Christchurch (Photo:Evgeny Gorodetsky/Shutterstock)
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Cruise Critic Staff

Port of Christchurch

Editor's Note: Cruise ships have not called at Christchurch since the 2011 earthquake that destroyed its pier. Ships now dock at Akaroa, more than an hour's drive away. A new cruise berth at Lyttelton Port is expected to be rebuilt in time for the 2019-2020 summer season.

Christchurch could qualify as a template for the perfect small city. With a population of around 350,000, it's the largest of New Zealand's South Island cities -- it's also the most English looking in appearance. Unsurprising, when you realise that Christchurch was envisioned as a planned community for the Church of England in the 1850s.

Nearby, the stunning gold and green Canterbury Plains, back-dropped by mountains and with a web of indigo streams, are so familiar that many "The Lord of the Rings" fans now recognise them as Middle Earth.

Visitors to Christchurch don't need to consciously avoid the subject of devastating earthquakes that hit the city between 2010 and 2012. Many reminders remain, but residents are stoically independent, and Kiwis (the people, not the bird) tend to be a positive lot.

Rebuilding began almost immediately but progress was slow. Extensive plans for the next decade or more aim to create an accessible and liveable city. Shops, cafes and bars have returned in force, as have visitors.

Remaining intact, of course, is the languidly winding Avon River, its banks flanked by parks and gardens. Punts still drift along it -- along with their punters in waistcoats and straw boater hats.

As always, the seasons come and go, with spring and autumn each a delight in this leafy city, which is often accurately referred to as the Garden City. Much still remains from the past, and the many new additions to the city are fascinating and well worth seeing.

About Christchurch


This small city is home to pretty and serene attractions such as the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, one of the largest parks in the world


Cruise ships must dock at Akaroa, which is more than an hour's drive from Christchurch.

Bottom Line

Spend a leisurely day exploring art galleries and parks in endlessly charming Christchurch.

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Where You're Docked

Many ships anchor and tender to Akaroa, a 1.5-hour drive from Christchurch. However, more ships are calling at Lyttelton (population 3,100), about 20 minutes (eight miles) from Christchurch's city centre. Lyttelton is a working port city with its own character and charm and serves as a commuter community for Christchurch.

Good to Know

As you should in any travel destination, be aware of your surroundings, and leave all unnecessary valuables onboard in your cabin's safe.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

Currency is the New Zealand dollar. ATMs and foreign exchange offices are abundant in the city centre.


The official language is English. People who have travelled in the north of New Zealand might find the Kiwi accent is not as pronounced in the South Island. Some of this is because of the higher proportion of Scottish and English residents who settled the area.


Look for New Zealand-made merino products, including sweaters, scarves, hats, undergarments and more. Also super-soft socks, gloves and mittens, made from wool mixed with possum fur. Also, New Zealand arts and craft and souvenirs are of the highest standard, featuring distinctive Maori and Islander designs, fine wood or bone carving and artisan workmanship.

42 Below Vodka is named for New Zealand's latitude of 42 degrees south of the equator, and the nation's premium brand vodka comes in flavours like manuka honey, kiwi and feijoa (a fruit similar to a guavasteen), as well as passionfruit and plain.