The largest city in New Zealand’s South Island, Christchurch is an excellent destination to discover the country’s vibrant culture and history. Once you’ve explored the city’s more urban offerings – cafes, museums and art galleries – set your sights on the great outdoors and take in Christchurch’s spectacular natural beauty and mild weather. From summer music festivals and and wildlife encounters and scenic train rides, here are the best ways to spend a summer in Christchurch in 2022 and 2023.
1. TranzAlpine Train Ride
As one of the world’s finest inland rail journeys, the TranzAlpine line covers 223 kilometres of stunning South Island landscapes in just under five hours. The route passes through the iconic Canterbury plains, a patchwork of farmland criss-crossed by rivers and home to the largest collection of Maori rock art in the country, as well as the world’s only Ford Model T Railcar. As the train continues through the Southern Alps, a majestic mountain range extending along the length of the South Island, you can witness the splendour of the snow-capped Aoraki/Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand. Upon arriving in Greymouth, hire a car for a day or two to explore the West Coast and get your adrenaline pumping with more active outdoor pursuits, such as adventure rafting, skydiving and glacier hikes.
2. New Brighton
With a vibe akin to an English seaside town, the coastal suburb of New Brighton, approximately a 15-minute drive from Christchurch city centre, hosts a lively Seaside Market every Saturday. The market, held at New Brighton Mall, features a range of family-friendly live entertainment, from local buskers to bouncy castles; great food, including artisanal breads, delicious doughnuts and fresh produce; and vendors selling handmade arts, crafts and jewellery. After making your way around the market, head to renowned café Switch to get your coffee fix before a stroll on the suburb’s iconic pier, visiting the Travis Wetland Nature Heritage Park or taking a walk along the beach to the mouth of the Waimakariri River.
3. Port Hills
Tucked between the city of Christchurch and the historic township of Lyttelton, the Christchurch Port Hills are the perfect site for nature-lovers to explore by bike. Large sections of the hills – remnants of the Lyttelton volcano that erupted millions of years ago – have been repurposed into a cycle tracks for both advanced riders and beginners. As well as the impressive views, there’s also the chance to catch the remarkable native flora and fauna, which includes birds unique to New Zealand such as the wood pigeon, as well as other birds including the fantail and shining cuckoo. For more demanding trails, take on the Godley Head mountain biking track. Conquer the challenging ascent from Evans Pass Road and you will be rewarded with a heavenly 360-degree view across the South Pacific Ocean.
4. North Canterbury Wine Region
Surrounding Christchurch to the east and the north, North Canterbury is a renowned destination that’s home to over 90 family-run vineyards. The region’s unique climate and soil types, including the volcanic Banks Peninsula and the limestone-rich Waipara and Waikari valleys result in more concentrated and structured flavours – the area is particularly known for its Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling. Notable vineyards in the Waipara region include Canterbury’s famous Pegasus Bay Winery and Waipara Springs, where the first chardonnay vines were planted in 1982. If you visit on a Saturday morning, head to the Amberley Farmers Market, where you’ll find a passionate group of growers and producers from the area selling their quality goods.
5. Orana Wildlife Park
Orana Wildlife Park is New Zealand’s only open-range zoo, and the only place in the country where you can see orangutans. Situated just a 15-minute drive from Christchurch Airport, the park is internationally renowned for its involvement in conservation breeding programmes for endangered, exotic and native species such as the New Zealand brown teal, blue duck and kiwi bird. Excitingly, earlier this year, four young Tasmanian devils became the newest arrivals at the zoo as part of the Save the Tasmanian Devil Ambassador Programme. You can engage in a range of activities at the park such as the daily kiwi feed at 1:30pm, which allows you to get up close with New Zealand’s national icon.
6. SCAPE Public Art Season 2022
Join in on this annual public art festival with a range of local and internationally renowned artists, put together by SCAPE Public Art, an organisation that installs accessible, free contemporary public art around the city. The 2022 season will run from 5 November 2022 to 29 January 2023 and feature exhibitions, artist talks, workshops, performances and free activities. This year’s exhibition features local artists and collectives like Hye Rim Lee, Jon Jeet and Pacific Sisters along with international artists like Nabuqi (Mongolia) and Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries.
Until 29 January 2023
7. Coca-Cola Christmas in the Park
This annual free music concert is a lovely way to spend a Saturday evening. Located at North Hagley Park, Christchurch’s largest urban open space, Coca-Cola Christmas in the Park has been happening in Auckland and Christchurch since 1994 and usually draws a large and enthusiastic crowd. Anticipate a range of New Zealand’s top singers, dancers and musicians performing your all-time Christmas favourites and their own hottest hits. For 2022 homegrown talents like Jackie Clarke, Nate Dousand, Sophie Maude and L.A.B will take to the stage.
On 26 November 2022
8. Electric Avenue
The much awaited 2023 edition of Electric Avenue returns to Hagley Park next year and will feature a host of local and international musicians. Headlining the event are two-time Grammy award-winning artist Lorde as well as L.A.B, both from New Zealand. Other headlining acts include Flume and Synthony – a stunning collaboration that features live vocalists, an orchestra, DJs and a visual arts element.
On 25 February 2023
Singapore Airlines flies to Christchurch daily. To book a flight, visit singaporeair.com