Between Auckland and Christchurch, I’d choose Auckland. With a better climate and cleaner air, you can fully enjoy the city’s huge shopping centers. And are you familiar with the infamous Canterbury nor’ wester? Christchurch has that. Auckland doesn’t.
Christchurch is down south of the country. It is New Zealand’s largest city down there.
Auckland is the largest in the Northern part of the country.
Both cities are unique and deserve a visit. But if you only have time to visit one of these two, I suggest you go with Auckland.
Here, I’ll tell you why.
The Perfect Climate
What I love about Auckland is its climate. It is never too hot. It is never too cold. The climate is just perfect.
The city owes that to its northern geographical location. A sea is found on both sides. This allows the city to get the moderating effect brought about by the seas.
As a result, Auckland has a perfect temperate climate.
Down south, Christchurch always gets the extremes.
The city recently recorded two of the country’s ten hottest days in history. These two days on record showed temperatures of at least 40 degrees Celsius.
On the other tip of the scale, Christchurch also sees snow twice a year. It also gets frost of about 70 days annually.
The last time Auckland saw snow was in 2011. It was 72 years before 2011 when it last snowed.
It may come as a big surprise for you.
Despite the traffic and the presence of industrial areas in Auckland, the city has cleaner air.
It may not be the cleanest in the world.
But on average, it sits at about 15 micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter. The highest it got was around 30 micrograms.
And this is satisfactorily clean by international standards.
Christchurch is not as big as Auckland. But it has more air pollution than the former.
The reason for the air pollution may be because of the wood-burning fires done within the city. The wood-burning activities, coupled with climatic conditions, result in poorer quality of air.
On average, Christchurch gets about 18 particulate matter per cubic meter. They can sometimes go as high as 64.
No Canterbury Nor’wester Winds
The Canterbury Nor’wester winds are often called foehn winds.
It is the combination of hot and dry air plus lower pressure.
The Nor’wester winds start on the Western part of New Zealand. It gathers all the moisture and dumps all its rain on the mountains.
Once this happens, it blows all the hot and dry wind across the Canterbury areas.
According to research, the Nor’wester winds make the Canterbury locals grumpy, anxious, and depressed.
The locals also call it the “te hau kai tangata”. Translated to English, it means “the wind that devours mankind.”
And this is not called as such for no reason.
In 1988, a strong Nor’wester wind blew away many topsoils, resulting in ripped roofs and damaged houses and properties.
If shopping is in your bloodstream, Auckland is the place to be.
The city has large malls in Albany and Sylvia Park. There are also huge ones in St. Lukes, Westgate, as well as in New Lynn.
Aside from these places, you could also shop around Smith & Caughey and the Otara Market on Queen Street.
While I mentioned just these places, there are still more if you try to explore.
Ikea is in town, as well as H&M and a lot more brands.
Certainly, you will never run out of places to shop in Auckland.
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Can you drive from Christchurch to Auckland?
You can drive from Christchurch to Auckland. But this is impractical. Driving from one destination to another takes more than 16 hours. Plus, you also need to take the ferry in between.
The distance between Auckland and Christchurch is 620 miles or 1,000 kilometers.
Both cities are at opposite ends of the country. Auckland is in the north, while Christchurch is in the south.
Yes, you can drive from one city to another. But the travel time takes more than 16 hours.
This method is certainly not the fastest option for you. But there are still travelers who make the journey.
There are many exciting stops along the way. Some notable places you will be passing by are Tongariro National Park, Wellington, and the Kaikoura.
From Auckland to Christchurch, you first have to get to Wellington. The fastest route for you to take is to pass through the State Highway (SH1). This route allows you to pass through Hamilton and Matamata.
You will then pass by Lake Taupo and the Tongariro National Park.
In total, driving through these places alone takes about eight hours.
Once you are in Wellington, take the Inter Islander Ferry. This should pass through the Cook Strait and head on to Picton.
Picton’s location is at the top of the South Island.
The ferries leave for Picton many times a day. The travel time takes about three hours.
In good weather, the trip can be scenic. But during bad weather, the crossing may also be rough.
Once at Picton, drive south.
The ideal route to follow is to go through SH1 and pass through Blenheim and Kaikoura.
From Picton to Christchurch, the travel time is about five hours.
Driving, including the ferry ride, from Auckland to Christchurch takes at least 16 hours. If you stop by any of the tourist sites I mentioned earlier, it can be more.
But if pressed for time, you can take other options like flying.
Many flights travel from Auckland to Christchurch every day.
When flying, you cover a distance of 600 miles in about an hour and a half of flying time.
So far, this is the easiest way to travel from Auckland to Christchurch.
Bus + ferry
Remember the driving route I mentioned earlier?
You can also travel that route by bus. This is an option especially for those without cars. This is also another option if you don’t want to drive all that distance from one city to another.
Buses leave in the morning.
Some buses leave early in the evening.
And when you buy your tickets, it already includes the ferry ride in between.
The travel time can be more than 16 hours in total.
Train + ferry
The rail network in New Zealand is not as extensive as the rail networks you find in other countries. But here, the travel is scenic.
This is more environmentally friendly compared to flying or driving.
Plus, the trains are far more spacious than the buses.
Taking the train from Auckland to Christchurch requires you to take two separate services.
The first is the Northern Explorer that travels from Auckland to Wellington. This takes about 12 hours. The train service on the other island is the Coastal Pacific. The travel time takes an additional 5 hours.
In between these two train services is the ferry ride that takes about 3 hours.
The downfall, however, is that you need to book your ferry ticket.
Also, the Northern Explorer travels only thrice per week. Coastal Pacific, on the other hand, travels daily.
What is special about Christchurch?
Christchurch is famous for its culture and heritage. Street art is thriving in this city, and there are a lot of green spaces within.
Christchurch is unique in its way.
It is a city fit for exploration of the heritage. There are street arts and a lot of other projects.
Plus, there is also the hospitality scene in the city.
The city has a lot of green spaces.
And right smack in the center of the city is some of the country’s oldest buildings. Standing beside the old buildings are newer ones. It is where the old meets the new.
The surrounding regions of Canterbury are unforgettable.
They have picturesque towns. The places surrounding Christchurch are perfect for retreats as well as for adventures.
Try the Hanmer Springs thermal soak. Or visit Kaikoura for its local wildlife.
I know Auckland may be the best of the two. And that’s for a good reason.
But Christchurch is, in itself, a city beautiful on its own.
What is the best time of the year to visit New Zealand?
The summer months of December to March are best in New Zealand. During these months, the days are long, bright, and sunny. This is also the perfect time to visit the beaches.
New Zealand is a picturesque country.
And what better time to explore this beautiful country than during summer?
Summer happens from December to March. The temperatures range from 61 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature and the weather are just perfect for many outdoor activities.
During summer, you can enjoy the country’s many beaches. You can also hike any of its many mountains. Or you can just go out and take a walk or bike.
But if your only time to visit is during another season, New Zealand is still perfect.
You have to know that New Zealand, its rugged beauty and beautiful landscapes, is still a perfect destination no matter the month of the year.
When going on another season aside from summer, there can be a few sprinklings of rain. But that’s not going to deter you from exploring, I know, because the country is worth exploring, rain or shine.
The southern part of the country gets snow from around June to September. Snow is also present in the north but only in its mountainous areas. Such places attract skiers from all corners of the globe.
In spring, New Zealand gets milder weather.
There are fewer visitors, too. But despite that, New Zealand is still a pleasant country to visit.
During this season, New Zealand temperatures range anywhere from the fifties to the sixties.
As you can see, New Zealand is perfect all year round.
I may suggest summer because of the beaches. But if your only time is to visit in winter, why not? The country is perfect all year round.
What language do they speak in New Zealand?
New Zealand has five common languages. English, Maori, and Samoan are common. The other two languages are Northern Chinese (as well as Mandarin) and Hindi.
English is the most dominant language in New Zealand. It is also the de facto official language of the country.
When coming to New Zealand, you would find that almost everyone in the country speaks English. About 94.5% of the country’s total population speaks English.
It is also the language that has been dominant for the longest time.
You will notice that they speak similar to the Australians with a few slight differences.
The indigenous Maori people also use the Maori language.
Despite being less spoken than English, the language is also used in legal settings. However, when used in court, the proceedings are still recorded in English.
The Maori language is somehow related to the Tahitian and Cook Islands Maori.
After the Second World War, Maori was a language discouraged from being used in schools and work. As such, it only existed in a few minor communities in remote areas.
Because of such, people at the time viewed Maori as a language without so much purpose. This led to the decline of its use as people decided not to teach their children the language.
It was only in the 1970s when there was a revitalization of the language. It was only then that more and more people started to use Maori.
New Zealand is a melting pot of many other cultures.
There are immigrants from Europe as well as from other parts of Asia and the Pacific.
With the migration, the cultures, as well as the language, have also diversified.
The numbers point out that aside from English and Maori, there are other languages in New Zealand.
Hindi and Mandarin Chinese are two of the most common immigrant languages in the country. French is also another widely spoken immigrant language here.
Most of the immigrant languages are in major cities like Auckland. In a city like Auckland, you can easily find immigration groups that have long ago settled.
The diverse culture you can find in Auckland adds a subtle charm to the city.
Here, immigrants flock, settle and bring with them a piece of their country’s culture and flavors. In Auckland, you not only explore a city. You are exploring the beauty of the diverse cultures of the world.