The Coolest Neighbourhoods in Christchurch, New Zealand

Looking down on Sumner (left) from Scarborough Hill | © Schwede66/Wikimedia Commons
Looking down on Sumner (left) from Scarborough Hill | © Schwede66/Wikimedia Commons
Photo of Thalita Alves
24 June 2017

Whether you’re spending some extended time in Christchurch, or just happen to be passing through, you’re bound to get curious about the city’s neighbourhoods and areas. To help you navigate around this New Zealand destination, let’s take a closer look at some of the coolest suburbs to line its streets.


Merivale is a predominantly-residential area located north of the city centre. A handful of narrow streets in its vicinity showcase the historic cottages that brought the neighbourhood to life in the 19th century. Along with being in a central location, Merivale is also highly desirable because of its local mall – a chic establishment that boasts a large selection of boutique shops, cafes, bars and restaurants.

St Andrew's Chapel at Rangi Ruru Girls' School in Merivale | © Bernard Spragg/Flickr


Sumner is a seaside suburb that is nestled in a coastal valley which separates it from other neighbouring areas. It was named after former Archbishop of Canterbury John Bird Sumner, and is believed to be one of the oldest European settlements in the Christchurch area. In present times, Christchurch locals are drawn to Sumner because of its beach – which is quite popular in the summer month among surfers, swimmers and holidaying families.

Looking down on Sumner (left) from Scarborough Hill | © Schwede66/Wikimedia Commons


Located south-east of Christchurch, Ferrymead is known as the main thoroughfare for reaching areas like Sumner and Pegasus Bay. Many commercial operations relocated to Ferrymead after the 2011 earthquakes, transforming the neighbourhood into a snazzy retail and hospitality hot spot. The suburb is also home to the Ferrymead Heritage Park, which aptly recreates and memorialises Christchurch life in the Edwardian era.

Ferrymead Heritage Park, Christchurch | © Nate Cull/Flickr


Rising above the southern end of city centre just north of Port Hills, Cashmere is a favourite among locals who want to escape the downtown rush without straying out of the urban areas. History buffs will relish the suburb’s village-like flair, and the heritage buildings that come along with it – including esteemed crime writer Dame Ngaio Marsh’s former residence, which now serves as a museum. A trove of chilled out cafés and and retail shops also add to Cashmere’s appeal.

Swan Lake Gardens, Cashmere, Christchurch | © Jocelyn Kinghorn/Flickr


One of Christchurch’s most affluent suburbs, Fendalton is situated west of central Christchurch near the University of Canterbury. It is also within close quarters of the main route that heads from downtown into Christchurch International Airport. Aside from its highly desirable location, Fendalton is also renowned for being one of the city’s oldest residential areas – the Mona Vale homestead is one of the noteworthy sites that showcase the lush neighbourhood’s heritage.

Mona Vale Homestead, Fendalton, Christchurch | © Bernard Spragg/Flickr

St Albans

St Albans is one of Christchurch’s largest suburbs. It is situated within walking distance of the city centre, just west of Merivale, and is also centred around the Edgeware Village shopping precinct – which was hit quite hard by the 2011 earthquakes, but is slowly getting back on its feet. There are various parks in the area, including Malvern Park, St Albans Park and English Park, the latter of which is Christchurch’s main football/soccer stadium.

Abberley Park, St Albans | © Jocelyn Kinghorn/Flickr


Ilam is the leafy suburb that houses the University of Canterbury. It is more than just a ‘student zone’ though: the area is a mere five kilometres (3.1 miles) from the city centre, is incredibly close to the major retail hub of Riccarton and is quite handy to the international airport. There are also many cafés, eateries, and a bookshop right near the university for students and visitors alike to relish. Ilam is also home to the Ilam Homestead, a somewhat-infamous heritage site that was used for Peter Jackson’s 1994 psychological drama Heavenly Creatures.

Ilam Homestead | © uoc-day-by-day/Flickr

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