Where to stay in Christchurch: Best areas & neighborhoods

In this blog post, I will help you to decide where to stay in Christchurch for the first time, for families, and couples, as well as the safest places to stay in Christchurch.

Christchurch is the second largest city in New Zealand, located on the banks of the Avon River, on the east coast of South island, in the Canterbury region.

Known as Garden City, Christchurch is home to beautiful parks, tree-lined streets, and gardens. Settled by English immigrants in the 1850s, Christchurch has very British characteristics. 

Not only the largest city in the South island, Christchurch is also an important seaside city, offering easy access to ski resorts, Antarctica, Banks Peninsula, and Chatham Islands.

Despite being greatly impacted by the earthquakes that occurred from 2010 to 2012, Christchurch has bounced back and transformed into a fresh, vibrant city.

Where to stay in Christchurch, NZ?

The best areas to stay in Christchurch for first-timers are Christchurch City Center, Merivale, Riccarton, and Christchurch airport because they are the most convenient neighborhoods to explore the city. If you are returning visitors, you can consider staying in Sumner and Cashmere.

Christchurch city center (CBD) is the best overall area to stay in Christchurch for first time visitors, families, couples, and solo travelers due to its central location. It has a high concentration of hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops. If you stay here, you will be located in the middle of action.

💖 Best Area for first-timers:Christchurch city center (CBD)
💎 Best luxury hotel:Sudima Christchurch City
🏨 Best mid-range hotel:Carnmore Hotel Christchurch
💰 Best budget hotel:The Grange B&B

Map of areas and neighborhoods in Christchurch:

6 Best areas to stay in Christchurch for tourists are:

1. Christchurch city center (CBD)

Christchurch city center, also called Inner City, or CBD, is the best place to stay in Christchurch for the first time due to its prime location. If you stay here, you will be located within walking distance to many tourist attractions, as well as world-class restaurants, trendy bars and nightclubs, and stylish shops.

The city center is surrounded by four main venues of Moorehouse, Fitzgerald, Bealey, and Deans. It was badly damaged during the earthquakes from 2010 to 2012, but it has been revitalized. Many buildings have been rebuilt in an eye-catching style.

The Inner city is located within walking distance from the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, part of Hagley Park. The Christchurch Botanic Gardens is one of the free things to do in the city center.

The Christchurch Botanic Gardens is the green heart of the Garden City, founded in 1863. It consists of many gardens, a Heritage Rose Garden, walking paths, fountains, and the Avon River winding through it.

One of the relaxing ways to explore the garden is taking the 30 minute punting tour with Antigua Boat Sheds. The boat starts from 2 Cambridge Terrace, or Worcester Bridge, passing Te Pae Christchurch, Margaret Mahy Playground, Victoria Square, and Christchurch Town Hall. 

The Christchurch CBD is also home to numerous historical and cultural attractions. The Canterbury Museum is located right next to the Botanic Gardens in Christchurch. It has a large collection of artifacts of Maori culture and Antarctic exploration.

Within walking distance from the Canterbury Museum, you can find The Arts Centre, CoCA – Centre of Contemporary Art Toi Moroki, and Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, a must see for art lovers.

If you are interested in the stories of Canterbury earthquakes, you can visit the Quake City where you can learn through photography, artifacts such as the ruins of ChristChurch Cathedral.

In the middle of the city stands the Cathedral Square, which was also damaged in the earthquake in 2011 with some structures having been restored. 

You can view some statues and art installations, as well as enjoy shopping, food, and drinks at one of the food kiosks, food trucks, restaurants, and cafes nearby. The street food market is worth a visit.

Christchurch city center is compact and is easily explored on foot, buses, and vintage trams. It is one of the best areas to stay in Christchurch without a car. 

Christchurch city center has the highest range of accommodations for all budget travelers. You can find luxury five star hotels and the budget guest houses, B&Bs, and apartments.

Best places to stay in Christchurch city center (CBD) for first-timers:

2. Merivale, great area for local vibe

Merivale is a popular place to stay in Christchurch due to its close proximity to the city center. It is home to lots of dining options, especially along the Papanui Road.

Papanui Road stretches from Bealey Avenue to Merivale Mall and is packed with B&B and motels. It is known as the mile of the motels.

Merivale is also conveniently located close to Hagley Park and offers plenty of things to do and see. The neighborhood is also home to beautiful narrow streets, where you can find boutiques, local restaurants, and bars.

Merivale offers more laid-back nightlife compared with the city center. Some of the best places for late dining are the No.4 Bar and Restaurant.

Merivale has a wide range of motels and mid-range accommodations. It is an ideal place to stay for the local vibe, and laid-back nightlife.

Best places to stay in Christchurch in Merivale:

3. Riccarton, where to stay in Christchurch for shopping and nightlife

Riccarton is a suburb located in the western side of Hagley Park. Riccarton is the important retail and entertainment center of the city with a huge shopping mall, cheap Asian restaurants, and motels.

Riccarton is home to one of the busiest roads in Christchurch, Riccarton Road, where you can find Westfield Mall, formerly Riccarton Mall. Westfield is a big shopping complex, home to the popular brands such as Kmart, JB HI-FI, Farmers, and Hoyts Cinemas.

You can also find the Riccarton House and Bush, also known as Deans Bush,  the Canterbury Plains’s only surviving swamp forest. The Christchurch Farmers’ Market is held here every Saturday morning.

In the Ilam area, between Riccarton and Fendalton, stands the Canterbury University, making it a young, vibrant student neighborhood.

After the earthquake in 2011, many businesses in the downtown area relocated in Riccarton, making it a shopping and nightlife hub of the city.

Best places to stay in Christchurch in Riccarton:

4. Sumner, a popular beach-side suburb of Christchurch

Sumner is a beautiful coastal town, located on the eastern end of Port Hills, within easy reach by the Metro Bus Purple line. It is one of the oldest European settlements in Christchurch, and was affected by the earthquake in 2011.

Sumner is a popular place for families looking for  a tranquil escape. It is also popular for its  outdoor activities such as walking, swimming, surfing, and biking. 

You can find Ferrymead Heritage Park, which is home to early 20th century township and numerous restored cottages and churches.

Within easy access from Sumner, you can find the Christchurch Gondola, taking you from Heathcote Valley to the top of Mt Cavendish. It offers panoramic views of Lyttelton, its harbor, as far as the Southern Alps and Kaikoura Ranges.

With beautiful beaches of Scarborough Beach and Sumner Beach, you can swim and surf. You can take a stroll along its seafront promenade, starting from Cave Rock, head to Scarborough Park, which is located under the cliffs. 

Sumner doesn’t have lots of accommodation options, but you can find mid-range motels and budget hostels in the area.

Best places to stay in Christchurch in Sumner:

5. Cashmere, countryside area of Christchurch

Cashmere is a hilly suburb located 5 km from Christchurch downtown, and is north of Port Hills. It is a local residence area where you can find attractions such as the Old Stone House, the Sign of the Kiwi, Ngaio Marsh House, and the Sign of the Takahe. 

It is a great place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the CBD. It is also home to numerous laid-back cafés and retail shops.

Best places to stay in Christchurch in Cashmere:

6. Christchurch Airport

Staying near Christchurch International Airport is ideal if you have to catch an early flight or you have a late arrival. It has international connections to Australia, Singapore, Fiji, and China, as well as many domestic flights.

The airport itself and the surroundings offers plenty of great accommodations, ranging from mid0range to budget hotels.

Best places to stay in Christchurch CBD:

What are the best areas to stay in Christchurch?

The best areas to stay in Christchurch are the Christchurch city center, Riccarton, Merivale, Sumner, and Christchurch airport due to its wide range of tourist attractions and amenities.

Where should I stay in Christchurch for the first time?

Christchurch city center (CBD) is generally the best area to stay in Christchurch for first-timers due to its prime location. If you book a hotel here, you will be located in the middle of the action, with many restaurants, bars, and shops located within walking distance from your hotels.

What are the areas to avoid in Christchurch?

Christchurch is a quite safe city for tourists. But as in any bi city, you should always practice common sense and be aware of your surroundings. You should also avoid Linwood, Philipstown, Aranui, Shirley, and Wainoni.

What are the safest areas to stay in Christchurch?

Tourists looking for the safest place to stay in Christchurch, I recommend staying in the central location such as Christchurch CBD because the area is always populated with people, and it offers plenty of things to do and see.

See more: Where to stay in Auckland First Time

Overall, I recommend Christchurch CBD as the best area to stay in Christchurch for the first time because it is the most convenient location for tourists for sightseeing, shopping, and nightlife. Hopefully, after reading this, you will find the best area where stay in Christchurch, New Zealand.

About Author: Linda Smith

I'm Linda Smith, the Hotel Expert, an experienced travel blogger who passionate about traveling. I'm here to share with you all my travel experiences and tips. I cover a wide range of travel topics, specializing in sharing information about the best areas, neighborhoods, and hotels in each city. I hope all these things will make your travel easier.

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