Car Hire at Christchurch International Airport
This information is correct as of June 2015
Christchurch is the largest city in New Zealand's South island. Though it is well-served by local bus services and other public transport, renting a car is by far the easiest way to get around. It is far more convenient than having to rely on public transportation and allows travellers to get around independently and comfortably. Another pro is that drives around Christchurch are often scenic.
Where to hire a car at Christchurch International Airport
Major rental car and campervan brands of New Zealand have branches in Christchurch International Airport. You can choose from Avis New Zealand, Budget New Zealand, Europcar, Ezi Car Rental, Hertz, and Thrifty. The information desks are located at the international arrivals halls, near the domestic baggage reclaim. These companies will be happy to provide you with a vehicle of your choice. You can also pre-book or hire a car right at the car rental branches at the airport. It's that easy. However, note that when attempting to rent a car right at Christchurch Airport without prior arrangements, the vehicle types and models are subject to availability. You can contact Christchurch Airport's team of travel consultants at (03) 353-7774.
What to expect when hiring a car from Christchurch International Airport
Most car rental agencies in New Zealand will require the renter to have a full driver's licence. It must be valid and held for a minimum of three years. However, each company has its own individual licence, so it would be wise to contact the specific car rental company you will be renting from for theirs. For those whose licence or International Driver's Permit is not in English, you must also have an accurate English translation provided by any of the following: a diplomatic representative at a high commission, embassy, or consulate, the authority that issued the licence, or a translation service approved by Land Transport New Zealand.
Driving around Christchurch International Airport
The central city has several all-day metered parks, with rates ranging from $4 to $8 a day. You can identify the metered parks by the 'pay and display' meters nearby and the signage. There is a new Transport for Christchurch website that provides regular traffic updates and other important and up-to-date information useful for travel within Christchurch. It is very useful for planning a route ahead of time and taking into consideration possible congestion or road works. While many of the car parks are often temporary, the city currently has around 8,000 public car parking spaces (5,000 on-street and 3,000 off-street) within the central city.
Getting to your destination
On the shore of South Island's Lake Wakatipu is the scenic town of Queenstown. It offers tourists a wonderful nightlife, luxury spas, golf courses, and many other activities and attractions. From Christchurch, Queenstown is a six-hour drive away by road, but provides excellent views of the diverse countryside of South Island via State Highway 8.
The small town of Akaroa is located on Banks Peninsula. The harbour on Akaroa is home to a variety wildlife, the most notable of which is the rare Hector's dolphin. Popular activities are cruises and dolphin swimming. Nearby is the Pohatu Marine Reserve. Akaroa is the terminuse of State Highway 75 and is 84 km away from Christchurch.
Hanmer Springs is a small town and spa resort in South Island, built around the hot springs of the same name. These hot springs are the main tourist attractions, but other activities include trekking, mountain biking, and winter sports. Hanmer Springs is situated on a minor road about 9 km north of State Highway 7.