Christchurch, a vibrant and picturesque city in New Zealand’s South Island, offers a perfect blend of urban bustle and serene attractions.
Nestled in the heart of the Canterbury region, this city boasts a rich history, colourful culture, and an array of unique activities.
From its picturesque gardens, and historic architecture, to bustling events and festivals, Christchurch provides an unforgettable experience for locals and visitors alike.
Visitors to Christchurch will be spoilt for choice with a multitude of activities and attractions that cater to different interests.
The Christchurch Botanic Gardens are perfect for nature enthusiasts, offering meticulously landscaped flora and picnic spots for a quaint afternoon.
For those seeking a thrill, activities like jet boating and bungee jumping will undoubtedly get the adrenaline pumping.
In addition to the abundance of outdoor explorations, Christchurch also offers rich cultural experiences for history buffs and art lovers.
The Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial serves as a poignant reminder of the city’s resilience, while the International Antarctic Centre offers a unique insight into the world’s southernmost continent.
With so many activities and attractions to explore, Christchurch promises a memorable trip for all who visit.
Things to Do in Christchurch
Christchurch, one of the most popular South Island destinations, offers a wide array of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy.
From serene botanic gardens to thrilling outdoor adventures, there is something for everyone in this charming city situated on the banks of the Avon River and surrounded by the magnificent Canterbury Plains.
Christchurch Botanic Gardens
At the heart of the city, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens are a must-see for nature lovers.
With an impressive collection of native and exotic plants, a stroll through these gardens is a delightful experience.
Visitors can also enjoy guided tours, or learn about the flora in the visitor centre.
Don’t miss the Rose Garden and the nearby tropical plant conservatory at Cuningham House.
International Antarctic Centre
A variety of interactive exhibits and experiences are available, such as a thrilling Hagglund ride, a 4D movie, and the chance to see live penguins up close.
Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop for a souvenir.
Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial
The memorial pays tribute to the lives lost in the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes and provides a serene space for reflection.
Christchurch Art Gallery
Art enthusiasts will appreciate the diverse collection at the Christchurch Art Gallery.
Featuring works by renowned New Zealand artists as well as international pieces, the gallery provides a feast for the eyes and offers regular exhibitions and events throughout the year.
Learn about Christchurch’s history and the impact of the earthquakes on the city at Quake City.
This informative and engaging exhibit offers first-hand accounts of the disaster, the recovery process, and the city’s ongoing rebuilding efforts.
Take a ride on the Christchurch Gondola for breathtaking views of the city, the Canterbury Plains, and the Southern Alps.
At the summit, there’s an observation deck, an excellent café (The Red Rock cafe), and walking trails to explore the area further.
Air Force Museum
Aviation fans shouldn’t miss the Air Force Museum, home to an extensive collection of aircraft and artefacts that tell the story of New Zealand’s military aviation history.
Guided tours are available, and there’s also a hands-on space for kids to enjoy.
Though it was damaged in the 2011 earthquake, Christchurch Cathedral remains a significant historical site with a rich history dating back to the 19th century.
While restoration efforts are ongoing, visitors can still admire the cathedral’s striking architecture from outside the building site.
Outdoor Activities and Nature
Christchurch, in the Canterbury Region of the South Island of New Zealand, offers numerous outdoor activities and natural attractions.
In this section, we’ll explore some popular outdoor activities and their locations.
The Port Hills, overlooking Christchurch, provide a scenic backdrop for various outdoor activities.
You can explore the numerous walking and mountain biking tracks while taking in the stunning views of the city and coastline.
Visit Sumner Beach
Sumner Beach is an ideal spot for a relaxing day out in Christchurch. The beach offers pristine sand and ideal swimming conditions.
The nearby village boasts cafes and boutiques, perfect for browsing after a day in the sun.
Spanning over 164 hectares, Hagley Park is Christchurch’s most significant green space.
Hagley Park is popular among locals for its walking, running, and cycling paths, and it’s a great place to enjoy a leisurely picnic with family and friends.
For adrenaline seekers, jet boating on the Waimakariri River is a must-try activity.
This high-speed experience offers an exciting way to explore the breathtaking Canterbury Region.
Companies like Hassle Free Tours offer thrilling jet boat rides.
Explore Quail Island’s natural beauty, just a short ferry ride from Christchurch.
Rich in marine life, the island is ideal for kayaking or for taking a dip in crystal-clear waters.
The island has walking tracks, perfect for a day’s hike.
A trip to Christchurch would be incomplete without a visit to Arthur’s Pass, a beautiful mountainous region with plenty of outdoor pursuits.
Enjoy scenic walks, challenging hikes, and immerse yourself in the natural world of New Zealand’s South Island.
Just a short drive from Christchurch, Hanmer Springs offers both relaxation and adventure.
Experience tranquillity in the natural hot spring pools or indulge in a range of outdoor activities such as mountain biking, hiking or a thrilling bungee jump.
Arts and Culture
Brockworth Street Art Gallery
It is part of the city’s vibrant arts scene, which has been rejuvenated post-earthquake.
This gallery displays work from both local and international artists, making it a must-visit for art enthusiasts.
The Canterbury Museum is a great place to explore Christchurch’s heritage and culture.
Located on Montreal Street, it houses an extensive collection of artefacts that tell the story of the region’s history.
From early Maori artefacts to Victorian-era exhibits, the museum offers a fascinating insight into the cultural development of Christchurch.
(Closed for redevelopment)
New Brighton Pier
New Brighton Pier is a popular destination for both tourists and locals, offering stunning views of the surrounding area.
Along with its picturesque setting, the pier is home to Red Rock Café, where you can grab a bite and relax while taking in the beautiful surroundings.
A stroll along the pier or a visit to the nearby beach is a perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon in Christchurch.
World Buskers Festival
Held annually, the World Buskers Festival is one of Christchurch’s most anticipated events.
It attracts performers from all around the world, showcasing diverse talents, including music, comedy, and street theatre.
Visitors can enjoy an array of performances held across various brick-wall-lined venues throughout the city.
This lively event is a testament to the dynamic arts and culture scene in Christchurch.
Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu
In addition to these highlight attractions, Christchurch is also home to the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, another must-visit for art lovers.
The gallery houses an important collection of New Zealand art, showcased in a distinctive curved steel and glass building.
Whatever your artistic interests, Christchurch has plenty to offer in terms of arts and culture, ensuring a memorable experience for locals and visitors alike.
Explore the Region
Christchurch, often referred to as the Garden City, is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand.
With its picturesque location between the Pacific Ocean and the Southern Alps, it is a perfect starting point for exploring the surrounding Canterbury region.
In this section, we will cover some of the best places and activities to experience in the Christchurch region, including the Banks Peninsula, Lyttelton Harbour, and the famous TranzAlpine Train.
The Banks Peninsula is a stunning area of volcanic landscapes, picturesque bays, and charming fishing villages just a short drive from central Christchurch.
A popular South Island destination, it is known for its scenic drives, walking trails, and opportunities for spotting wildlife such as seals, dolphins, and penguins.
Key attractions on the peninsula include the artist town of Akaroa, with its French history and beautiful harbour, and the Orton Bradley Park, which offers hiking trails and a taste of rural Canterbury life.
Don’t miss the breathtaking views from the Hilltop Tavern on the road to Akaroa, as well as the coastal scenery of Summit Road.
Lyttelton Harbour, situated on the eastern edge of the Banks Peninsula, is a significant port town with a rich history and character.
Accessible via the Lyttelton Tunnel or a scenic drive over the Port Hills from Sumner, this harbour town offers exciting art galleries, cafes, and the lively Lyttelton Farmers Market every Saturday.
The harbour itself is a hub for water-based activities such as kayaking, sailing, and fishing.
Visitors can also take a cruise to Quail Island or explore the remnants of old military installations on the Godley Head Coastal Walk.
Recognised as one of the great train journeys in the world, the TranzAlpine Train is a truly unforgettable experience.
Departing from downtown Christchurch, the train takes passengers on a scenic five-hour journey across the Canterbury Plains, through the stunning Southern Alps, and onto the West Coast town of Greymouth.
The TranzAlpine offers panoramas of the Waimakariri River, the Canterbury Plains, and the dramatic mountain landscapes.
While aboard, enjoy comfortable seating, large viewing windows, and an open-air viewing carriage for an immersive experience.
The train operates daily, making it easy to incorporate this unique adventure into your Christchurch itinerary.
One fantastic activity for families visiting Christchurch is embarking on a Lord of the Rings Tour of Edoras.
Operated by Hassle-Free Tours, this tour takes visitors on a journey through the stunning landscapes that inspired the world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth.
It is an excellent way to appreciate New Zealand’s breathtaking scenery while exploring unique film locations that have enchanted countless Lord of the Rings fans.
Pickup from Rolleston Avenue, outside the Museum.
Another delightful attraction sure to charm the whole family is horse trekking.
This activity allows participants to ride through picturesque countryside, providing a unique vantage point to take in the beauty of the surrounding landscape.
With treks suitable for all ages and skill levels, it’s a fantastic opportunity for families to bond while enjoying the great outdoors.
Orana Park – Open Range Zoo
For those animal lovers in the family, Orana Wildlife Park is a must-visit attraction in Christchurch.
This open-range zoo, located within 80 hectares of tranquil grounds, features various unique animal encounters, such as hand-feeding giraffes and getting close and personal with lions, rhinos, and tigers.
Children and adults alike will delight in the opportunity to learn about and interact with the park’s diverse array of animals.
Animals to see at Lions, Rhinos, Hand-feeding Giraffes, Tigers, Keeper-led presentations, Giraffes and up-close animal encounters
For a memorable and adorable experience, don’t miss the chance to see blue penguins in their natural habitat.
These small nocturnal birds, unique to New Zealand, can be observed waddling ashore after a day of fishing or relaxing on the rocky coastline.
This charming encounter is an excellent way for families to learn about the city’s history and the nation’s unique wildlife.
In summary, Christchurch offers an array of family-friendly attractions, from exploring the cinematic world of Middle Earth to riding horses through beautiful landscapes, discovering wildlife at an open-range zoo, and watching blue penguins in their natural habitat.
Each of these activities provides a fantastic opportunity for families to bond, learn and create unforgettable memories in New Zealand.