It’s been a rough year for Christchurch, with earthquakes causing significant damage and a precipitous drop in the city’s tourism numbers. But as Caroline Blanchfield, Business Development Manager for Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism, told Travel Agent in a phone interview, the damage was limited, and there is still plenty to see and do in the city.
“Christchurch is doing well,” Blanchfield said several times during the conversation. In fact, she emphasized, 99 percent of the city’s attractions are open and operating, and they want visitors to come back. “We’re letting people know that it’s okay. The airport is fine—it’s brand new, in fact! We just did a huge redevelopment.” Most of the city’s biggest hotels were in the seven square blocks that were affected by the earthquakes, Blanchfield acknowledged, but there are still plenty of accommodation options throughout the city, with approximately 7,000 beds available. “There are 107 motels and motor lodges and 15 backpacking accommodations,” she noted. The “jewel in the crown” of Christchurch’s accommodation scene, Blanchfield said, are the 71 bed and breakfasts throughout the city. “They’re really darling, unique experiences.” While the city works on those seven square blocks, Blanchfield suggests visitors use Christchurch as a gateway to the rest of New Zealand’s South Island. “They can stay a night and then head out on a self-drive tour,” she said. There are plenty of upcoming events in and around Christchurch: Tickets have just gone on sale for August’s Arts Festival; the Real New Zealand festival will take place all over the country; and January will see the Festival of Flowers and a Golf Open, as well as the World Buskers Festival. Also good to know: A temporary visitor center has been set up in the foyer of the Chateau on the Park hotel by Hagley Park.