Central Christchurch is home to a variety of attractions, including beautiful old buildings, the meandering Avon River, street art, the botanic gardens and various reminders of the Christchurch earthquakes. It’s a strange mix of the old, the new and the soon to be demolished. A fun way to explore central Christchurch is on the historic trams which rumble their way through the city streets. We did just that on our recent trip to Christchurch — below are some of the highlights.
Riding the Tram Through Christchurch
One of the highlights of a Christchurch tram tour is riding the trams themselves. There are three different trams and it’s a hop on hop off service, meaning you can ride as much as you like for a whole day. The trams are really cool, especially the one with an open carriage. Gia even sat in the exact same seat that Prince Harry used in 2015, which was pretty exciting. While travelling on the trams is fun, you’ll eventually want to get out and see some sights. Below is a quick look at what you can see on the Christchurch tram tour.
New Regent Street
This popular eating, drinking and shopping street is interesting due to its row of old shop houses painted in a variety of bright colours. The trams run right down the middle of the street but it’s a good idea to get out and grab a coffee or a bite to eat.
The Avon River
The Avon River is one of the best things to see in Christchurch. You can walk along the banks of the Avon or go kayaking or punting in its shallow waters. One of the most popular things to see along the Avon River is the Bridge of Remembrance. For the best views of the Avon River, head to the pedestrian bridge just after the Antigua Boat Sheds.
Botanic Gardens / Canterbury Museum
In a place dubbed “The Garden City”, you can safely assume that the botanic gardens would be a highlight (and you’d be right). We visited in spring and there were heaps of brightly coloured flowers in every direction. The gardens are perfect for a wander — grab some food and have a picnic if the weather is good, or there are a couple of cafes. Canterbury Museum has heaps of exhibits and is a cool place to spend an hour or two. My personal highlight is “Christchurch Street”, a mock main street showing what things were like in the early days of the city.
Two Contrasting Cathedrals
Christchurch Cathedral was partially destroyed in the 2010 / 2011 earthquakes and still sits in ruins. It kinda killed the vibe of the once popular Cathedral Square but it will eventually be repaired. The Cardboard Cathedral is its temporary replacement and it’s a unique looking building.
Street art and shopping
Christchurch has seen an explosion in street art over the last few years and you’ll see heaps of it while wandering the streets. Christchurch is also a great place to shop (the best in the South Island I’d say) — there are plenty of shops in the central city or you can head out to the malls (the trams don’t go that far though). There are also a few nice old buildings scattered around the central city. Some have obviously been destroyed by the earthquakes but it’s an interesting enough place architecturally.
Christchurch Tram Tour Tickets
You can buy tickets for the tram tour at the Christchurch Attractions website, the office at Cathedral Junction or on the trams themselves. It’ll set you back $25 and kids ride for free. It’s a great way to see the city!
Are you heading to Christchurch? Will you explore the central city by tram? Let us know in the comments below!
Disclaimer: We worked with Christchurch Attractions to bring you this post. All thoughts and opinions are our own
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I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.
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