10 Great Things about Christchurch
What school did you go to? This is not a question I’ve been often asked, until we moved to Christchurch. I left school a decade ago, I didn’t see how much it really defined who I was today or why it would be interesting to anyone. Many Cantabrians have told me it was a way of sizing up socioeconomic status, or simply to see if there is an overlap of social circles. Christchurch posed some challenges as a yuppie relocating with no strong ties to cushion the settling process. It felt conservative, cliquey and disjointed since the big earthquakes. I was missing the hustle bustle and the sub-tropical climate. I guess it just comes down to perspective and what you’re used to though, right? However, seventeen months later, this growing city has grown on me.
Here are 10 things that make Christchurch awesome, from a North Islander’s perspective.
1. Accessibility to both beaches and mountains
Although I am bias to the pristine beaches in the North Island and warmer temperatures, there are still stunning beaches a short drive away in Christchurch. Sumner Beach, Taylors Mistake Bay and New Brighton Beach are all a 20-30 minute drive from central Christchurch. It’s great for an after work swim! If you want to go further afield, you can head towards Banks Peninsula and check out Goughs Bay, Hickory Bay, Magnet Bay and Akaroa Harbour which are all a 1.5 to 2 hour drive from Christchurch.
But you don’t have to wait until Summer to play! For you snow bunnies out there, you can snowboard and ski your heart out. Mount Hutt or Porters ski field are both only 1.5 hour drive from Christchurch. Unsure if the weather will play ball? No biggie, make a call on the day. That’s the beauty of being so close to the mountains. There are plenty of smaller club fields including Ohau, Roundhill and Hanmer Springs ski fields which vary from 2-4 hours’ drive from Christchurch. For those longer vacations, you can drive 6 hours to Queenstown and ski Coronet Peak, Cardrona or Remarkables.
2. Discovering new pop-up places and cafes
After the 2010-11 Christchurch earthquakes, the city has had to be redeveloped and rebuilt from the ground up. Although there is still plenty of work to be done, there are some really awesome pop-ups and hidden gems throughout the city. It’s exciting to be a part of a transforming city and discovering new eateries, shops and cafes you never noticed before. A few of my favourite local cafes are Addington Coffee Co-Op, Lyttleton Coffee Co, Black Betty Café, Dux Dine
3. Street Art
The splashes of wall art throughout the city adds character, life and colour to the place. It’s great fun to spot these around the city.
4. Distinct seasons
You can experience the beauty of all four seasons in Christchurch. From the hot dry summers, crisp cold winters with snowy mountains nearby, falling golden leaves in Autumn to the blooming cherry blossoms and daffodils in Spring.
5. More affordable homes
Buying a home doesn’t have to be a far-fetched dream. In Christchurch, it is much easier to get onto the property ladder as houses are much more affordable in comparison to many cities in the North Island slash Auckland. We know a good handful of people who have bought within the year we have lived here. Your first home can always be a stepping stone to your dream home.
“One property expert said the average asking price for a North Island house is more than $200,000 above the average South Island house”. Here’s an interesting article on the Christchurch housing market.
6. Low-key lifestyle
Christchurch is home to 390,000 residents and is well spread out throughout the suburbs. The city doesn’t feel dense, there’s less crowds, less traffic and offers a more chilled-out environment to live in if you want to escape the rat race, without compromising work opportunities.
7. Walking and cycling is easy!
Christchurch is a flat city with minimal hills, so it is great for an easy stroll or cycling from one place to the next. A lot of people here commute to work on their bike because of this, and there are plenty of cycle lanes catered for cyclists.
8. Gateway to the South Island
There are so many breathtaking and amazing places to explore in the South Island. From the turquoise lakes, grand mountains, rivers, ski fields, beaches, and quaint townships. Christchurch is a great hub to be in for easy access to various spots in the South Island.
9. An outdoor playground
There aren’t many places in the world where you can ski and surf on the same day. Christchurch is one of them, but the water will be cold so make sure you wear a thick wetsuit! There’s also easy access to hiking, mountain biking and water sports so you’ll never fall short on choice of outdoor activities.
10. Hagley Park
Hagley Park is an open urban space of almost 165 hectares, located in the centre of Christchurch. The park is perfect for running, cycling, hosting summer festivals, yoga, sports, tennis, golf and is used as a cricket ground. The Botanic gardens is also a huge part of Hagley Park and is absolutely beautiful and worth checking out!
Christchurch has recently opened up a new Adventure Bike Park nestled in the Port Hills. There are chairlifts which take you to the top of the bike trails, and a café if you just want to chill and enjoy the Pine forest views (sounds like me!). I have yet to check it out, but friends have raved about it. I can’t wait to see what other new surprises Christchurch will bring next!