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.
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.
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.
|Currency||New Zealand dollar|
|Time-Zones||New Zealand Time (GMT+12)|
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.