This is the heart of Christchurch conservatism and money—the southern equivalent of Auckland’s Remuera. You’ll find wonderful old homes and beautiful tree-lined streets, but its retail center is small, unimaginative, and easily bypassed altogether in favor of Merivale shopping. You’ll find few accommodations in this area.
Those among the moneyed set who consider themselves a little more contemporary throng to Merivale to shop and eat. Located between Papanui and the inner city, Merivale is an attractive suburb, close to the heart of things; it offers a good number of B&Bs along with "Motel Mile," which stretches south along Papanui Road from Merivale Mall to Bealey Avenue. Always safe, in all senses of the word, it is a pleasant place to be, and you can walk here from the heart of the city in about 30 minutes. Papanui is a little further north on Papanui Road. This is where you’ll find the large shopping mall of Northlands and a few cafes and bars.
This older suburb lies adjacent to Merivale to the east—some would call it the poor man’s Merivale, but now that most of the old villas have been significantly renovated, real-estate prices are a little out of the "poor" league. There is no real retail heart here and just a few lodgings—predominantly at the Bealey Avenue end of the suburb, where there is another good selection of motels.
While the core of the central city was badly damaged in the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, some businesses, attractions, cafes, and accommodations are operating in un-cordoned areas. More will come on stream as the city rebuild gets underway. If you can, stay in the area bounded by the four main avenues: Deans, Bealey, Moorehouse, and Fitzgerald, as it will put you in a good position to walk to most places.
Hagley Park/Botanic Gardens
Theoretically still the inner city, this compact area just west of the central business district is easily defined by its proximity to Hagley Park and the Botanic Gardens. It is generally the area west of Montreal Street, along Park Avenue, and through to Deans Avenue on the west side of the park. You’ll find excellent accommodations and some of the major attractions, such as the Canterbury Museum and the new Art Gallery. It’s a 5-to 10-minute walk along Worcester Boulevard to the Square.
Riccarton is on the western side of Hagley Park, and since the earthquakes, it has become an important retail and entertainment center. It has a huge shopping mall, a proliferation of cheap Asian restaurants, plus general shopping, and lots of motels and cafes. The area between Riccarton and Fendalton is known as Ilam, and this is where you’ll find Canterbury University tucked into a beautiful leafy enclave.
Once a holiday spot for Christchurch residents, Sumner has long since become a suburb of the city itself. It’s a delightful place about 15 to 30 minutes from the city depending on traffic. The neighborhood is characterized by steep hillsides dotted with prime real estate with stunning views of the city and coast, as well as by quaint holiday homes that still sit near the beach. It’s easily accessed by bus. Unfortunately, the village was badly battered in the earthquakes and many of its shops, cafes, and restaurants have been seriously damaged or demolished. But it’s still a great place to visit in summer, when young surfers gather on The Esplanade, and there’s volleyball and beach fun aplenty.
On the way to Sumner, you pass the shopping area of Ferrymead, which, as a result of the quakes, has become the primary restaurant, bar, cafe, and shopping area for this part of the city.
This is a quaint port village over the Port Hills from Christchurch, a 20-to 30-minute drive away. Sadly, it too was severely damaged in the earthquakes and much of its main street has been demolished. The good new is that it is also one of the first suburban areas scheduled for rebuilding so by the time this book reaches the shelves, it may well be up and running again. Regardless, it’s still an interesting half-day trip to drive through the tunnel to see the South Island’s largest port. The port was extensively damaged during the earthquakes and to keep it running, it is now being extended, using millions of tons of city earthquake rubble to reclaim land at the north end of port.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.