Christchurch is a city that's on the up. The 2011 earthquakes put things on hold for a little while, but now the city is coming back and it's better than ever. New buildings are constantly popping up all over the place, and with all this development, the hospitality and arts scenes in particular have really taken off. Fresh new cafés and restaurants have made their mark on the central city with a variety of slick, contemporary joints and eclectic, organic institutions. Take your pick and find somewhere to suit your vibe.
Once Christchurch was ruled by the suburban shopping malls, however boutique shopping has made a resurgence and there are a few great options to check out. In terms of art, there are plenty of independent art galleries that are great to wander around, and the long awaited reopening of the iconic Christchurch Art Gallery is great for a rainy afternoon.
Crisp, cool, and dry in the winter, Christchurch is positioned only an hour's drive from a number of wicked ski fields, making it a sweet base for a ski or snowboarding holiday. The developing Christchurch Adventure Park will be another spot to get your adrenaline fix.
Its central location on the South Island also makes it the gateway to some of New Zealand's most incredible scenery. Hot, dry nor'westers keep the temperature up in the summer, and with the city's proximity to a number of beaches and little seaside villages there's heaps to keep you occupied.
Best time to go
Christchurch has a temperate, relatively dry climate with fewer rainy days than other New Zealand cities. Overnight frosts are quite common during winter. The legendary nor'wester - a dry fohn wind coming off the Southern Alps - can raise temperatures up to 15 degrees in an hour.
How much will it cost
The strength of the Kiwi dollar means New Zealand has overall costs comparable to most developed countries. At the low end, budget NZD $150 per day for a holiday travelling on bus passes, camping and staying in budget accommodation. If you're visiting for more than a few weeks, buying a cheap car or camper van can be a cost-effective way of seeing the country.
With no snakes or otherwise dangerous animals, your biggest risk might be sunburn caused by the strong summer UV. New Zealand has an excellent healthcare system and all visitors are covered for medical treatment resulting from accidents. Any costs from illness will need to covered by your travel insurance.
Citizens from over 50 countries, including Australia, the UK, USA and most European countries, do not need to apply for a visitor's visa, and can stay in New Zealand for up to three months. A range of business, work, study and other visas are also available.