Car rental in Christchurch
Rent a car in Christchurch

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Christchurch is the third-largest city in New Zealand, one of the most geographically diverse areas in the world. The country's stunning beauty ranges from glaciers to temperate forests and seas, all within a few hours' drive of each other. Of the two main islands of New Zealand, South Island is considered to be more beautiful, with Christchurch being its largest city. Rent a car in Christchurch and coast down world-class roads flanked with scenic beauty. Driving around anywhere on the small island from Christchurch is easy, encouraging many travellers to opt for a self-drive vacation.

It's your choice: Where to go in Christchurch

As Christchurch International is only 12km from the central business district (CBD), you can rent a car in Christchurch at the airport and head directly to the city. Ravaged severely by an earthquake in 2011, Christchurch is still recovering – this is most evident in the CBD, where you'll see reconstruction sites everywhere. Despite this recovery process, it has an energetic feel and is a favourite destination for travellers. Besides the friendly locals, who will regale you with stories of the city's resilience, there are numerous art galleries, a beautiful botanical garden, and popular Hagley Park. Keep an eye out for the murals Christchurch is renowned for. If you're seeking something grander, you could drive 60km north to the Waipara Valley and stay in one of the many beautiful vineyards there.

What to do in Christchurch

Christchurch has lots to offer. Its botanical garden is a must-see any time of year, but if you visit in spring, you'll be rewarded with blooming daffodils and rhododendrons. Nearby Hagley Park is another green oasis in the city, with paths by the River Avon. It's renowned for its cherry trees, which bloom extravagantly in spring. Christchurch is famous for its art, culture, and museums – make sure to see the Māori greenstone and jade artefacts at the Canterbury Museum, and learn about the Canterbury region's seismic activity at Quake City. Travellers can also rent a car in Christchurch and go for long scenic drives to Lake Tekapo (230km from Christchurch) and the nearby Church of the Good Shepherd. Further beyond (320km) lies Mt. Cook National Park, where you can see the tallest peak in New Zealand.

Important info about Christchurch

Christchurch is New Zealand's third-largest city. As it's still recovering from the 2011 earthquake, be respectful about this damage as you talk to the locals, for many of them are still sensitive about the losses. That said, the city has a vibrant atmosphere that encourages travellers to explore the city and enjoy its nightlife. If you love long drives, you'll be pleased to learn that there's a lot to see outside Christchurch as well. After just a couple of hours' drive, you'll arrive at famous Hanmer Springs, a splendid place to rejuvenate as you soak in the thermal pools. Other options include seaside villages such as Gore Bay, Kaikoura, and Akaroa, which is famous for its colonial history and architecture. At Kaikoura, join a cruise to watch the denizen sperm whales.

Weather in Christchurch
Facts
Country New Zealand
Language English
Currency New Zealand dollar
Time-Zones New Zealand Time (GMT+12)
Country Code +64

Good to know

As in the UK, you have to drive on the left of the road in New Zealand. Despite traffic being light, be sure to stay vigilant and follow traffic rules. Everyone in the car must wear a seatbelt, and speeding may lead to heavy penalties. While renting your car, also get a GPS, which depicts the speed limits at all times. As there are many turnarounds in the city, familiarise yourself with the rules before driving – specifically, remember to give way to the vehicles to the right. Unlike in many other countries, vehicle insurance is not a must, but you may wish to pay a premium to cover for unforeseen emergencies. Also, alcohol limits are quite strict - drinking and driving below 20 years is not permitted. For drivers over 20, the blood-alcohol limit is 250 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath.

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What to taste in Christchurch

Christchurch is a gourmet's delight. The multicultural city proffers a wide range of cuisines to choose from for any meal. Be it British fish and chips or American fast food that you're craving, you'll find it all in Christchurch. Above all, make sure to try the coffee in Christchurch, which, like the rest of New Zealand, is famous for its cafés – many roast and grind their own beans. Christchurch is also very close to world-renowned vineyards, so remember to partake in a glass of pinot or chardonnay with your meal. Another must-try if you're driving around to nearby villages is the fresh seafood, including mussels, clams, lobster, and crayfish. Venison is also popular, given the numerous deer farms in the lower part of the South Island. Do try the Fiordland venison steak, considered a delicacy here.

What to bring to your friends from Christchurch

Christchurch has plenty of local novelties and memorabilia you can buy for friends and family. The indigenous Māori have played a distinct role in shaping the country's culture, making Māori-styled artefacts such as masks, jewellery, and other trinkets quite popular. Particularly interesting are those made of greenstone, a semi-precious stone used by the Māori to shape both weapons and jewellery. Other local novelties include mementoes and jewellery made of pāua shells, which are polished to reveal a vibrant and multicoloured outer layer. Christchurch is also home to the headquarters of global outdoor clothing brand Kathmandu, which offers wonderful gift ideas. Over the millennia, New Zealand's fauna has evolved uniquely, particularly birds such as the kea, moa, and kiwi. Soft toys of these creatures also make a great gift.