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Heading '''West''' you could try hitching from the beginning of Yaldhurst Road at Upper Riccarton or alternatively take the bus (or get dropped off) at the Yaldhurst Road/Russley Road intersection - this is at the start of State Highway 73 but there is a really good area for cars to pull over just past the intersection and before they get up to highway speed.
Sleep == If you are arriving later in the day without planned accommodation it may be better to ask to be dropped on the outskirts before you actually enter Christchurch . Both highways entering from the north and the south are surrounded by a lot of partial rural and suburban (ie Belfast suburb) where you can either sleep in a paddock (take normal trespassing precautions) or small park. In the morning you can hitch further into the city or take a bus. If you find yourself in the city centre there aren't really any great areas for camping. The massive Hagley park area is possible but I would suggest just a sleeping bag in some bushes rather than a tent (even though the huge field are tempting) due to the potential of unwanted attention from late night drinkers etc, and the fact that each field is owned by a private entity who won't take kindly to finding you sleeping there.
[http://www.liftershalte.info/?lat=-43.52051630708376&lng=172.53418922424316&zoom=17&trip=0&view=2 On the map at Liftershalte.info]