zealand. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can see and do while sticking to a tight budget. To begin with, a hire car could save you a fortune on public transport and, of course, make it much easier to get around the sights. They say Christchurch is the gateway to the Southern Alps, and you won't get far there without your own transport.
City life on the cheap
There are plenty of free attractions in gloriously green Christchurch. A walk around Hagley Park costs nothing, while planning your own tour of the Botanic Gardens
there with its old trees, beautiful flora and the slow-flowing River Avon is as simple as printing out a free map from an online source. On the western edge of the park, Canterbury Museum
offers free admission with a collection of more than two million items dealing mainly with Maori history and Antarctic exploration. If you wish, you can show your appreciation by leaving a donation. Cathedral Square is the heart of Christchurch and is home to many historical buildings and statues. Sadly, some, such as the Press Building and the Lyttelton Times Building were damaged in the earthquake of 2011 and subsequently demolished. The cathedral remains the focal point of the square, however, and the street performers have hung on to entertain visitors.
Eating and sleeping
Eating out cheaply won't be a problem, as there is an enormous range of eateries to choose from in Christchurch. One example is The Bodhi Tree
. Destroyed in the 2011 earthquake, it has reopened on the Ilam Road and offers the same great Burmese food at very reasonable prices. Buffets are a good way of saving cash too. Morleykings
on Carmen Road is one such place where you can fill up on Chinese and Asian fare cheaply. Lovers of chocolate should head over to Governor's Bay where She Chocolat Café
has managed to incorporate chocolate into many of its savoury dishes. Christchurch is full of hostels and you should find reasonably priced accommodation easily enough. The most popular are Point Break
, conveniently close to the beach, Kiwi Basecamp
, (great homemade bread at breakfast) and Around The World Backpackers
with its many free facilities, including Wi-Fi and hot drinks.
Further afield, Christchurch is linked to the port of Lyttelton via a railway tunnel that passes through an extinct volcano, providing an interesting trip for railway enthusiasts. Like many towns in the area, however, this town was severely damaged by the earthquake in 2011 and it's best to ring in advance to see what attractions are up-and-running. Akaroa is a must-see destination just an hour's drive from Christchurch. This is where the French first settled when they came to New Zealand, and one can see why they choose Akaroa. The location is one of the most beautiful areas in all of South Island, with an enchanting harbour where you can see dolphins, penguins, and seals. You could spend several days just driving around and taking in the scenery. Moreover, the area is littered with campsites and hostels to keep accommodation costs to a minimum. Bon Accord Backpackers
is one of the best and offers off-street parking. Undeniably, Christchurch's biggest attraction is its natural beauty, and experiencing that costs nothing.