Unique and energetic, Christchurch is home to around 398,520 people – and growing. The South Island’s largest city, this innovative destination manages to maintain its heritage and traditional English feel while staying fresh with street art and trendy bars and cafés.
You can even sleep in an old prison! What a riot.
But just like most things, living in Christchurch isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Before you make the move to this lovable city, consider the pros and cons of moving to Christchurch.
Living in Christchurch: Pros and Cons
Christchurch has pretty much everything you’d expect from a New Zealand city. It has great food, friendly locals, and stunning scenery aplenty. But there are a few not-so-desirable traits to keep in mind before moving to Christchurch.
Pro: There’s plenty to see and do
Home to beaches, parks and reserves, and an impressive selection of dining options, you’ll never be bored in Christchurch. This city offers endless weekend activities for all types, from wandering around the award-winning Christchurch Botanic Gardens to picture-perfect daytrips chasing waterfalls.
Con: The weather can be depressing
Winters in Christchurch can be looong. If you’ve ever been to London, you can expect the same 50 shades of grey and drizzly rain during winter in Christchurch – not to mention the relentless frost. If you’re not a fan of the cold, Christchurch may not be your dream destination.
Pro: It’s super easy to get around
This city is as flat as a tack. And, as such, it’s extremely easy to get where you need to go on foot or bike. Everything is pretty close by, so no matter where you’re standing, you won’t be far from where you want to go in Christchurch. Plus public transport is known to be pretty decent here.
Con: It’s still in ‘rebuild’ mode
The 2011 Christchurch earthquake packed a punch, and some of the city’s infrastructure is still paying for it today. You can expect to see quite a bit of construction going on to rebuild.
Pro: The dining scene is booming
Christchurch has no shortage of delicious eats on the menu. From food trucks to fine dining, this city is a foodie’s dream come true. You’ll have no problem finding your new favourite restaurant or café.
Best Christchurch Suburbs to Live In
The right neighbourhood can make all the difference to feeling at home in a new city. These are a few of our favourite spots to settle down in Christchurch.
North of the city centre, this quaint suburb boasts beautiful historical cottages on its narrow streets. Clean and safe, Merivale is home to some great cafés and restaurants – and its bars are known to be some of the best in Christchurch. It also offers a kindergarten, pre-school, primary schools and a couple of girls’ high schools, and has a few neighbouring parks, making it great for families.
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If you’re looking to live the coast life, Sumner is the seaside suburb for you. It boasts one of the best beaches in Christchurch, along with a charming village-like atmosphere, beautiful parks and reserves, and sporting facilities (horse riding, anyone?). Sumner is also one of the oldest European settlements in the Christchurch area, so it can be your claim to fame if you’re a history buff.
With its huge Westfield shopping centre, schools, parks, and restaurants, what’s not to love about Riccarton? You have everything you need right at your doorstep, and the CBD is just a hop, skip, and a jump away. If you love inner-city convenience, Riccarton could be the perfect choice for you. It’s also home to the famous Christchurch Farmers’ Market, open 9am – 1pm every Saturday.
Known by locals as a somewhat fancy suburb, Fendalton is one of the city’s oldest residential areas. Here you can enjoy picture-perfect streets of leafy trees and old character homes. Fendalton offers a library, retirement village, parks, and schools.
Christchurch’s Dining Scene
From fuss-free family outings to fancy date-night dining, Christchurch is serving up the goods for the foodie community.
From breakfast and lunch to dinner and dessert, Christchurch’s central city is rife with new eateries to sink your teeth into. Here you can choose from an endless menu of cuisines and dining styles. Enjoy your favourite pub grub in a relaxed setting or sample innovative European fare in a luxe setting while sipping local wine. Central City has something for everyone.
A hip name for a hip precinct, ‘SOMO’ is essentially the neighbouring suburbs Sydenham and Addington. Just south of the CBD, SOMO is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike, offering delicious coffee, burgers, authentic Japanese, and more.
Papanui Road, Merivale
Take a wander down this buzzing street and see where your tastebuds take you. Papanui Road is dotted with tempting dining options, from fresh gourmet seafood to Indian, Italian, French, and Asian. It’s also a great spot for bar-hopping some of Christchurch’s best watering holes.
Culture in Christchurch
A city rich in fascinating history, there’s no lack of culture in Christchurch. If you’re looking to catch a show or get lost in some local art, we’ve got the city’s top arts and culture spots right here.
The Arts Centre – 2 Worcester Boulevard
A hub of arts, culture, education, and creativity, the Arts Centre in Christchurch is an independent charity held in trust for the people of Canterbury. This beautiful venue is still undergoing restorations following the earthquake, but that’s not stopping it from paving the way for Christchurch’s artsy scene. Here you can check out 23 separate historical buildings, get lost in art exhibitions, and enjoy live music and acts from local talent.
Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu – Cnr Worcester Boulevard and Montreal Street
The city’s go-to for all things art, the Christchurch Art Gallery’s collection is well worth a visit. Featuring pieces from local and international artists, you can take advantage of the free Wi-Fi and enjoy audio guides on your phone as you make your way through the gallery. The Christchurch Art Gallery offers late night guided tours, talks, and workshops for the little ones.
Christchurch has a pretty comfortable climate all year round – as long as you’re prepared for the frost come winter. The city also experiences rainfall on fewer days than any of New Zealand’s other big cities, with an average of 2,100 hours of sunshine each year. Be prepared for the rain, wind, and sunshine with these tips.
Summer in Christchurch brings average daytime temperatures of 21°C-23°C. The summer months generally bring warm Nor’wester winds, but cool sea breezes are also common, helping moderate the warm temperatures.
Pleasant and mild, autumn in Christchurch has average daytime temperatures of 14°C-20°C. The city comes alive with bold hues of gold and red, making it a great time to get out and explore the beauty of the ‘Garden City’.
This ain’t no North Island winter, folks. While average daytime temperatures are around 11°C-13°C, it often falls below 0°C at night and welcomes around 70 days of frost a year. If you’re on the hunt for snow, you’ll most likely find it on the hill suburbs – but only once or twice a year.
With average daytime temperatures of 15°-19°C and blooming flowers aplenty, spring is a welcome change from the winter chill. Treat your senses to the bright colours and aromatic scents in the city’s 740+ gardens and parks.
Getting Around Christchurch
Christchurch offers convenient and affordable public transport to get you where you want to go.
If you’re looking for a cheap and easy way to get around Christchurch, you can’t beat the bus – especially if you’re equipped with the prepay card, Metrocard. This gives you a cheaper price and eliminates the need to dig through your bag for change. The bus network is the vastest public transport network in the city, with services to get you to and from the suburbs and attractions you want to go.
The Diamond Harbour Ferry goes between Lyttelton and Diamond Harbour in under 10 minutes, and it departs at least once every hour throughout the day.
Wherever you are and whatever the time, you’ll have no trouble getting a taxi in Christchurch. You can find taxis in ranks near popular spots, or order one from your phone.