Christchurch continues to rebuild following earthquakes that claimed 80 per cent of the city centre in 2011. There a plenty of good reasons to head back to Christchurch. With new eateries, shopping districts and great places to stay opening all the time, exploring what’s new in the city is a must. Christchurch is also the gateway to the stunning scenery of Canterbury, Banks Peninsula and the vineyards of the Waipara Valley. Christchurch is the perfect place to base yourself while you explore further afield. By foot, bus, boat and bicycle, explore Christchurch and Canterbury with these top tours.
Explore Christchurch by vintage double-decker bus
One of the top things to see and do in Christchurch is explore the city on a vintage double-decker bus. Hassle free tours operates a fleet of four 1960s era Route Master London buses. The Christchurch hop-on-hop-off tour is a perfect way to get an overview of the city. The knowledgeable driver/guide will provide plenty of information about the city’s history, attractions and redevelopment. The extended Discover Christchurch Tour includes the hop-on-hop-off loop plus an extra two-hour tour exploring further afield. The bus climbs through Cashmere Hills to a lookout over the city where you can see as far as the Kaikoura Peninsula and Pacific Ocean and the Southern Alps. Stroll through the stunning gardens of Mona Vale and visit popular Sumner Beach. There’s not too many places where you can take in a view of a beach and snow capped mountains at once, but you can here.
Visit Middle Earth
Whether you love the Lord of the Rings movies or you’ve never even seen them, you’ll appreciate the full-day Lord of the Rings: Edoras Tour with Hassle Free Tours. Travel by special 4WD bus to Mt Potts High Country station, made famous as the film location for Mt Sunday and the Rohan capital of Edoras. The stunning location featured in the second and third of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Enjoy a picnic lunch before taking an optional short hike to the summit of Mt Sunday where the scenery is simply breathtaking. The tour is a great reminder that the south of New Zealand is truly blessed with some of the world’s best mountain scenery.
Waipara Wine Trail
Just under an hour from the city, the Waipara Valley is home to Canterbury’s finest wineries, best known for cool climate Riesling and Pinot Noir. There are around 40 boutique wineries in the valley. On this half-day Waipara Wine Trail tour with Canterbury Leisure Tours you will visit four of the valley’s top vineyards and enjoy complimentary wine tastings. First stop is Waipara Springs where there is an optional platter lunch including tastes of regional and wider New Zealand produce. Next up is Greystone-Muddy Water, one of the oldest organic wineries in the valley and then on to sample the premium wines produced at Waipara Hills. Finally, the tour visits Pegasus Bay where there’s time to enjoy the beautiful landscaped gardens and ornamental lake before tasting its top-quality wines. Be sure to try the Muscat.
Bicycle tour with Vintage Peddler
Christchurch is a bicycle-friendly city. A bicycle tour with Vintage Peddler and the collection of classic bikes is a great way to explore the city. The three-hour city tour will access parklands and riverside trails you can’t reach with a car. The tour takes in the lovely Hagley Park, the Avon River, the new shopping district and arts precinct. En route you can ride right into the warehouse-style C4 Coffee House for a coffee break. If you join the tour on a Saturday, you’ll have the chance to ride out to historic Riccarton House and Bush for the fabulous farmers’ market. If you prefer to do your own thing, Vintage Peddler will rent you a bicycle to explore independently.
Day trip to Akaroa
A great day trip from Christchurch is a visit to the ridiculously pretty town of Akaroa on Banks Peninsula. Akaroa Shuttle offers daily return transfers from central Christchurch that will give you plenty of time to explore the town and learn about its unique place as New Zealand’s only town to be settled by French colonists. The very helpful team at iSite visitor centre will help you plan your day. Don’t miss a harbour cruise with Akaroa Dolphins. The two-hour cruise will take you around the harbour, the crater of an ancient volcano flooded by the sea, in search of resident pods of Hectors Dolphins. There’s also a chance to spot seals, penguins and even albatross. After the cruise enjoy lunch in the Trading Rooms and visit the new tasting room of Meniscus Wines to try their award-winning Pinot Noir. When the owners say they have the best view in Akaroa, they aren’t lying.