48 hours in Christchurch & surrounds for nature lovers

The largest city in New Zealand’s South Island, Christchurch is popularly known as the Garden City thanks to the city’s beautiful tree-lined streets and trimmed gardens. While the city is famous for its fast growth and innovative architecture, every year nature lovers travel from all around the world to capture Christchurch’s picturesque beauty and surrounding natural wonders. Here’s how travellers can enjoy Christchurch and its surrounds in just 48 hours.

Day 1

8am: Grab breakfast with a view

Located over half a kilometre away from Christchurch Botanic Gardens, Boatshed Café is a cute café that offers a range of breakfast options as well as amazing fresh coffee. The best part about stopping here for a bite is the view of the Avon River. What better way to start your day?

10am: Punting on the Avon River

Nature lovers will find punting on the Avon as the number one attraction while in Christchurch. The scenic route makes this 30-minute ride along Avon River totally worth it. Hop on a punt at the historic Antigua Boat Sheds landing and enjoy the informative commentary about the history of Christchurch.

48 hours in Christchurch
Image courtesy Graeme Murray

11am: Explore Christchurch’s world-famous Botanic Gardens

Get ready for a tour around the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and discover some of the most exotic flora and fauna native to New Zealand. With over a million visitors each year, it’s no wonder that these gardens are also number one in the list of things to do in Christchurch.

1pm: Grab lunch at Christchurch’s iconic Terrace Tavern

This contemporary restaurant offers a wide range of kiwi flavours especially its wagyu beef, local cheeses and fish. On a sunny day, enjoy outdoor seating overlooking the Avon River or dine in with friends on a cold night – either way, visitors are bound to make unforgettable memories at the iconic Terrace Tavern.

3pm: Enjoy the breathtaking view from the Christchurch Gondola

There’s something truly unique about experiencing the Christchurch Gondola ride. An exhilarating destination for both adventure seekers and nature lovers alike, the Christchurch Gondola overlooks the scenic city of Christchurch and picturesque views of the Southern Alps and Banks Peninsula. Browse through souvenirs at the Shop at the Top after snacks from the Red Rock Café, or visit the Time Tunnel ride for an informative commentary about the history of this incredible region.

6pm: Book dinner at Diamond Harbour

What better way to end the day than with the local specialty at the Fisherman’s Wharf Lyttelton. There’s nothing much like the fresh seafood sizzle plate that includes a selection of fresh fish, squid, mussels and scallops served with jasmine rice and garden salad. Vegetarians can choose for a range of dishes and opt for gluten–free options too. On a sunny day, enjoy outdoor dining and a view of the beautiful Diamond Harbour.

Day 2

8am: Gear up for a road trip to Timaru

Make a head start to Timaru, a cute port town in the southern Canterbury region of New Zealand. The best part about the journey from Christchurch to Timaru is the possibility of being able view the Southern Alps in the backdrop – on a clear day, of course.

11am: Make a stop at the Caroline Bay Beach

It’s no surprise that Caroline Bay (also locally known as ‘The Bay’) Beach has been voted as the number one attraction in Timaru. In fact, a few years ago, it was voted as the most popular beach in the South Island. Today, the beach has multipurpose use and is the perfect destination for kids and adults alike as it consists of children’s playgrounds and dedicated outdoor sports areas.

48 hours in Christchurch

1pm: Time for lunch at a local gem

Who wouldn’t want to have a view overlooking Caroline Bay and mountains? Opt to be seated on the terrace of Fusion Restaurant Cafe & Bar and choose from some of the most popular local dishes such as battered or pan fried fish and chips. The restaurant’s menu also includes options for vegetarians and vegans.

3pm: Last stopover: Timaru Botanic Gardens

Nature lovers will enjoy this oasis near the city centre. Known to have a fine collection of Old Roses, the Timaru Botanic Gardens is the perfect destination for plant lovers as they get to explore and capture the beauty of the Anderson Rose Garden in the vicinity.

5pm: Return to Christchurch

Visitors can make their way back to their base in Christchurch is just about 2 hours via the SH 1 highway. Just in time for a late dinner, choose from one of several amazing restaurants in the city.

Need a place to stay?

Convenient accommodation options in Christchurch include Quality Hotel Elms and Comfort Inn Riccarton NZ – both situated close to the international airport and a short drive from the heart of the Christchurch CBD. With its location in the events district of Addington, Econo Lodge Canterbury Court is another great option to consider while booking your accommodation.  

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