Guide To Christchurch Accommodation
Deciding where to stay in Christchurch can be a tricky one. The city itself is a patchwork of downtown energy and rural enclaves filled with good wine and friendly folk. There’s also an abundance of regions worth visiting lying outside of the Christchurch metropolitan area, where a whole different choice of activities and accommodations await.
The pros of being downtown may seem obvious, but a stay in the heart of Christchurch can be a little different than in most cities. Here there’s not so much hustle and bustle as there is calm and tranquillity. The downtown boasts more parkland per capita than most cities on the North and South Islands, giving it a uniquely green feel. Whether it’s easy access to the shopping complexes around Cashel Mall or a brisk walk to the beautiful Christchurch Botanic Gardens for a punt ride on the River Avon, it’s easy to see why so many people opt to stay here.
In many ways the ‘best of both worlds’ option, Sumner has all the bonuses of being a city suburb with all the pleasantries of a seaside location. The beaches here are a real local pull, with decent walking opportunities. The Esplanade promenade is lined with an array of pubs, bars, shops and private housing, while the beaches at its front are formed from soft golden sand. The district is home to a number of restaurants, a plethora of homely cafés, a cinema and is within walking distance of Godley Beach Park, where it’s possible to find some great cliff top walking routes.
In appearance and character New Brighton is rather similar to Sumner. This seaside suburb is situated just 5 miles outside Christchurch’s central district, has great transport connections into town and a number of other bonuses that make it a favourite holidaying destination for locals. Central New Brighton has been influenced heavily by the region’s arts and crafts culture, and the centre is now home to regular bazaar-style markets that take place once a month. Along the beach, Marine Parade provides access to the extensive dunes and sandy spots, while north of town the Rawhiti Domain is a well-established sports facility complete with tennis courts, cricket ground, archery ranges and a golf course.
The place to go if it’s wine you’re after. The enclosed microclimate of the Waipara Valley has secured this as the fastest growing wine region in the whole of New Zealand. Waipara town is the most popular spot to be based, where a cluster of wineries that have influenced the character of the town immeasurably are within walking distance. Balmoral and Waikari are the two other major centres of wine tasting, each offering good access to the major points of interest in the region. Also part of the Waipara valley, Hurunui District to the north of Christchurch is a vast stretch of wild and untouched coastline reserve. Camping trips to the Hurunui River basin and coastal treks up to Gore Bay in the north are amongst the most popular outdoorsy activities here.
The rural enclave of Waimakariri has started to show some faint signs of urbanisation in and around the town areas of Woodend and Kaiapoi. The former is home to a number of pleasant shops, while Kaiapoi is an old port town at the mouth of Waimakariri, often considered to be one of Christchurch’s northernmost suburbs. The biggest town in the Waimakariri region is Rangiora, where many city-dwellers go to kick-back in the holidays. Because of its popularity with vacationers Rangiora has great services and some interesting cultural hotspots, like the self-proclaimed only meadery in New Zealand. Primarily though it’s fair to say that Waimakariri’s biggest touristic pull is it’s abundant offering of outdoors activities, both high-energy and refined. Many people come for the adrenaline-heavy jet boating, while others flock for the wine, good food, and rich walking opportunities.
Banks Peninsula is one of the coastal gems of New Zealand’s South Island. Staying here will give visitors an opportunity to witness the healthy array of marine life that’s lived in these shores of the South Pacific for so long. Most of the popular activities revolve around the coast and sea here, with the favourites being scuba diving, wildlife tours, windsurfing and sea kayaking. Many choose to undertake fishing trips to Lake Ellesmere in the west, while others enjoy exploring the quaint villages that dot the coastline between here and the city. The french influenced harbour town of Akaroa provides the best choice of accommodation.
It’s no secret that most people stay in Methven for the snow. During the ski season the town buzzes with the energy of winter sportspeople eager to reach the ski fields and backcountry terrain in and around South Island’s largest resort by skiable area, Mt Hutt. Off season, the town recoils back into a rural routine that can be endearingly slow paced. People still arrive in the warmer months though, hoping to discover some of the region’s hiking trails or enjoy one of Methven’s trademark hot air balloon rides.
Mount Cook National Park
Accommodation in the Mount Cook National Park is generally limited to hostel and lodge accommodation aimed at hikers in need of an overnight stop off while they explore the highest mountains in the country. The largest accommodation is The Hermitage Hotel in Mount Cook Village, while Glentanner Park Centre offers accommodation and a host of activities a few miles outside of the village. Close by, the town of Twizel to the south is a little busier, attracting more than just the hardened outdoorsy crowd. Here there are some great bars and bistros, and it’s possible to spend days on the lake kayaking or fishing. Expect to drive for a few hours to/from Christchurch, depending on your destination.
One of South Island’s iconic lakes, Lake Tekapo sits midway between Christchurch and Queenstown (around a three hour drive from both). The great outdoors is the obvious major pull here, and there really is plenty to do, from hiking and biking around the lake, to fishing, snow sports and golf. The stoic Church of the Good Shepard is perhaps the most popular sight to see, while the clear air and panoramic views prove their worth both day and night; Tekapo is a great place to stargaze after dark. There is a modest amount of accommodation near the lake, from the top-class Peppers Resort, to self-catering options to boot.
Most veterans of Kaikoura will tell you that the two and a half hour’s drive from Christchurch really is worth it. This is South Island’s whale watching capital and people flock here for the pleasure of witnessing the majestic creatures in their natural habitat. It’s also a supremely beautiful place, with mountain-backed coastline that’s perfect for scenic flight excursions. Motels and B&Bs form the character of accommodation here, while there are some more luxurious options available.