Posted: 2/10/24 | February 10th, 2024
The second-largest city in New Zealand (and the largest on the South Island), Christchurch is filled with cool markets, funky bars, and lots of new and trendy restaurants. It’s a relaxed destination perfect for a couple of days of exploring and taking in the pace of local life.
Having been severely damaged by earthquakes between 2010 and 2012, it is revitalized now. And, while there’s not a whole lot to see and do here (only 380,000 people live here after all), it’s by no means a boring destination. There’s fun nightlife, many museums, and tons of green space where you can lounge away the day or go hiking.
To help you decide where to stay in Christchurch, I’ll highlight the best neighborhoods below as well as some of my favorite hotels in each area. (That said, Christchurch is pretty compact and you can easily walk around most of it.)
Where to Stay in Christchurch for First-Time Visitors: Christchurch Central
This is the heart of town, also known as City-Centre or the CBD. You can walk to many of the main sights from here, including the botanical gardens, the Canterbury Museum, the sprawling Hagley Park, and the historic hop-on/hop-off vintage tram. It’s also where you’ll find the most restaurants. While many of Christchurch’s main hotels and much of its shopping is here, the majority of hostels are here too, making it a fun and affordable district in which to stay.
Best places to stay in Central:
- BUDGET: Urbanz Christchurch – This lively, social hostel has a bar with some of the cheapest beer in town, making it a fun place to stay if you want to meet people. There’s a large kitchen, as well as a big common area (with a fireplace) where you can watch movies or play pool. The beds don’t have privacy curtains, but they do have really thick mattresses. There are lockers and plenty of outlets in the dorm rooms too. It’s one of my favorite hostels in the country.
- MIDRANGE: Carnmore Hotel – This is a modern, stylish four-star hotel within walking distance of everything in the neighborhood. The rooms are bright and spacious, with colorful wallpaper and a simple, minimalist design. The beds are comfy, and the rooms include a TV, desk, and coffee/tea maker. The showers have excellent water pressure.
- LUXURY: The Observatory Hotel – This luxe five-star hotel is located in a massive, palatial building once home to an actual observatory. It’s a boutique property with just 33 rooms, each featuring antique touches and a unique, colorful decor. The rooms (and bathrooms) are large and airy, and the beds are incredibly comfortable. The lounge is particularly stunning, with exposed brick walls and hardwood floor.
Where to Stay in Christchurch for Foodies: Merivale
This hip suburb is where you’ll find lots of cool cafés, trendy boutiques, and chic restaurants. It’s primarily a residential area, so there aren’t many hotels here, giving the neighborhood a less bustling and more relaxed feel. It’s just a 30-minute walk to the city center though, so it’s still super easy to explore the city if you base yourself here.
Best places to stay in Merivale:
- BUDGET: Ashford Motor Lodge – This no-frills motel is ideal for road-tripping travelers as it has free (off-street) parking. The rooms are simple but spacious and comfortable, with lots of natural light. The bathrooms, too, are spacious and well-lit and the showers have great water pressure. There’s also an outdoor pool and places to barbecue, as well as laundry facilities on-site. Since the rooms are apartment-style, each has a kitchen as well as a desk, coffee/tea maker, microwave, and TV.
- MIDRANGE: Pavilions Hotel – Along with large, clean, and modern rooms, this four-star hotel has two restaurants on-site, as well as a heated outdoor pool, hot tub, and small fitness center. It’s not a super fancy hotel, with more of a simple, contemporary design and ambience, but it’s comfortable, clean, and offers a lot of value. The rooms are large and well lit, and the beds are comfy. The bathrooms are roomy and clean, with good water pressure. There’s also free parking.
- LUXURY: The Mayfair – Just south of Merivale, near the edge of Hagley Park, this sleek and stylish five-star hotel has a posh feel. Everything is modern and contemporary. The rooms are bright and feature a bathroom with a walk-in shower, a flat-screen TV, a minibar, a coffee/tea maker, and excellent soundproofing. Breakfast, while not included, is delicious and includes lots of fresh, local food.
Where to Stay in Christchurch for Nightlife: Riccarton
West of Hagley Park is Riccarton, a relatively quiet suburb where lots of students live (thanks to its proximity to the University of Canterbury). While it’s pretty peaceful during the day, since there are lots of students here, you’ll find plenty of bars and pubs too, making it a good base if you’re a night owl looking to bar-hop. It’s just a 10-minute drive to get downtown too, so while it does feel a bit far from it all, you’re still just a stone’s throw away from everything.
Best places to stay in Riccarton:
- BUDGET: Metropolitan Motel – This utilitarian motel is one of the cheapest places to stay in this part of town. The apartment-style rooms are modern and well maintained, with comfy beds, kitchenettes, and flat-screen TVs. There’s a barbecue area outside, as well as free parking. The owner is super friendly and passionate about ensuring you have a hospitable stay.
- MIDRANGE: Chateau on the Park – Nestled against Hagley Park on the eastern edge of Riccarton, this four-star hotel is just a five-minute drive from downtown. It’s modern and features a simple but contemporary design, with bright rooms that have flat-screen TVs, desks, coffee/tea makers, and large bathrooms. The beds are comfy too. There’s a bar and a restaurant on-site, as well as a fitness center. There’s free parking as well.
- LUXURY: There’s no luxury accommodation in this part of town. The Mayfair (mentioned above) is the closest five-star hotel to this area.
Where to Stay in Christchurch for Outdoor Enthusiasts: Cashmere
Cashmere, a 10-minute drive south of City-Centre, is a tranquil suburb on the north side of the Port Hills, offering stunning views over the area as well as lots of green space. Generally, it’s a cheaper area to stay in, though hotel options are limited here, so you’ll want to make sure you book early. If you want to spend the majority of your time outdoors hiking and enjoying nature, this is the neighborhood for you.
Best places to stay in Cashmere:
- BUDGET: The But n Ben – With apartment-style rooms, this small property is the cheapest you’ll find in the Cashmere area. It has a private pool and mountain views, and the rooms are clean and stylish with a minimalist design and lots of natural light. They also have a kitchenette, TV, coffee/tea maker, couches, desks, and lots of space for relaxing (both indoors and out). It’s a good choice for couples or solo travelers looking for a quiet stay outside the city core.
- LUXURY: Dyers House – This charming B&B is located in a century-old Edwardian-style home. The house itself is massive and stunning, with large rooms that invite in lots of natural light. Some have beautiful views of the nearby hills, while others have patios or views of the relaxing garden. The owners are especially welcoming and helpful, going out of their way to make sure you have an exceptional stay. The breakfast is delicious, with lots of fresh fruit and pastries, and the dining room itself offers gorgeous views of the surrounding area.
Christchurch is a cool small city and a must-visit stop for anyone traveling around New Zealand. It’s come a long way after the earthquake and feels reborn.
And, while the city is not huge, where you decide to stay will impact your trip. By choosing one of the neighborhoods above, you’ll be able to enjoy the best accommodation Christchurch has to offer while making the most of your stay.
Book Your Trip to New Zealand: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned!
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
If you’re looking for more places to stay, here is a complete list of my favorite hostels in New Zealand.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Want More Information on New Zealand?
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