Christchurch, aka the Garden City, is full of tourist attractions. You might choose to bus, bike or even walk around on foot, but for those who prefer the convenience of a car rental, Hertz has both Christchurch Airport car hire and Christchurch care hire branches.
Although some buildings and facilities have closed following the earthquakes, the Botanic Gardens remain open to visitors. They are a little paradise within the city – 21 hectares of horticulture, with sculptures, memorials, conservatories and walking paths.
The gardens showcase the best of New Zealand flora, as well as plant life from abroad. Native and exotic flowers abound, interspersed with grand, towering trees (some over 100 years old) and well manicured lawns. The Avon River crosses the garden at points, with pedestrian bridges.
The gardens open every day of the year at 7am and entry is free.
The International Antarctic Centre has been named the winner of the prestigious NZ Tourism Awards for Best Attraction not once but twice. The Antarctic Attraction at the International Antarctic Centre offers a fun and hands-on visual experience, where you can find out first-hand what real Antarctic conditions are like. Smart audiovisual and touchscreen technology brings realistic wind gusts or snowscapes, or why not take a ride in the Hagglund, a genuine Antarctic all-terrain vehicle?
As well as the indoor Snow & Ice Experience, the Antarctic Attraction is also well known for its Penguin Encounter, the country’s first combined indoor/outdoor penguin viewing area. This is where you can see little blue penguins with your own eyes. Take home a souvenir from the Antarctic Shop and finish off with a meal in the built-in cafe.
It is located next to Christchurch International Airport (handy for Christchurch Airport car hire). Adult entry $35, children $20, a family pass $95.
The bucolic Avon River is one of Christchurch’s highlights. A leisurely ride on the water is just the ticket to some amazing photographs and memories.
Reminiscent of England’s surroundings, with majestic willows providing a dramatic backdrop, the Avon is a popular tourist attraction that lends itself well to these flat-bottomed boats, pushed along by a pole. The punter stands at one end while passengers sit down and enjoy the 30-minute passage. Blankets and umbrellas are provided in case it gets chilly. Bring your own snacks and lunch, if you like.
Adults $25, children $12 or free for those under 5. Family passes are $65.
Sprawling across 80 hectares, Orana Wildlife Park is New Zealand’s only open range zoo. Guided tours operate daily offering behind-the-scenes insights and experiences – you can hand feed giraffes, interact with cheetahs and watch tigers hunt for food – or explore on your own. From meerkats to monkeys and rhinos to otters, there’s an abundance of wildlife to observe.
It’s a tranquil place, incorporating a cafe and a lovely gift shop onsite. Orana is a short drive from the city with a car rental or just 15 minutes from the airport. Adults up to $25, children over 5 $16, or $58 for a family.