Where to stay in Christchurch for first time: 4 Safe areas

Finding where to stay in Christchurch as a first-timer can be a headache. That’s why, in today’s article, I will help you to find safe places to stay in Christchurch for first-time visitors.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safe areas to stay in Christchurch for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and things to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Christchurch and recommend some of the best hotels for various budgets.

Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island and the third-largest in New Zealand overall. Known for its English heritage, Christchurch is often referred to as the Garden City due to its many parks and green spaces.

In 2011, Christchurch was struck by a devastating earthquake that caused significant damage to the city and claimed many lives. Since then, the city has been undergoing a process of rebuilding and regeneration, with innovative architectural projects and community initiatives aiming to revitalize the city.

Christchurch is also a hub for outdoor activities, with opportunities for hiking, skiing, and exploring the surrounding natural beauty of the Canterbury region. The city has a thriving arts scene, museums, galleries, and a diverse culinary landscape.

Is Christchurch safe to visit?

Yes, Christchurch is overall a safe place to visit. The city has relatively low violent crime, but property crime like theft from vehicles is common. So, I recommend that you avoid leaving any valuables visible in your parked car and use normal safety precautions to ensure an enjoyable trip.

New Zealand is known for its stunning natural beauty, so if you’re exploring outdoor areas around Christchurch, make sure to follow safety guidelines for hiking, swimming, or any other outdoor activities.

Additionally natural disasters such as earthquakes and bushfires can happen, so it is advised to monitor news for updates and follow the advice of local authorities.

Where to stay in Christchurch for the first time?

The best and safe areas to stay in Christchurch for first-timers and tourists include Christchurch City Centre, Riccarton, Merivale, and St Albans. Always exercise the usual precautions you would in any urban area to ensure your safety.

In general, Christchurch City Centre is often the top choice for tourists due to its central location and proximity to major attractions like the Botanic Gardens, Cathedral Square, and Canterbury Museum.

This area also has a high concentration of accommodations, restaurants, cafes, and shops.

Riccarton, Merivale, and St Albans are great locations for travelers looking for a more local atmosphere, budget-friendly accommodations, while still having easy access to the city center. Most here in these areas have free parking, making them convenient bases for visitors with a car.

Riccarton, just west of the CBD, is a great choice for those who enjoy shopping and dining. This area is home to Westfield Riccarton Mall, the Riccarton Bush as well as offers convenient access to Hagley Park and the University of Canterbury.

Merivale is an upscale suburb north of the CBD and is known for its boutique shopping, fine dining restaurants, and trendy cafes. Merivale is also close to Hagley Park and a short drive from the city center.

If you prefer a coastal vibe, Sumner is a great option. Situated east of Christchurch, it offers beautiful beaches, cafes, and scenic walks along the coast.

During my trip to Christchurch, I stayed in the city center at the Carnmore Hotel. It has a great location, close to everything, a short walk from various iconic landmarks. My room was nice, comfy, and clean with a spacious bed.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Christchurch for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Christchurch first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Christchurch first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Christchurch, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Christchurch have been carefully selected by me from well-known and secure booking sites such as booking.com, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. 

If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

4 Best/ Safe areas to stay in Christchurch for first-timers and tourists:

1. Christchurch City Centre

Christchurch City Centre is a fantastic choice for first-time visitors and tourists. Staying here ensures you’re at the heart of the action, with easy access to everything the city has to offer.

The city center puts you within walking distance from many of Christchurch’s main attractions, museums, art galleries, including Cathedral Square, Hagley Park, Christchurch Botanic Gardens, Canterbury Museum, the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, and the Avon River.

You’ll find an abundance of shopping and dining options. From boutique stores and local markets to international retailers and gourmet restaurants, there’s something for everyone’s taste and budget.

The city center is well-connected with public transportation. You can easily hop on a tram for a tour around the city or catch a bus to nearby attractions.

There’s a wide range of accommodation options in the city center, catering to different preferences and budgets. Whether you’re looking for luxury hotels, budget-friendly hostels, you’ll find plenty of choices.

Best places to stay in Christchurch City Centre for first-timers:

Luxury ($$$): The Observatory Hotel Christchurch, great 5-star hotel in central Christchurch, within walking distance from the Hagley Park, Botanic Gardens, Canterbury Museum and Christchurch Art Gallery. It has a fitness center, parking, 24-hour front desk, and bike/car rental services.

Luxury ($$$): Sudima Christchurch City, 5-star hotel in the city center of Christchurch, in a quiet and peaceful area, on Salisbury Street. Only a short walk from Hagley Park and a variety of museums, cafes, restaurants and bars. It features family rooms, a fitness center, a spa/wellness center, and very good breakfast.

Luxury ($$$): The Mayfair, 5-star hotel on Victoria Street, easy walk to the square, and restaurants. Easy distance to the CBD, Riverside Market, and botanic garden. Good base to explore the city without a car.

Mid-range ($$): Wyndham Garden Christchurch Kilmore Street, 4-star apartment hotel in central Christchurch, within easy walking distance of all the sights. Easily accessible from the airport by. The on/off tourist tram stop is also nearby. You can choose to stay in a room that has a kitchen with a dishwasher if you like to make your own meal. They also have good laundry facilities.

Mid-range ($$): Rydges Latimer Christchurch, 4-star hotel located on Latimer Square, short distance from to Riverside, and town center for restaurants, bars, tourist activities and shopping. The hotel has a great Bloody Mary’s restaurant and  decent size guest rooms.

Mid-range ($$): Christchurch City Hotel, 4-star hotel in the heart of the city center, only a few minutes from the Cathedral Square. Easy access to public transport to get from/to the airport.

Budget ($): Haka House Christchurch, backpacker hostel in central Christchurch, very close to the Arts Centre, the Botanic Gardens, Riverside Market and The Terrace. This accommodation has 2 communal kitchens, BBQ facilities, laundry services, dorm rooms and private rooms.


2. Riccarton

Riccarton is a great base in Christchurch for its vibrant atmosphere and easy access to the city center. This area is known for its diverse range of amenities, including shopping centers, parks, University of Canterbury, and recreational facilities. 

Riccarton Road, a major thoroughfare, runs through the suburb and is lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes, making it a bustling area for both locals and visitors. Riccarton Bush, a protected natural area with native plants and wildlife, provides a peaceful escape from the urban environment. 

Riccarton is home to Westfield Riccarton Mall, the largest shopping center in the South Island. Here, you’ll find a wide range of shops, from high-end boutiques to popular chain stores, satisfying all your shopping needs.

Hagley Park, one of Christchurch’s most iconic green spaces, is located near Riccarton. It’s an excellent spot for leisurely strolls, picnics, and outdoor activities, offering a peaceful retreat from the city hustle.

Best places to stay in Christchurch in Riccarton:

Mid-range ($$): Chateau On The Park – Christchurch, A Doubletree By Hilton, popular 4-star accommodation on Deans Avenue, right next to the Hagley Park and walking distance to the Botanic Garden. It has an Outdoor swimming pool, family rooms, and free parking, which is a bonus for those who drive.

Budget ($): Golden Star Motel, great motel on Clarence Street, within walking distance to the Westfield Riccarton and Tower Junction. You can find bus stops nearby taking you to University of Canterbury  and Riccarton Westfield Metro Station for another bus to the city center and the airport. Just be mindful that some rooms are only accessible by staircases, so it can be quite a challenge for some with heavy luggage.

Budget ($): Carnmore Hagley Park, lovely motel in the heart of Riccarton, easy distance to various restaurants and cafes. It has free secure parking, which is convenient for travelers with a car. The one-bedroom apartment and family suites can accommodate up to 4 people.

Luxury ($$$): Brockworth Cottage, 5-star accommodation in Riccarton offering villa on the ground floor with 2 bed rooms and a fully equipped kitchen. It has free parking and paid airport services. 30 mins walk through the park and botanical gardens to the CBD. 


3. Merivale

Merivale is an upscale residential area located just north of Christchurch city center. This area is home to boutique shopping, cafes, and restaurants. You’ll also be close to downtown’s attractions.

Best places to stay in Christchurch in Merivale:

Mid-range ($$): Randolph Motel Apartments, a well equipped and comfortable place on Papanui Road, Merivale, 10 mins walk to various restaurants. Merivale Mall is nearby. It has free parking, family room, a fitness center, and laundry facilities.

Mid-range ($$): Bealey Plaza Motel, great accommodation on Bealey Avenue City, easy access to the CBD. The hotel has free parking, laundry and luggage storage facilities. Accommodations come with a kitchenette and a private bathroom. It’s on the main road, so it can be a little noisy, you can ask for rooms further back which is probably quieter.

Budget ($): Casino Court Motor Lodge, self-contained accommodation in Merivale, 10 mins walk from Christchurch Casino. It has free parking and kitchen facilities in some rooms.


4. St Albans

St Albans is a charming suburb just north of the CBD, a great base for local atmosphere.  You can find clusters of apartments and motels along Sherborne Streets and Cranford Street. 

Accommodations here are generally cheaper than in the city center and many hotels offer free parking, which is convenient for travelers with a car.

Best places to stay in Christchurch in St Albans:


In conclusion, Christchurch City Centre, Riccarton, and Merivale are the best places to stay in Christchurch for first-timers and tourists. The City Centre is overall the best location for those who want to be in the heart of the city, easy access to attractions, amenities, and public transportation.

You can continue reading about other destinations in New Zealand in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safe neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Christchurch. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

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