Getting There, Christchurch
If you want to start or end your NZ trip in Christchurch, or both, the most comfortable way of getting here is by chosing an airline that flies directly to Christchurch, and not via Auckland, check out the luggage, check it in again, and then walk or shuttle from the International Airport to the Domestic Airport. Immigration procedures in Christchurch normally go faster as less flights arrive.
Before being able to test Air Asia after 1 April 2011, my number one airline from Europe has been Singapore Airlines. For example, you board in Frankfurt or London, have a not too long stop in Singapore, and on it goes. In less than 24 hours you are in Christchurch.
The service aboard is fabulous - and much better than I have experienced with Emirates which also services Christchurch directly. The airport in Singapore is a million times better and more comfortable than Dubai where the people were lying all over the place, so you can really relax until the flight goes on, with a massage, shower or swim, on a lounger or stretched out over several seats. Not to speak of the innumerable shops, restauants and cafés. As Singapore Airlines is a Star Alliance member you have a lot of possibilities to use your airpoints, whereas it does not help a lot that Emirates has an alliance with Air Lanka...
The Emirates flight s not a real direct flight from Dubai as the Christchurch flight has an additional stop in Sydney. (The Auckland flight is via Melbourne.)
All Air Zealand flights go via Auckland. Qantas, of course, stops in Sydney.
Direct flights to destinations in Australia are also with Pacific (Virgin) Blue and Jetstar, to the South Pacific with Pacific Blue and Air Pacific, and Air New Zealand to the Cook Islands.
Domestic airline services are with Air New Zealand, Qantas and Pacific (Virgin) Blue. In June/July. From June 2009 JetStar operates flights to Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown, and replaces Qantas on those itineraries.
Update May 2008
I threw out some small airlines that do not operate anymore.
Update April 2009
There are no more direct flights to Christchurch with Korean Air.
Update July 2010
You do not have to pay the NZ$ 25 departure fee before international flights anymore. The fee is now included in the ticket price.
Update 25 March 2012
The Air Asia dream is over
Air Asia has just announced that it will discontinue its direct (and cheap) flights between Kuala Lumpur and Christchurch at the end of May 2012. This follows the earlier decision to cancel the routes from KL to Paris and London at the end of this month. Sky-rocketing fuel prices were given as the reason for the end of the service.
The short success story below.
Update 27 April 2011 - and update of the update 17 January 2012
AIR ASIA FLIGHTS TO CHRISTCHURCH
Kuala Lumpur-based budget airline Air Asia has been flying to Christchurch since 1 April 2011. Paris and London are the European cities from where you can fly to Christchurch via Kuala Lumpur. However, the service from Kuala Lumpur to Paris and London will be discontinued by the end of March 2012. The company names high fuel prices and less demand in Europe as the reason for stopping this service. (What a shame! I had planned to use AirAsia this year to Paris, spend a few days there, and after that carry on to my final destination in Germany by train...)
So - as a tourist from Asia you will be unaffected by the change, and if you can get a cheapish flight from Europe to KL you can still use AirAsia for the leg between KL and Christchurch. The company claims that they cut the prices of major airlines by 50 per cent. I had checked out their flights on a regular base and they were really a lot cheaper than Air NZ and comparable competitors.
You can book flights online and in travel agencies:
Update 31 October 2011
Air New Zealand has just launched direct flights between Christchurch and Japan. There are three flights per week.
Once again I will pour out praise for Air New Zealand! I flew to and from Christchurch in September on Air New Zealand and enjoyed the personal touches that Air New Zealand is managing to retain despite the pressing economic pressures that face our little airline these days. It may sound silly, but the impact of stepping aboard a domestic flight and being greeted by name by a flight attendant, who only had a few seconds looking at your boarding pass, makes a passenger feel very welcome. That's the difference between a good airline and an average one.
On Air New Zealand's domestic services you do get complimentary tea, coffee, or water (and not just one cup), along with a cookie.
We flew into Christchurch from the Gold Coast, Australia. I didn't have my camera with me in the plane, and I missed out on the most beautiful views of the mountains and the paddocks with their crops and the ones ploughed up. I bought the postcard to remind me how nice it was. Its exactly like the postcard, breathtaking scenery, so keep the Camera and Video with you so you can take some photos.
The airport being so small closes during the day airside so you'll need to go through customs and immigration if you are laying over for an evening flight.
Located just a short distance from town it is easily accessible by bus.
The Airport Bus takes you direct from Christchurch airport into the Cathedral Square in the middle of town. Cost is $7 so it's a cheapish ride though you have to carry your bag - the $5 bus is a cheaper option so check that out first.
Once in the Square you are on Worcester St and, unless you have accommodation booked you have a couple of easy options - cross the road and past Simply NZ to the Information Centre where the team will find you a bed or you can go straight ahead from the bus stop and past the Police Kiosk, cross at the pedestrian crossing and go right - there is a backpackers in the corner, beside Warners. If you want a YHA, go left at the pedestrian crossing, right onto Glocester St and left onto Manchester St - a walk of about 5 minutes - the YHA is on the left hand side of the road, just past the Fish and Chip shop.
This is a great service as other writers have stated:
1.Operates 8.00am to 5.00pm, Depart every 20 minutes: Square to Airport / Airport to Square
2.Cheaper than catching the "Red Bus" to the airport
3.Cheaper than the 'Super Shuttle Service" to the airport
4.Direct Serivce ...takes about 18 Minutes to the Airport
5.Located in Cathedal Sqaure, at the "Tour Coach Stand"
By Air : Ansett and Air New Zealand both fly domestically to Christchurch. Mt Cook Airlines also fly from resort areas. Most international flights go to Christchurch via Auckland, some go direct. There is a Super Shuttle as well as Taxis and it takes about 20-minutes into the city.
By Train : Trains To Christchurch run from Dunedin, Greymouth, Te Anau, Franz Joseph and Fox Glacier. The train station is on Moorhouse Avenue.
By Car : It is easy to drive around Christchurch but because it’s so flat, the best way to explore is to walk around the city area.
By Bicycle : Bikes are a popular way to get around, and they can be hired. Many roads have cycling lanes and the Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park have cycling paths. You can get biking maps from the tourist centre at Worcester St and Oxford Tce.
By Tram : Take a tram around the city sightseeing.
I flew with QANTAS from Sydney to Christchurch and again with QANTAS from Queenstown to Christchurch. I was very satisfied with their service. They serve free food. If the flight is long then they will service a meal according to the time. You can get some good deals from their website or the seasonal offers otherwise try the skyscanner link below to find a cheaper fare.
Alternative to the Airport Bus is the $5 Bus that travels between the Square and Airport. This is a bit faster than the bus but doesn't travel as often. The vehicles are really mini-vans so take less passengers but move a bit quicker. The pick up point in the Square is across from the Tram Stop - you can't miss it. The cost, amazingly is $5.
As per my Airport bus tip, if you need to arrange a place to stay when you get to the Square - cross the road and past Simply NZ to the Information Centre where the team will find you a bed. Alternativelyr you can go straight ahead from the bus stop and past the Police Kiosk, cross at the pedestrian crossing and go right - there is a backpackers in the corner, beside Warners. If you want a YHA, go left at the pedestrian crossing, right onto Glocester St and left onto Manchester St - a walk of about 5 minutes - the YHA is on the left hand side of the road, just past the Fish and Chip shop.
Virgin Blue airline is operated as domestic flight service in Australia. However, under VB, they do operate the pacific blue catering the flights to New Zeland too. Prices to Chirstchurch aren't that expensive. I paid about AU$400 2 way for the 3 hour flight. The prices are subjected to different dates and times of flight scheduled.
No meals are provided as you have to pay for what you want to eat on board. In flight entertainment can be purchased on board too.
When I flew to Christchurch I was travelling from Auckland in the North Island. I flew on Air New Zealand. The flight took a little over an hour. The service on Air New Zealand was excellent.
Fares have come down in price over the years and I recommend this airline if you are ever travelling to or within New Zealand.
The best and cheapest way to reach your hotel from Christchurch airport is by small-shared van which only cost NZ$8 per person and will drop you off at your hotel's door.
You can also ask the driver to pick you up from your hotel and drive you to the airport. Just tell him/her your flight schedule and he/she will manage the appropriate time so you could catch your flight. A very convenient way!
We flew Air New Zealand one way, and I have to say, at only 3 3/4 hours to Melbourne, it was a very nice short flight.
We had the latest movie to watch (Master and Commander) plus a good documentary about the making of Lord of the Rings.
The food on board was nice, and for dessert we even had Hokey Pokey icecream (which if I remember from my childhood is a bit of a NZ specialty).
Air New Zealand has the most domestic service to Christchurch from almost anywhere in the country. You can even get to the Chatham Islands from here.
As far as international flights, Christchurch is the gateway to the South Island, and Air New Zealand has the most flights. Qantas has plenty of flights from Australia and the USA. You will rack up some good frequent flyer miles getting here.
Chirstchurch airport has both national and international departures.
Facilities: Koru Club lounge, Pizza Hut, Cheers Bar, duty free shops, bookstore, gift shops, wheelchair.disabled/baby changing facilities.
Main domestic airlines flying: Air New Zealand, Origin Pacific, Qantas, Freedom Air.
If you've got a bit of a wait, follow the penguin flipperprints to find the Antarctic Centre