CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND
Wow! New Zealand. What a country. If you ever have the opportunity to go - you must!
Now I am not suggesting, like we often do with our blog posts, a short weekend away. This of course is not a hop, skip and a jump from the UK. In fact it took me a full 24 hours from leaving my flat in London to walking through my hotel door in Christchurch. Yes the jet lag is horrid, so if you're going to travel as far as NZ, make a long trip of it and incorporate other places on the North and South Island, or some of the Pacific Islands.
For the purposes of this post though, i'm going to spotlight CC. I was lucky enough to go there on a work trip so spent 4 days in CC before heading up to the North Island to stay with family near Hamilton. Sadly I didn't have time to do any of the fabulous activities I hear you can do on the South Island, but I can give you a quick guide to the city itself.
Unlike a lot of cities, certainly in Europe, I wouldn't say cuisine is very high on the list of recommendations for CC. There are some nice restaurants but I won't be recommending those. There are however brilliant coffee spots, in fact more than a few, so I would definitely suggest nice early nights (Kiwis don't really do late nights out!) and getting up for sunrise and some caffeine.
CC Top 10:
1. A walk through Hagley Park and the Botanic Gardens - this a beautiful route, do it when the sun is shining
2. Punting on the River Avon - if it's warm
3. In not-so-good weather, a walk around the Christchurch City Library is actually quite spectacular
4. As is a tour on the cute little Tramway (hop on just outside the Cathedral)
5. You cannot miss the Christchurch Cathedral, which remains a badly-damaged signature of the 2011 earthquake
6. For more historical learning take a blue line double decker bus ride from the city centre to Sumner Beach - this route takes you through the 'red zone' where more than 6000 homes were demolished by the 2011 earthquake, you also get the opportunity to go into the Port Hills for stunning views onto the city
8. Go for a sunny outdoor lunch on New Regent Street
9. For a dose of high-end culture, head to the Christchurch Art Gallery
10. For some outdoor art just walk around the city with your eyes open - there's plenty of it!
For a very good value and centrally-located hotel, I went with Rydges Latimer, it's quite business-like but has a good restaurant with delicious steak and red wine on the menu.
Getting to and from the airport is very easy in an Uber. For travel around the city I mainly walked but bike or Uber would also be very easy.
Remember the currency is the NZ Dollar and take layers if you're going in the winter, the daytime can be deceivingly warm if the sun's out and the evenings very chilly!