When you are travelling the South Island, you are likely to either arrive or depart through Christchurch International Airport – the gateway to Christchurch and the South Island.
There have been some major changes at the airport and the surrounding area over recent months, so we decided to provide a bit of a guide as to what you can expect when you land in the Garden City.
1) Spitfire Square
If you are picking up a rental car or campervan, you might want to take some time to stock up with groceries for your stay in the South Island, or simply get a meal after a long flight.
Spitfire Square is located just past the main roundabout as you leave the airport, and is home to a large supermarket (Countdown) a pharmacy and a number of different eateries, ranging from Burgerfuel to Indian food, Mexican food, McDonalds, Japanese food and a Muffin Break cafe. Note that the supermarket is open from 7am to 10pm daily.
Perfect to make sure you are well nourished before you hit the road north or south of the city, or head on out to find your Christchurch accommodation for the night.
2) Memorial Gateway Bridge under construction
A major change to the entrance and exit from the airport is currently under construction, with completion due in 2018. If you are interested in more detail on this development, check out the NZTA website or watch the video below:
This is an underpass which will enable easier access into and out of the airport surrounds once it has been completed. In the interim, traffic lights have been installed which takes traffic around the roadworks to the left and right, which means drivers need to ensure they are in the right hand lanes if you wish to head down Memorial Avenue towards the central city.
Leaving the airport, you will turn left, then right to get around the roadworks, so staying in the right hand lane is advised.
If you don’t wish to travel down Memorial Avenue, then turn left and stay in the left hand lane to proceed to the next roundabout and onwards.
Again, look out for arrows and signage to indicate what lanes you should be in.
3) Roundabouts – Give way to the right!
If you are not familiar with the area around the airport, take note that you will encounter a number of large traffic roundabouts rather than traffic lights, especially if you are heading north out of the city or towards the northern part of Christchurch (for example towards Papanui, where we are located.)
Several of these roundabouts are currently part of the roadworks that are being carried out on this traffic corridor, which can make things a little confusing, but our best advice is to look out for the signs, ensure you are in the right hand lane if you are intending to turn right, and to always remember that you need to give way to your right to any traffic on or entering the roundabout.
4) Johns Road/State Highway 1 roadworks
Transit New Zealand have been developing the access to Christchurch from the north into a four lane motorway that links up Johns Road with State Highway 1. Major roadworks continue but are due to be completed in early 2018.
If you are heading north out of Christchurch, keep following the main road exiting out the roundabouts until you reach the intersection of Johns Road and Main North Road.
You can get a recent overview of this development on this video from August 2016. This shows the new Western Belfast Bypass under construction.
If you are looking for tourist spots to visit, both Orana Park and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve are located off this road – just look out for their signage and prepare to turn.