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Dorset House Backpackers is located about a 15-17 minute walk from the city centre. Just take a right when you get out of the hostel and then follow a left on Park Terrace. Once you reach the Canterbury Museum and Botanic Gardens (10 minutes walk) you can start your journey through to town through the Arts Centre precinct on Worcester Boulevard.
If you don't fancy walking or think you might have lots of shopping bags with you, you can catch the Blueline Bus at a reasonable price outside the Knox Church on Victoria Street (2 minute walk from the hostel), the Blueline will drop you at the Bus Interchange where sites are in short walking distance.
We are often asked whether there is actually anything still left to do in Christchurch- there seems to be the assumption that Christchurch is lifeless and boring after the earthquakes however this is far from the truth! Christchurch is currently what's called a 'transitional city'. There's a lot of change happening. That's allowing innovation to flourish. Lonely Planet has released a new post-quake chapter on Christchurch, which is online free of charge. Heaps of great information on what's on and open in the city, and which areas are charging forward with new bars, restaurants and shops. Even if you’re just here for one day, there is plenty to see in just a short stroll to the city centre. Please feel free to take one of the pocket maps at reception- they are free. Here is a list of things to see near us:
Canterbury Museum: Explore Canterbury’s rich cultural and natural history. See what life was like for the early indigenous people of New Zealand right through to the earliest of colonial settlers several hundred years later. Canterbury museum has something for everyone to enjoy- an insightful exhibition on the experience of the brave emergency response teams during the devastating Christchurch earthquake, ancient Asian art and its beautiful heirlooms, geographic history of our Canterbury region, a real Egyptian Mummy and so much more…!
• Open 9:00am-5:00pm daily. Free Entry (donations welcome)
Botanic Gardens: Ever wonder why Christchurch is often referred to as the Garden City? Founded in 1863- A great place to visit and explore. The gardens are surrounded by rivers and large ancient trees that litter the grounds. Beautiful rose gardens and tropical houses with a variety of plants. Definitely the best spot in the city for a garden picnic in the warmer months.
• Open from 7:00am daily. Free entry
Christchurch Art Gallery (Te Puna o Waiwhetu): Canterbury has a wealth of artistic talent proudly on show in galleries and artisan workshops throughout the region. Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu in the heart of Christchurch is home to one of New Zealand's most important public art collections. Offering free daily guided tours with knowledgeable guides and an extensive exhibition calendar, it is certainly worth the visit when in Christchurch.
• Open 10:00am- 5:00pm daily- late night Wednesday 10:00am-9:00pm. Free entry
Christchurch Art Centre: Iconic neo-Gothic campus in Christchurch, New Zealand. Arts, culture, education and creative industries. Now undergoing a $290m, seven-year post earthquake restoration. After closing up after the Feb 2011 earthquake, 2016 has seen almost half of the Art Centre reopening. Currently you can go and visit the Great Hall which displays the stunning stained-glass window which was rededicated to the memory of all staff and students who served in World War One and who previously attended an institution once based on the site now known as the Arts Centre. Rutherford’s Den is also open to view, Ernest Rutherford carried out much of his own research into the high frequency magnetisation of iron in a basement den in the Clock Tower Building- Rutherford’s life works lead to discovering how to split the atom which of course was ground-breaking in the formation of the atomic bomb, his research won him a Nobel Prize in 1908. Stay tuned… 2016 expects the James Logie Classics collection to be moved back into the Arts Centre precinct – the collection contains vases, mosaics and many other beautifully restored pieces from ancient Greece and Rome.
Punting on the Avon: Summer or winter, glide along the tranquil Avon River in Christchurch, as a skilled punter in traditional Edwardian attire propels you slowly along the water. Our Avon River Punting tours are set aboard handcrafted flat-bottomed boats, poled along by your punter from the platformed till at the rear end of the boat. An ideal group or family activity, Punting on the Avon is an eco-friendly way to relax and enjoy Christchurch from a different perspective. Antigua Boat Sheds also offer kayak hire in case you want to do the hard work yourself and bike hire at varied prices.
• Open 10:00am- 4:00pm (winter), 9:00am-6:00pm (summer)
Cathedral Square: Previously the busy centre of Christchurch and the home of the iconic Anglican Cathedral which was severely damaged in the earthquake. An interesting landmark to visit to get a grasp at just how powerful and devastating the earthquakes were on our historic buildings. To liven up the space the city holds international food markets every Friday night with talented buskers and delicious treats.
New Regent Street: Originally opened in 1932, New Regent Street in central Christchurch is home to an exciting range of boutique businesses in a stunning heritage setting. The ideal place to relax and indulge yourself. Over a three year period the area was transformed into a terraced street of Spanish Mission style speciality shops. Opened by the Mayor of Christchurch on 1st April 1932, New Regent Street was a beautiful ray of colour and hope in the midst of the depression. Described then as New Zealand’s most beautiful street, it has brought pleasure to shoppers and tourists ever since.
Re:Start Mall: This labyrinth of shipping containers was the first retail 'mall' to reopen in the CBD postquakes. With cafes, food trucks, souvenir shops and people-watching opportunities, it remains a pleasant place to hang out, particularly on a sunny day. Voted a must-do by Lonely Planet.
• Open 10:00am-5:00pm daily
Cardboard Cathedral: The Cathedral makes use of varied construction materials from cardboard tubes to timber beams, structural steel and concrete. It is the largest 'emergency structure' to be designed by Shigeru Ban who, with the support of associate architect Yoshie Narimatsu, contributed his time free of charge and gifted the building's design to the Cathedral, Diocese and Christchurch. The Cardboard Cathedral's triangular window design includes 49, 1.2 metre tall panels and incorporates images from ChristChurch Cathedral's original rose window.
• Open 9:00am- 5:00pm daily
Earthquake Memorial (185 empty chairs): Reflection of Loss of Lives, Livelihoods and Living in Neighbourhood is an installation by Peter Majendie, standing on a vacant lot in the heart of Christchurch. Where a church once proudly stood, the 185 white chairs each represent one of the 185 lives lost in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. Each chair, just like its owner, has its own distinct personality, with the installation including armchairs, dining room chairs, a wheel chair, and even a baby capsule. The 185 square metres of grass that the chairs sit on represents new growth and regeneration – something which you can see and feel across the whole city. The artist’s statement poetically reminds us all that the ‘installation is temporary – as is life’.
Alice Cinamatheque: Positioned in the Old High Street Post Office, Alice offers an exclusive 38 seat Arthouse cinema designed with Egyptian flair. Comfort is paramount. Sink back into luxurious seating and enjoy a choice of snacks and drinks from Alice's Nibble Nook or C1 Espresso's fully-licensed Cafe. Take a trip back in time and experience the excitement and opulence of the golden era of film - today's technology with yesterday's ambience. A good mix of both Mainstream and Independent Films.
• Open 10:00am – 10:00pm daily
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