This Christchurch travel guide is for you if you're aiming to see the 'real Christchurch' while stretching your travel funds as far as they'll go.
Christchurch (Chch for short) is my hometown and I spent most of my life there. I've experienced the city both before and after the devastating earthquakes of 2010/2011. In this guide you'll get a real local's perspective on where to stay, what to see and do, and some insights into local life in the city post-quake.
Below you'll find walkthroughs on the best cheap accommodation in Christchurch, covering a range of types such as backpacker hostels, camping grounds, homestays, and even cheap motels and hotels.
You'll find out where and how to book cheap flights to Christchurch, the best things to do in Christchurch (including free and very cheap options), and which Christchurch tours are the most suitable to budget travellers.
You'll also learn about the best cheap car hire options in Christchurch, and there's a Christchurch airport guide to walk you through getting to and from the airport without blowing money on taxis or expensive shuttles.
There's also a section explaining the Christchurch earthquake – how it affected the city, what you need to know about it, and earthquake-related things you can see and do in the city.
So, for starters – accommodation.
Christchurch is a fairly large city by NZ standards – only around 350,000 by population, but it's spread out over a very wide area.
There are lots of accommodation options, from hostels to holidays parks to hotels – although bear in mind that many accommodation spots were destroyed in the earthquakes, so there is not as much accommodation available as there used to be and prices have gone up a bit as a result.
Check out the page on cheap accommodation in Christchurch for an overview, or visit any one of the following pages for guides to the best cheap options of the various accommodation types:
Once you're all set up with your accommodation, it's time to start planning your exploration of the city.
Below is a compilation of some of the activities and places to visit in Christchurch - visit the full things to do in Christchurch page for more details. I'm including most of the popular tourist attractions and activities, as well as some lesser-known activities that are popular with locals if you want to have a more authentic experience of the city.
A quick word on getting around – if you don't have your own vehicle, you're going to end up being pretty reliant on buses which are the main public transport option in the city.
You can see a full breakdown of the city bus network, showing which buses go where at what times, HERE.
The above info gives you plenty to piece together your own tour of the city if you want to save money, but if you're pressed for time or want to learn a little more about the city from a professional guide, there are some Christchurch tours that are worth looking at and work the best on a relatively small budget.
For day trips further afield, check out the day trips from Christchurch page.
Domestic flights within NZ can be very cheap and reasonable if you book at the right time and through the right companies – cheaper than making the same trips by car or bus, even. But if you leave your bookings too late, domestic flights can also be horrendously expensive.
The page on cheap flights to Christchurch will walk you through where to find the cheapest flights and how to make sure you're getting the best deal.
As I tell most visitors to NZ I meet – having your own vehicle is hands down the best way to explore New Zealand.
If you want to hire a car in Christchurch, this guide will walk you through which companies are best and even explain how you can get cars and campervans for as little as $1/day.
These are rental returns, where the rental companies need someone to drive the vehicle back to another location – there are usually a lot of these going between Christchurch, Queenstown and Auckland, so Chch is a good place to pick one up.
You may already know that in 2010 and 2011 Christchurch experienced several very damaging earthquakes which largely destroyed the city centre and ruined houses and other buildings throughout many of the suburbs.
The effects of the earthquake can still be seen years later, and there are even buildings in the city centre that still half-stand as they were on the day or the February 2011 quake, collapsed half into rubble, fenced off.
Learn more about the Christchurch earthquake and what you should know about it as a visitor, here.
A quick guide to getting to and from Christchurch airport. Airport buses, the cost, and how to avoid taking taxis and paying hidden fees to enter and exit the airport in a vehicle.