By international standards, Christchurch is a small city but in the context of New Zealand it is a major centre and the commercial hub of the South Island.
Christchurch is known as ‘the garden city’ because of its many parks and tree lined streets. Christchurch is a low-rise city and most people live in detached houses or townhouses with a small number of apartments in the central city.
Christchurch is a fantastic base for accessing the outdoor pursuits on offer in New Zealand. It is the only major city in New Zealand with close proximity to both ski fields and the ocean. Popular tourist attractions within three hours’ drive of Christchurch include Kaikoura, Hanmer Springs and Akaroa.
Christchurch has around eight ski fields within two hours’ drive of the city. The most popular ski field is Mt Hutt Ski field, but there are plenty of club ski fields as well which offer more challenging slopes for experienced skiers.
World-class hiking is also on offer within a few hours’ drive from the city. Hiking areas include St James Conservation Area and Arthurs Pass National Park which both offer spectacular mountain scenery or Banks Peninsula which offers tranquil views of surrounding bays and farmland within an hour’s drive of the city.
In the city itself, the Port Hills on the southern edge of the city offers numerous walks which many residents use on a daily basis. The top of the Port Hills offers spectacular views of both Christchurch City and Lyttelton Harbour. Numerous mountain biking tracks exist on both the Port Hills and in Bottle Lake Forest on the northern edge of the city.
Christchurch also has several beaches including New Brighton, Sumner and Taylors Mistake which are popular with surfers, fishers and in the summer, swimmers.
Hagley Park which is just west of the central city is the largest inner city park in New Zealand and offers a range of facilities for netball, hockey, rugby, cricket, golf and many other sports. It also houses the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and Hagley Oval, the major cricket venue in Christchurch. Hagley Oval normally hosts international cricket matches a few times a year. Many other areas of the park are used simply for walking, cycling or relaxing outdoors. Smaller parks and recreational sport facilities exist throughout the city.
Christchurch is well known for its successful Super Rugby team, the Crusaders who play regularly at AMI Stadium from February through to June. All Blacks test matches are also normally played once or twice a year at AMI Stadium. International concerts are played regularly at nearby Horncastle Arena. Artists who have visited in the past year include The Foo Fighters, Ed Sheeran and Maroon 5 amongst others. Christchurch is also home to a number of annual events including the World Buskers Festival, the Christchurch Lantern Festival, and Christmas in the Park. These events are provided mostly free of charge by the Christchurch City Council (CCC). A full list of CCC sponsored events can be found here.
Christchurch’s bar, restaurant and nightlife scene has experienced a major revival in the last few years with the opening of many new establishments in the central city and inner city suburbs. New Regent Street, Lincoln Road and Riccarton Road are three areas which host a number of bars and restaurants. Stranges Lane, Victoria Street and The Strip (which is soon to be re-opened) offer several nightlife options. Shopping malls are also abundant in Christchurch with Riccarton Mall and Northlands Mall the largest and most popular in the city.
For those with families, the recently opened Margaret Mahy Family Playground is the perfect place to let your children run off energy and once they are worn out, head over to New Regent Street for a relaxing coffee.
Christchurch was hit by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake in February 2011 which caused major damage, particularly in the central city. Rebuild progress was slow at first but the pace has picked up in recent years. Much of the central city is in the process of being rebuilt and major civic facilities such as the Christchurch Art Gallery and the Hagley Cricket Oval have been re-opened or opened with brand new fittings.
Click here to see footage of some of the attractions which have already re-opened following the earthquake.
The Abley office is located in Sydenham which is just south of the central city. Each part of the city has a slightly different character but generally differences are minor. Christchurch City has a number of freestanding houses, townhouses and apartments available for rent and offers an inner-city lifestyle close to many civic facilities.
In terms of the other suburbs near the Abley office; Sydenham, Waltham, Riccarton, St. Albans, Opawa, and Richmond are working class suburbs and have a large number of dwellings available for rent. Addington and Spreydon are also generally working class but have become popular in recent years because of their proximity to major city facilities. Beckenham, Fendalton, Merivale, St. Martins and Somerfield have higher-rates of home ownership and are generally slightly wealthier than the other suburbs listed.
Housing stock can be of variable quality in all suburbs (even wealthier ones) so it pays to inspect the house before you move in. In particular it pays to check that the house has a heat pump or legal fireplace (Christchurch has restrictions on fireplaces), double glazing and full insulation. TradeMe is a popular website for finding a rental.
If you are looking to rent accommodation, it is not unusual for rentals to be shared amongst a number of people, commonly referred to as flatmates. The number of flatmates you have can vary from as few as one and up to four or five people. This helps with sharing accommodation and living costs.
Christchurch has a mild climate by world standards but like most New Zealand cities, the weather can be quite variable. Summers are generally dry with mild maximum temperatures around 22°C (72°F) and lows around 12°C (54°F) but it is common for temperatures to exceed 30°C (85°F) on some days. Winters are cool by New Zealand standards with daytime maximum temperatures around 11°C (52°F) and minimum temperatures around 1°C (34°F). Frost is common in the winter months but snowfall and temperatures below -5°C (23°F) are rare. Like most New Zealand cities, Christchurch gets a fair amount of wind but generally winds are not strong. By New Zealand standards, Christchurch is dry with only around 500mm (20 inches) of precipitation falling annually.
Christchurch has a comprehensive bus network and major routes operate every 10 minutes. Most bus routes converge at the central bus station which is a 10 minute walk from the Abley office. Commuting via bus is generally straightforward but can be tricky if you choose to live on the outskirts of the city. Most households own a car even if they commute by bus or bike as many areas (particularly areas outside of Christchurch) are inaccessible by public transport.
Cycling is a great way to get around in Christchurch because of the dry weather and flat topography. Christchurch has a high uptake of cycling by New Zealand standards and the mode share possessed by cyclists is ever increasing. The Christchurch City Council is currently designing and building several major cycle ways along commuter routes as well as a number of separated cycling facilities in the central city. Cycle lanes are common on major streets and off-road cycle paths are found in most parks.
Click here to see footage of the spectacular Canterbury region.