Please note that due to ongoing problems from the recent earthquake, almost all ships are now visiting Akaroa instead of Christchurch [the port of Lyttleton]. Akaroa is a small town on the Banks Peninsula from which we now offer a range of tours to visit destinations and activities close to Christchurch.
Please go to our dedicated page for Akaroa where you will see the range of options available. Akaroa is a tendered port so the time ashore may be limited.
There are a few of the smaller ships calling at Lyttleton [Christchurch] this season so if you need any tours or transport arranged please contact us directly.
Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and the country's third-largest urban area. It lies one third of the way down the South Island's east coast. The city was named by the Canterbury Association, which settled the surrounding province of Canterbury. The name of Christchurch was agreed on at the first meeting of the association on 27 March 1848. It was suggested by John Robert Godley, who had attended Christ Church, Oxford. Christchurch became a city by Royal Charter on 31 July 1856, making it officially the oldest established city in New Zealand.
The Avon river flows through the centre of the city was named Avon at the request of the pioneering Deans brothers to commemorate the Scottish Avon, which rises in the Ayrshire hills near what was their grandfathers farm and flows into the Clyde.
The usual Maori name for Christchurch is Otautahi (the place of Tautahi) and this was a site of seasonal dwelling of Ngai Tahu chief Te Potiki Tautahi, whose main home was Port Levy on Banks Peninsula.
On Saturday 4 September 2010, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Christchurch and the central Canterbury region at 4:35 am. Located near Darfield, west of the city at a depth of 10 kilometres (6.2 miles), it caused widespread damage to the city and minor injuries, but no direct fatalities. Nearly six months later on Tuesday 22 February 2011, a second earthquake measuring magnitude 6.3 struck the city at 12:51 pm. It was located closer to the city, near Lyttelton at a depth of 5 km.[ Although lower on the moment magnitude scale than the previous earthquake, the intensity and violence of the ground shaking was measured to be MM IX, among the strongest ever recorded globally in an urban area. ChristChurch Cathedral lost its spire and widespread damage was caused across Christchurch to buildings and infrastructure already weakened by 4 September 2010 earthquake and its aftershocks. Significant liquefaction affected the eastern suburbs, and the total cost to insurers of rebuilding has been estimated at NZ$20-30 billion.
On 13 June 2011 Christchurch was again rocked by two more large aftershocks. A 5.6 at only 9 km (6 miles) deep hit at 1.00 pm in the general location of Sumner, Christchurch. This was followed by another 6.3 at only 6 km (4 miles) deep at 2.20 pm again in the general location of Sumner, Christchurch. This resulted in more liquefaction and building damage. There were further earthquakes on 23 December 2011; the first, of magnitude 5.8 according to the US Geological Survey, 26 km (15 miles) north-east of the city at a depth of 4.7 km, at 13:58, followed by several aftershocks and another earthquake of magnitude 6.0 and similar location 80 minutes later, with more aftershocks expected. Further aftershocks of lower magnitudes have occured since that time.
Many of the most severly damaged buildings have now been demolished and a major rebuilding program is underway, the exclusion zone [red zone] is being opened up to public access
Is it still possible to visit Christchurch after the earthquake?
Yes, though there has been lots of damage with landmark buildings demolished. The rebuild has started so its a construction site in many places but most tours will show you whats going on. Access is limited and changes daily and roads can be rough, but it is interesting to see.
How long does it take to get into the city centre from the port
You need to allow about 90 minutes for the drive from Akaroa into the city. The road is picturesque but is steep and twisty in places so travel is slow.
I understand the Trans Alpine train trip is still operating, can i do this?
Due to the time to get from the port at Akaroa, there is not enough time for independent operators to offer this option. The cruise lines sometimes offer the trip but they commander the first ships tenders so their coaches can get away first.