The largest city on the South Island of New Zealand and the second largest in the country, Christchurch is known as a gateway for people wanting to explore the South Island and all its wonders. Today, the city is known as a place where English heritage runs through its veins, as evident in the city’s Cathedral. On the edge of the Canterbury Plains, Christchurch is also known for being a city where plant life flourishes. In actual fact, it has a reputation for being New Zealand’s most prominent ‘garden city’, something that becomes instantly believable as soon as seeing the city’s skyline. It’s also a resilient place, working almost as normal despite suffering two recent earthquakes.
Despite recent troubles, a typical family saloon is ideal for driving around Christchurch, particularly in and around the city centre and its uncomplicated grid system.
Driving in Christchurch
Road Driving Side
Urban Speed Limit
Rural Speed Limit
Motorway Speed Limit
Important things to note
Since earthquakes in 2011 and 2012, some parts of Christchurch are still cordoned off. Avoid the Red Zone at all costs.
If you’re unsure of where you can and cannot go, visiting the city’s Tourist Information Centre is perhaps the best thing to do.
Drivers in Christchurch must approach State Highway One with caution – during rush hours, getting into and out of the city via this road can take a while.
Highlights & Hotspots
Christchurch Art Gallery, built just a decade ago, is one of the largest in New Zealand. Due to its size, it has over 5,000 different works and rolling exhibitions. The exterior alone will leave you open-mouthed in awe, being one of the most striking buildings in the city.
The Botanic Gardens on Rolleston Avenue are a quiet place where you can contemplate what to do next on your stay here while marvelling at the various species of flower on display. They typically open at 7am every morning, although closing hours vary depending on sunset times.
Staying with plants, Riccarton Bush is one of few places where you can see native New Zealand forestlands up close. By foot, you’re able to see native plants such as Kahikatea trees, not to mention Dean’s Cottage, the city’s oldest house.
Anyone wanting to drive along a scenic road would do well to traverse the Summit Road. Here, you drive along the crest of the Port Hills, separating Christchurch from nearby Lyttleton Harbour. Along the way, you can see the harbour and the glistening water.
Christchurch International Airport is the main airport serving the South Island. It‚Äôs seven miles northwest of the city centre, has one main passenger terminal and serves destinations across Oceania and Asia.
The airport is located alongside State Highway One, which takes you north and south. To get to the city centre, you must drive onto Memorial Avenue eastbound, go onto Fendalton Road and then, you‚Äôre there.