Walking Tour of Christchurch, New Zealand
Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand, is the major hub of the central part of South Island and a destination in itself because of its lovely and well-manicured gardens, and its harkening back to jolly old England. The center of this thoroughly walkable city is Cathedral Square dominated by the Christ Church Cathedral. The fit can climb the 133 steps up to the viewing platform for a wonderful view of the city.
Winding through the city is the Avon River, and, reminiscent of Oxford or Cambridge, visitors are encouraged to punt or be punted along the river. On the west side, within Hagley Park, are the Botanic Gardens which offer quiet and picturesque strolls.
This walk begins on Cathedral Square, the nerve center of the city. Street performers abound here, although many other activities take place as well. Visit the Christchurch Cathedral, the most recognizable landmark in the city. Climb the tower for fantastic views. Also on the square is Four Ships Court, a building whose walls commemorate the founding of the city in 1850.
Exit the square by walking west on Worcester Boulevard. Ahead, on your right, are the Old Municipal Chambers, a red-brick edifice which contains the Visitor Centre. Opposite the chambers is the Statue of Captain Robert Falcon Scott, an Antarctic explorer.
Turn left (south) on Oxford Terrace to get to Cashel Street. Before crossing the river, you can take a slight detour to St Michael’s & All Saints Anglican Church by continuing south to Litchfield Street. The church was built in 1872, and its bell tower contains the bell from one of the “first four ships” that brought settlers here from England. After your visit, retrace your steps to the Bridge of Remembrance, on which you should cross the Avon River. This bridge is a memorial to New Zealanders who perished in World War I.
Now, turn right on Cambridge Terrace and then left on Worcester Boulevard. The Canterbury Club, a gentlemen’s establishment which dates to the early days of the city is at the corner. Continue west to reach the Arts Centre, a collection of numerous shops in a lovely Gothic-style building, which offers, especially, authentic New Zealand arts and crafts.
Further west is Hagley Park, which boasts a number of significant attractions. The Botanic Gardens, a delightful place to explore, with many seasonal and permanent displays, is straight ahead. The Peacock Fountain, just inside the entrance, is particularly enchanting. Nearby is the Canterbury Museum, with exhibits on the Maori culture, Antarctica, and other subjects. Just north of the museum is Christ’s College, an old school which features an interesting ensemble of buildings around the quadrangle.
After exploring the park, exit onto Rolleston Avenue and turn left. If you are still full of energy and want to extend the basic walking tour, continue north onto Park Terrace, and then turn left on Harper Avenue, which passes through North Hagley Park. As you exit the park, head west on Fendleton Road to visit Mona Vale, an attractive Victorian home with beautiful gardens. When you are through, retrace your steps back to Armagh Street.
Otherwise, continue north on Rolleston Avenue, and then turn right on Armagh Street to Cranmore Square. Walk north, partly across the square, to Chestnut Street, and turn right. The Durham Street Methodist Church is ahead, on your right. Turn right onto Durham Street to reach the Provincial Council Buildings.
Now, turn left on Armagh Street, and then follow the river to the left to reach Christchurch’s Town Hall, an interesting, modern structure, with an impressive fountain. Cross the bridge which you crossed on the way to Town Hall, to find yourself on Victoria Square. This plaza sports Statues of Queen Victoria and Captain Cook, the first European to set foot in New Zealand.
Exit the square by walking east on Oxford Terrace to the Oxford Terrace Baptist Church. Now, turn right onto Madras Street, through Latimer Square, to Hereford Street. St John’s Church sits at the intersection. Turn right on Hereford, and then right again on Colombo Street, to return to Cathedral Square.