Update Feb. 2012
Since the 22 February 2011 earthquake neither the tramway nor the gondola are operating.
As the tramway in the city centre has been revived for tourists in 1995 it is not a cheap option to get around, as a bus ticket for two hours just costs you NZ$ 2.80, and you could well walk the loop the tramway covers. But it is nice and even nostalgic.
The tram has 11 stops:
Botanic Gardens and Museum
New Regent Street
The ticket just for the tram costs NZ$ 12.50 and is valid for 2 days.
The tram operates 9am-6pm (April to October) and 9am-9pm (November to March).
Every night at 7.30pm is the departure of the Tramway Restaurant where you can already digest your meal while rattling on the rails... ;-)
If you plan a ride on the tram and the gondola buy a combo ticket. Whereas a single tramway ticket would cost you $ 12.50 and a gondola ticket $18 a combo ticket comes to only $25, so you save $5.50.
All prices as Jan. 2007.
Update Feb. 2012
As the central city is cordoned off since last year's earthquakes the yellow bus and my tip are not needed at the moment...
When you a tired from walking in the city centre the sight of a yellow bus can be rather delightful. It is a service free of charge - and sometimes, on rare occasions, the bus is not yellow... just red because the Red Bus Company runs it... But then you recognise it by the "Free Service" displayed at the front of the bus.
It runs from 7.30/8am to 10.30pm (Sunday only until 8pm) and most time every 10 minutes, so a bus is never far away.
The stops are not identical with the stops of the Metro Bus System but easily recognisable. They are big pastel yellow signs with the red and green S of the Shuttle. At every stop is a map of the route.
In some parts the route is a little tricky as this bus runs a one way route although it runs up and down Colombo Street... but only between Armagh and St. Asaph Street. Between St. Asaph St and Moorhouse Ave it only runs south, then turns left into Moorhouse Ave and back north again in Barbadoes St, then left again into St. Asaph, from where it turns right back into Colombo St.
North of Cathedral Square the one way route leads up to Peterborough St where the bus stops at the Convention Centre and at the Casino, turning into Victoria St and then through Armagh St back into Colombo St.
If you get on the bus in the wrong direction it does not matter. Just use it as a free city sightseeing tour ;-) As it runs mostly on electricity it is even an environmentally friendly service.
Route and timetable on the website.
Update 31 March 2008
In the past weeks I have seen quite some tourists on those yellow buses, with their cameras ready to shoot. Be aware that there is nothing attractive to see south of Cathedral Square, some roads the bus passes are even a bit shabby. Most people use it to go grocery shopping at South City, Pack'n'Save and Moorhouse Central. This is not a sightseeing bus.
I found Adventure motor homes to be better than Britz or maui (chaeper as well) . Make sure you have travel insurance which covers you hiring a car or motorhome . Then you shouldn't need to take out extra insurance on the motorhome as it is already covered in your travel insurance policy.
The red buses are the main public transport around christchurch and its suburbs. It cost $12.50 from the airport, but if you buy a $10 all day ticket you can also go anywhere else you like. Red buses will take you to New Brighton Beach, Lyttleton harbour and the gondola. Just ask the bus driver for the day pass ticket as it is not advertised anywhere.
Although Christchurch is not a big city, it still can be a slog getting around, especially if you're a bit weary from too much sight-seeing.
Christchurch's free shuttle bus is a great way to get across the city. The bright yellow buses provide an excellent service for residents and visitors alike and are justifyably popular - and they can be crowded at some stages during the day - lunch-times especially.
The shuttle runs on a north-south route across the city, from the Casino in the norh to Science Alive in the south, with a small extension north at night. Buses run at 10 minute intervals during the day, every day except Good Friday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day, and every 15 minutes from 7pm-10.30pm
Look out for the yellow bus stops.
The most famous train ride in New Zealand is the Tranzalpine trip from Christchurch to Greymouth on the West Coast.
Crossing the farm land of the Canterbury Plains before heading into the foot hills and crossing the Southern Alps before reaching the coast at Greymouth by travelling through the sub tropical rain forest of the West Coast it is an amazing trip (even for those who grew up there).
Trains leave daily from Christchurch each morning at about 7:30 and reach Greymouth at early afternoon. You can break your trip at Arthurs Pass and either return the same day to Christchurch or continue your journey north or south from Greymouth with connecting buses.
Update March 2010
Everything is getting more expensive, so the Five Dollar Bus has become the Seven Dollar Bus. Just updated this, the rest of the info stays the same.
The slogan of the Seven Dollar Bus is simple: Turn up, hop on, gone within 5 minutes.
Departures from Cathedral Square, next to the Tramway stop on Worcester Blvd, every 20 minutes between 8am and 5pm. As the name of the bus suggests the fare is NZ$7.
As it is a shuttle service you can also get a ride from the airport to the Square.
The buses are mini-buses, not big coaches. As it is a direct service it is the fastest way to get to the airport - apart from taxis.
The fastest public bus (Metro System) would also cost you $7. This is the Airport Flyer which goes directly to the airport from Cathedral Square. This trip takes about 25 minutes.
Between 7am and 8pm departures every 30 minutes from Monday to Friday, on Saturday from 8.35am and on Sunday from 9.05am. Stops outside the Bus Exchange on Lichfield Street, in Gloucester Street opposite the City Library and on Cambridge Terrace by the Bridge of Rememberance.
More info about the public airport bus which operates from 6am to 11pm on weekdays:
It takes only four or five minutes longer to travel on the regular #10 bus (Cashmere - Airport via Bus Exchange; destination: Harewood) which stops several times along the way - but if you have the Metrocard it would cost you only $ 2.70 (otherwise $7 like the other airport bus). On weekdays the first bus leaves at 5.21am at the Bus Exchange, and the last one at 11.40pm.
There are also door to door shuttles which you share with other travellers. The costs range from $12 to 20. Taxis to the city centre cost about $40.
See more details about those shuttles in an extra tip.
There are not many places to stay near the airport if you arrive on a late flight and don't want to have to get a taxi into the city.
We stayed at the Highway Inn which is a motel/truck stop about 5 mins taxi ride from the airport. It's the cheapest place around: 80 NZ$ for a twin room with free tea and coffee 24 hours.
A backpackers is being planned close to the airport but at the mo there's nothing else.
The Highway Inn is clean and tidy although a bit outdated, you just have a room with a sink and share a bathroom & toilet with a few other rooms.
The staff are friendly and helpful and at half past midnight when we arrived they were still there to check us in, overall it was fine - quiet, warm and clean and we didnt see any truckers although quite a few trucks were outside!
It was a 25 NZ$ taxi ride from the airport although that was after midnight so it might be cheaper if you are a bit earlier.
In the morning we walked down Sawyers Arms Road towards the city to Gardiners Road where there is a bus stop - it was about a 30min stroll with a heavy suitcase without wheels! Bus into city centre is every 20 mins or so and cost 3 NZ$.
To save money while travelling around Christchurch (Including most of its outer suburbs) you can go to the Bus Exchange in the city centre and get a metro card - it is free to get this card (Well it was when we went!) and you must top it up with at least $10, this means that you get reduced bus fares, but you also get transfers within two? hours (meaning you can get off somewhere, have a quick look around and get back on another bus within the two hours and you don't pay another fare) they also have maximum daily fares of $3.80 (this is what it was when we went) so you can travel as much as you like on the buses for a whole day for $3.80 which is a pretty good deal!
We used this metro card to take us numerous places, we ended up at Lyttleton, Sumner, New Brighton and pretty much all the big shopping malls in each suburb. The Buses are pretty regular with most buses going the way you want to go arriving every 10 minutes or so on the more popular routes and maybe half an hour for the less popular routes.
The longest we ever waited would have been about 20 minutes on a sunday afternoon.
You do however have to signal to the bus drivers that you want them to pull over or they will keep on going unless someone wants to get off the bus.
Many people are interested in travelling on the TranzAlpine train. It is a spectacular trip from Christchurch to Greymouth or vice-versa.
As the trip leads through the regions of Canterbury and the West Coast, I have posted more information about it on my South Island page, including photo travelogues.
If you do not want to invest $ 40 to 50 for a taxi after a trip on the TranzAlpine train you can use public transportation.
If you want to travel to the city centre you have to take the #51 bus (final destination: New Brighton), and get off at the Bus Exchange. This is just about 100 metres from Cathedral Square.
If you want to go to the airport you have the choice of two bus lines. First the #51 bus, second: the Orbiter.
I recommend to take #51 as it goes to the Bus Exchange, and this stop is easily recognisable and known to every bus driver. (From the Orbiter you have to get off at Memorial Ave - but sometimes the drivers cannot tell you the correct stop.) From there you can travel on the same ticket to the airport by #10 bus (Harewood). You arrive inside the Bus Exchange; departure of the airport bus #10 is outside on the opposite side of Colombo Street.
The other advantage is that the bus will surely wait for the arrival of the TranzAlpine (scheduled for 6.05pm) as the stop is a terminal stop. Scheduled departure is at 6.12pm Mon - Fri and 6.17pm on Sat - no bus at this time on Sunday!
The trip to the Bus Exchange takes 8 minutes - can be some minutes more, but it really is a very short trip. The trip from there to the airport in the #10 bus takes less than 30 minutes. (The special Airport bus costs extra and more and is only a few minutes faster, so no need for that.)
You can check out connections on www.metroinfo.co.nz
BUT: It only gives you results for the Orbiter/#10 trip, not for #51 LOL Really complicated - but in fact very simple. When I asked at the Railway Station which bus they would use they gave me a folder of the #51 bus :-)
Anyway... If you want to check the journey planner you have to type: Tower Junction as the starting point (if you put in Railway Station you get no result - but it is right at Tower Junction). The final destination is: Christchurch International Airport (this is 20 metres from domestic).
When you walk out of the railway station you have to walk to the left, it is less than 100 metres to the bus stop. The final destination of the bus is New Brighton.
And if for whatever reason you miss the bus you can still take the next Orbiter at 6.30pm - or a taxi. At the station they said there are always plenty of taxis for the arrival of the TranzAlpine, and if not, they call more cars. During the day you will not see any taxi there as the TranzAlpine and TranzCoastal are the only trains that stop at the Chch Railway Station.
To carry on with those ridiculous transportation options...
The TranzCoastal arrives at 6.21pm - so no more #51 bus. If you do not want to invest in a taxi you depend on the Orbiter. Airport transfer as above. Transfer to the city centre: Get off at Westfield Riccarton (big shopping mall, every driver can tell you); from there nearly all city bound buses go to the Bus Exchange (## 3, 5, 19, for example).
For the trips to the Railway Station you have to use the Orbiter options as the first #51 buses at the Bus Exchange depart at 7.31am during the week, and 8.56am on Sat/Sun - but the TranzCoastal departs at 7am... The same applies for the TranzAlpine although departure is at 8.15am - but you have to check in half an hour before departure.
What I would do: Taxi from the city centre as it is only a short trip, SuperShuttle for longer trips. Of course, you can also book the SuperShuttle or similar shuttle services for the trip from the Railway Station to the airport.
This town is what I would call "highly walkable". We decided that we should try walking as much as possible while we were here, and it proved to be the best bet. The city is very level, and the pathways are extremely pedestrian friendly, so we found ourselves out-pacing the trams and car systems often. There are also several outdoor malls that are pedestrian only, so we found ourselves getting to our destination quickly.
If you prefer a more formalized approach to your hike, check out the link below for some regulated "city walks".
The Tranzalpine is the train to take for a ride through to Greymouth and the West Coast of the South Island. The trip is just over 220 kilometres long and takes around four and a half hours. There are 16 tunnels and 5 viaducts plus some great scenery - the gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River, the farmland of the Canterbury plains and beech rain forest through the middle of the Alps. The train goes through Otira and Arthurs Pass, both areas of excellent scenery.
The cost is around $200 off season and down to around $150 when Winter comes on. There are normally trips each day in each direction so you can do a round trip in a day if you wish.
This really is a great way to get to the attractions on the outskirts of Christchurch if you do not have a car.
Though, after a new service is now passing at the Willowbank (#11 line extended to Northwood), all attractions the shuttle services can be reached by the public transport system which is much cheaper and there are a lot more buses.
The Black Bus, as this shuttle is called, departs every one and half hours only, once even the gap is two hours. The new buses are very attractive, with huge little blue penguins sitting on the roof - a great advertisement for the Antarctic Centre.
The round round-trip to the three stops at the Antarctic Centre, the Willowbank and the Gondola costs NZ$ 15 per person.
The city stop is at the corner of Cathedral Square and Worcester Street, just across the street from the tramway stop.
City departues towards the Antarctic Centre and the Willowbank from 26 Dec to 20 April start at 9am and end at 5.45pm (to the Gondola). From 21 April to 25 Dec the last departure is at 4.30pm.
The transport fare is $5 to one attraction, $10 to two and $15 to all three attractions.
They also offer packages including the entry fees (which includes a tramway and Hägglund ride at the Antarctic Centre) at $100, and the $140 option includes a Wildlife Cruise at Lyttelton Harbour.
If you want to visit the Willowbank AND Orana Park (which is not on the shuttle route at all) it would be worth considering to hire a car for a day or two, especially if you do not travel alone and the costs add up.
An economical alternative is the Sunshine Shuttle (vans, no big buses) which also starts opposite the Visitor Centre on Cathedral Square. They pick up and drop off on request. Phone (03) 379 1699.
CHC airport is pretty simple and easy to navigate. We came in on a flight from Melbourne and had little trouble clearing customs, collecting our baggage and getting on the road. We flew in on Qantas, but there are plenty of choices when flying to CHC.
The following airports service CHC:
Air New Zealand
We did not spend enough time in the airport to really notice anything out of the ordinary, but it did have all the conviences like Airline Loyalty lounges and the like.
Prior to the earthquakes, I have always stayed in town at some renowned hotel chains. When I was...more
We recently stayed at The Lorenzo Motor Lodge which was fab. The Lorenzo is ideally located on...more
5 stars Luxurious rooms impeccably decorated and enchanting, dreamy honeymoon suites! Has two...more