Any of the less expensive places will do fine. My standby is the YMCA. I think you will find a large number of people staying there. Thomas’s is a little more expensive but has a kitchen if you want to do your own cooking. There are a number of reasonably priced B+B’s. Most are no more than 5 or 6 big city blocks from the center of town. I can’t think of the name of theone we stay at, maybe later I’ll remember. They serve a full breakfast each morning to their guests
I think it’s best to get one in town and not out by the airport as you will probably be socializing a bit.
The patron bar of the Antarctic Program is Baileys bar. It’s on the square across from the cathedral. No doubt you will find a number of people heading to the ice there. The other place you might find some ice people is Dux Deluxe. It’s down the street from the Y and has good food and bands.
You will have an opportunity to make friends all the way from the airport in LA to the Antarctic Center. Buddy up with someone who has been down before. Christchurch is full of wonderful restaurants. Carry a raincoat. It can be wet at this time of year.