Christchurch has frequent air service from all major centers via Air New Zealand (tel. 0800/737-000; www.airnewzealand.co.nz) and Air New Zealand Link. Christchurch International Airport is 10km (6 miles) from Cathedral Square and it receives direct flights from several countries. It is currently half-way through a NZ$237-million upgrade. The first stage—a new, joint domestic and international check-in hall and first floor food court and retail space—opened in May 2011. New baggage claim areas and aircraft docking areas will be completed by September 2012. The project is slated for completion by 2013. The terminal features everything travelers will need, including boutique shopping, a large food hall, ATMs, currency exchange, help desks, Internet access (with 30 min. free Wi-Fi), car-rental counters, baggage wrapping and storage facilities, postal services, and a Time-Out Zone in the international terminal. The Travel and Tourism Centre (tel. 03/353-7774; www.christchurchairport.co.nz) can help with accommodation, adventure, and transport bookings at no charge. The Christchurch i-SITE Visitor Centre (tel. 03/353-7774;www.christchurchnz.com), also has an outlet at the airport. For further international airport details, check www.christchurchairport.co.nz.
Several shuttle companies operate between the airport and Central City. Super Shuttle (tel. 0800/748-885 in NZ; www.supershuttle.co.nz) runs daily 24 hours and charges NZ$18 to NZ$25. The Red Bus Free City Shuttle Service (tel. 0800/733-287 in NZ; www.redbus.co.nz) has bright yellow shuttle buses that depart from the airport every 15 minutes between 7am and 10pm. Its current city terminus locations are, at time of writing, at the Hospital (Parkside), on Hagley Avenue between St. Asaph Street and Riccarton Avenue; and at temporary stop locations on the south side of Bealey Avenue between Durham Street North and Montreal Street. Keep an eye on the Red Bus website for transportation updates during the city rebuild. For a 20-minute taxi ride from the airport, call First Direct (tel. 03/377-5555), Gold Band (tel. 0800/379-5795), or Green Cabs (tel. 0508/447-336). The fare to Central City should be NZ$40 to NZ$65.
By Train & Coach (Bus)
Train service to and from Christchurch has been greatly reduced as railway companies consolidate their operations. The TranzAlpine (Greymouth), and the TranzCoastal (Picton) are the only two still running. For information, call Tranz Scenic at (tel. 0800/872-467 in NZ, or 03/341-2588; www.tranzscenic.co.nz). The Christchurch Railway Station is on Clarence Street, in Addington. Regular shuttles run from the station to the city.
InterCity (tel. 0800/468-372 in NZ, or 03/365-1113; www.intercity.co.nz) covers most of the South Island, offering service between Christchurch, Dunedin, Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, Greymouth and the West Coast, Wanaka, Queenstown and Mount Cook, Invercargill, Timaru, Picton, and Kaikoura. At press time, InterCity buses were departing from 126 Bealey Ave. There is an airport drop-off for those traveling north (from Queenstown, for example) on InterCity’s Great Sights and Newmans buses. Great Sights is taking people directly to the airport (approximately a 7:30pm drop off) and Newmans is taking passengers to the International Antarctic Centre, which is a short walk from the airport. If you prefer something cheaper, consider joining the younger, backpacking crowd and go with Kiwi Experience (tel. 09/369-9410; www.kiwiexperience.com). Their service to Kaikoura is currently picking up from two Christchurch locations: the International Antarctic Centre, 38 Orchard Rd., near the airport (4pm); and the corner of Bealey Avenue and Papanui Road (2pm). Queenstown travelers will be dropped at the Antarctic Centre at approximately 4pm before the service continues to Kaikoura. Note these arrangements are likely to change, so check the website for updates.
If you’re coming from the north, you’ll drive in on State Highway 1 and enter the city through the northwest suburbs of Papanui and Merivale. It’s 4 to 5 hours from Picton and 2 1/2 hours from Kaikoura. From Dunedin, via Timaru and Ashburton, you’ll also be on State Highway 1. It takes 5 hours from Dunedin, 2 from Timaru. From the southwest, via Lake Tekapo and Geraldine, travel on Highway 79 to Highway 77 and then Highway 73; this takes you to Mount Hutt and over the Rakaia River. If you’re coming from the West Coast, you’ll go over Arthur’s Pass and enter Christchurch at Upper Riccarton. This trip takes 4 hours. Christchurch is 366km (227 miles) north of Dunedin, 350km (217 miles) south of Picton, and 254km (157 miles) southeast of Greymouth.