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One of the easiest ways to travel around the South Island is by car. To really take in the beautiful sights, you want to have the freedom to travel at your own pace – something that is not possible in a train or bus!
The good news is that hiring a car in the South Island is easy, especially with DriveNow where you can compare deals on car hire in Christchurch from New Zealand's most trusted providers, saving time, effort, and money. We’ve been helping locals and visitors alike with Christchurch car hire since 2003, offering a chance to easily sort and compare vehicles with a just a few clicks or taps on your favourite device. Best of all, DriveNow’s booking service is completely free and in many instances no credit card details are required when booking. Take advantage of our lowest price guarantee for the cheapest car rentals in Christchurch.
Our long-term partnerships with the biggest names in car hire such as Budget, Thrifty, Avis, Hertz, Firefly and Europcar along with Go Rentals and InterRent ensures you’ll have a chance to browse a wide range of great makes and models of different sizes from more than 8 rental providers based in Christchurch. Just choose which characteristics are most important to you and compare and contrast vehicles that fit the bill. Speaking of the bill, you can enjoy the benefits of DriveNow’s Christchurch Airport car hire without worrying about a load of nasty hidden fees surprising you later.
DriveNow’s car hire in Christchurch and car rental from Christchurch Airport unlocks many of the fantastic opportunities for fun and adventure in the South Island’s largest city. Whether you want to spend your time exploring the North Island, South Island, or both, let our fantastic range of vehicles take you there.
Whether you want to stay right in the city centre or take advantage of your Christchurch car rental and stay a short drive out of town, there’s plenty of great options to lay your head during your trip. One thing to keep an eye on: The Christchurch Casino. This hotspot is slated for a massive renovation, including a 200-room hotel that could change the game when it comes to Christchurch accommodation.
For those who want to be treated to the pampered life during their New Zealand vacation, The George Christchurch presents an elegant option overlooking North Hagley Park and the River Avon. The location puts you just minutes from all the great attractions in the city centre. With a one-to-one staff to guest ratio, you rest easy knowing there will be no shortage of attention paid to you and your fellow travellers. And if you get hungry, the award-winning 50 Bistro and Pescatore restaurants are on the premises so you’re always only a few steps away from a delicious feed.
An amazing mixture of contemporary class and iconic Christchurch heritage, the aptly named Heritage Christchurch stands out amongst the accommodation crowd with its stony Italian High Renaissance Palazzo façade and fabled history. Winner of the 2016 World Luxury Hotel award in the Australasia and Oceania region, the Heritage puts you right in the middle of the city CBD while at the same time transporting you to a time gone by. Throw in a lap pool, jacuzzi, and sauna, and you’ve got everything you need for a wonderful stay.
The home of the University of Canterbury, Riccarton’s younger, livelier vibe can be a great place to set up shop during your stay in Christchurch. Outside the radius of the earthquakes and aftershocks, Riccarton has carried the torch when it comes to retail and nightlife spots. While you won’t find the hotels that tick your boutique or luxury boxes, you will find ample accommodation in a happening part of town that will satisfy your social senses throughout your stay.
So this one might not be for everybody, but it certainly is great for those travelling on a budget. Much like those green and purple vans you see around Australia and New Zealand, this spot is great for those who are looking for ample accommodation with few thrills. The Jucy Snooze Christchurch offers budget rate private rooms as well as revolutionary sleeping pods that have eight beds and will remind you of an upscale hostel. Perhaps the best part of Jucy Snooze is the shared area, which features funky, comfortable furniture and a chance to make some new pals during your travels. Grab your car hire at Christchurch Airport and travel less than a kilometre to make it to your accommodation before hitting the road for your next big adventure.
With a multitude of outstanding options within walking distance, you won’t have to rely on car hire in Christchurch to make your way to eating and drinking heaven. Check out some of these local icons while in town to make your taste buds (and your belly) happy.
If meals on wheels (or tracks) are up your alley, the Christchurch Tramway Restaurant is not to be missed. This unique dining experience gives you a chance to cruise around town as you’re waited on by courteous, attentive staff. The luxurious, white tablecloth meal, not to mention the views of the city, give you a taste of what the city is all about. Leave the Christchurch car hire at home and hop on. All aboard!
Looking to get away from the standard bar and grill scene? The Volstead Trading Company in Riccarton is a hip spot that offers a bit of everything to wet your whistle. Let the vibes of a 1920s speakeasy wash over you as you sample the incredible rotating list of craft beers from around the world. And there are great tunes in the background, to boot. If you’re up for a walk, you can cut across Hagley Park from the city centre. But we suggest making the easy 10ish minute drive in your Christchurch rental car.
Hello Sunday is a step above many of the other cafés in Christchurch
You can say hello to Hello Sunday any day of the week, and we heartily suggest you do so during your trip to Christchurch. This café has become a favourite of the local crowd, and one visit to sample its scrumptious menu will show you why. Tasty twists on classic dishes such as the beef cheek hash, matcha buckwheat waffles, and Turkish eggs combine with a burger and salads to provide enough variety for your travelling party. Add a zesty bloody mary or mimosa to really get the party started. Located in Sydenham south of the city centre, this brekkie and brunch spot is trendy without being pretentious, putting forth a welcoming atmosphere for those looking to sit down for a full meal or just grab a nice up of joe.
If you travel to NZ but still want to taste some southern-style US BBQ, check out Boo Radley’s in the city centre near the crux of Victoria Street and Montreal Street. Combining North American BBQ with incredible local produce, you’ll get your fill of meat along with local twists on classic American sides. To wash it all down, choose from a fantastic range of craft beers or sample a dram from one of the country’s largest collections of bourbon. And, no, you don’t have to worry about any mockingbirds being harmed.
Everywhere you look you’ll find representation of the spirit of Christchurch. Make some time on your trip to check out some of these great attractions, which have a little bit of everything to please even the most varied travelling parties.
A sterling example of the fortitude and determination of the city of Christchurch, the Re:START Container Mall on Cashel Street between Colombo Street and Oxford Terrace started as a Band-Aid solution after the horrific natural disasters that shook the city to its core in 2011. Located in the city centre, retailers established presences out of shipping containers after much of the area was damaged during the earthquakes and their aftershocks. The number of retailers has grown to more than 50, developing into a beloved shopping district and symbol of the town’s spirit.
While you’re there, be sure to check out Quake City, a small but moving museum that helps tell the tale of the Canterbury earthquakes through videos, photographs, and even debris from the fabled cathedral.
Fewer countries have as close a connection to sport as New Zealand does to rugby. Much like football in the UK, New Zealand’s obsession with rugby union is something that consumes the entire country, especially when the world-famous All Blacks team is battling international foes. But the domestic competitions bring out the fans by the thousand as well.
The Crusaders have dominated the Super Rugby competition for more than 20 years
Christchurch is the home of the mighty Crusaders, perhaps the most storied franchise in the Super Rugby competition that includes teams from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Japan, and Argentina. The team won the competition seven times in its first 21 years of existence on the back of rugby legends such as Dan Carter and Richie McCaw. Try to catch the team in action at their home ground, AMI Stadium. Just remember to track down some red and black gear if you really want to fit in.
Alternatively, you can catch the next wave of stars playing for Canterbury in the Mitre 10 Cup competition, or head down to local grounds to see battlers put in the hard yards for little more than their love of the game.
See for yourself if Christchurch lives up to its nickname of “the Garden City” by checking out the plethora of strolling paths that can have you enveloped by greenery. You can check out the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and their massive collection of both domestic and native plants, as well as the paddling pool and playground in which the kiddos can burn off some of their excess energy.
If you want to get off the beaten path, you can take a leisurely punt on the River Avon. You’ll be able to just kick back, relax, and drink in the beauty surrounding you as a punter guides your glide down the river. All it takes is a quick 5-10 minute walk from Cathedral Square – or even less time by Christchurch car hire – and a ticket purchase for you to be out on the water.
A guided bike tour can also give you a great view of why the town has earned its moniker.
Maori culture is one of the most important foundational blocks of New Zealand society, and Ko Tāne gives you a chance to get an up-close look at it during your trip to Christchurch. This interactive experience features Haka performances, delicious hangi pies, and all sorts of enthralling learning experiences that can help you understand what Maori culture is all about. Just about 20 minutes’ drive northwest from the city centre in the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in a Christchurch rental car, Ko Tāne serves up a strong mixture of education, taste, and fun that will appeal to travellers of all ages.
If you’re spending a few days in Christchurch, make sure you take advantage of car hire in Christchurch and discover what the rest of the South Island has to offer. New Zealand is known for far more than just its cities, so to get a true taste of what all the fuss is about you need to venture out of town for at least a day. Luckily Christchurch is situated right next to some stunning landmarks and ideal road trip destinations, and it won’t take you long before you’re out enjoying the wilderness. You might even want to rent a campervan to extend the trip even longer!
Just 3.5 hours’ drive from Christchurch, a visit to the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is not to be missed. The park is home to Mount Aoraki, the tallest mountain in Australasia, as well as 23 other peaks, all of which are more than 3,000 metres high. The scenery here is truly outstanding, a far cry from the cityscapes you’ll have just come from, so it’s a good time to get your camera out. The dazzling peaks in the national park offer what is widely considered some of the best mountaineering in Australasia, but if you aren’t feeling quite so adventurous there are many other ways to enjoy the area. There are walks and hikes of varying length and difficulty beginning near Mt Cook Village, which can take from a few hours to a few days.
The park also boasts an impressive number of glaciers; 60 to be exact! This includes the 27km long Tasman Glacier, which is the longest in New Zealand. If you’d like to experience this glacier up close, try taking a boat trip through the terminal lake, past icebergs and ice crystals. This trip is available from September to May and takes around 2.5 hours. For a truly unforgettable experience, book a helicopter or plane to view the Tasman Glacier from the best possible angle. It can even drop you on the snow if you fancy a ski.
Experience true natural beauty in the Mt Cook National Park
It wouldn’t be a trip to New Zealand without a visit to one of the country’s world renowned vineyards. The Waipara Valley region in Canterbury has been voted one of the best in the South Pacific and is particularly famous for its excellent Pinot Noir and Riesling varieties. The Waipara Valley offers 31 different wineries with a choice of 4 winery restaurants, so you’ll be sure to find at least a few that are to your liking! If you happen to take your trip on a summer’s Saturday morning, you can enjoy the Waipara Valley Farmers Market and discover different produce from all across the region. The Valley is easily accessible with your hire car from Christchurch, at just 40 minutes’ drive away from the CBD. However, if you plan on taking full advantage of the delights of the vineyards, it could be advisable to book some accommodation before you make the return trip!
For another dazzling display of New Zealand’s scenery, take your hire car on a trip from Christchurch to Arthur’s Pass. This long stretch of road is considered by many as one of the most scenic drives in the country, taking you on a journey up 900m high through the mountains, rainforests, and valleys. The pass bridges the gap between the east and west coasts of New Zealand, a route first used by Maori tribes on their quest to find Pounamu (jade.) The drive itself is windy and fairly challenging, so schedule in plenty of pit stops and be sure to check the status of the road in case of snow. Once you reach Arthur’s Pass itself, around 2 hours from Christchurch, there is a host of outdoor activities to enjoy, including hiking, climbing, and skiing.
With all the planning, organisation, and activities that you’ve already done on your New Zealand adventure, you definitely deserve a bit of relaxation! Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa is the ideal spot to do just that. About 90 minutes’ drive from Christchurch, you’ll find this award-winning haven with enough pools, jacuzzis, and spa treatments to keep you there all day long. There are even fun water activities for kids, too. The thermal water in the pools is drawn from a bore right next to the spa and is full of natural minerals to help the body rejuvenate and repair.
For those looking to travel further afield this Christchurch self-drive itinerary explores the very best of New Zealand's South island over 10 days.