Fondly referred to as the ‘Garden City’, if you are after sightseeing and exploring the great outdoors with a dash of adventure thrown in then Christchurch is the place to be! Within a couple of hour’s drive you can be skiing in the Southern Alps, surfing at the beach, hiking the alpine trails, swimming with dolphins or just chilling out in the beautiful Hagley Park in the City centre.
With so many great things to do and places to visit in Christchurch your only problem will be figuring out what to do first! That’s why we have put together this handy guide to all the best things to do in Christchurch – take a look below.
Top 5 Christchurch Attractions
Looking for the best tourist attractions in Christchurch? Take a look below for our top 5 Christchurch attractions not to be missed on your next holiday in Christchurch.
1. International Antarctic Centre
Open every day of the year the International Antarctic Centre is a great place to start your tour of Christchurch. You will find a whole lot of fun packed into this conservation-based arctic attraction such as interactive displays, Little Blue Penguins, the Storm Dome experience and even the chance to ride on board the Hägglund (an authentic arctic vehicle designed specifically for traveling across the ice bound landscapes of Antarctica).
Don’t miss ‘meeting the Huskies’ while you are there, these stunning dogs and the stories behind their historic part in the exploration of Antarctica are truly inspiring. The Antarctic Centre is open 9am through to 5.30 pm each day, standard entry tickets are available for $59 per adult and $29 per child these prices include the Hägglund Field Trip ride.
2. The Christchurch Gondola
Want to get to the top of the Christchurch Port Hills the easy way? Travel in comfort by taking the Christchurch Gondola. At almost 500 metres above sea level, visiting the Port Hills is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of the City and its surrounding landscapes.
As if the stunning 360 degree views of the city, the Banks Peninsula, and Canterbury Plains weren’t enough, there are also a wide range of walking, hiking and mountain biking trails easily accessed from the top of the Hills, along with an excellent cafe and informative Heritage Centre. Tickets are priced at $30 per adult and $15 per child.
3. The Christchurch Adventure Park
Perfect for the avid riders out there and those seeking some outdoor fun, the Christchurch Adventure Park is located up on the Port Hills so you get all of the great scenery and views as well as some awesome downhill runs.
The best part about the Christchurch Adventure Park is there is a chairlift to carry you back to the top ready for another great ride! Not really into biking? Take a break at the onsite Village Café and Bar, take a nature walk or give the epic dual-lined Zipline a go for some downhill fun of a different kind.
4. Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
One of the best ways to get up close to many of New Zealand’s farm animals (you can even hand feed some of them!) Willowbank is a fun family treat complete with Kiwi House, onsite café and KoTane cultural experience. Expect to see a range of exotic and NZ native animals such as sheep, horses, pigs, possum as well as birdlife such as the Takahe, Kea, Weka and many more.
Enjoy making your own way around the animals through the nature walkway or take a guided tour for a little extra info on your way. Willowbank is open daily from 9.30am and is just 5 minutes’ drive from the Christchurch Airport or 20 minutes from the central city. Entry fees are currently priced at $32.50 per adult and $12 per child.
5. Orana Wildlife Park
New Zealand’s largest wildlife park, the Orana Wildlife Park is considered an open range zoo and is home to a wide variety of native and exotic animals and wildlife. Conservation is the key focus of the Park and they participate in many zoo-based breeding programs and animal research operations each year.
On your visit expect to see exotic animals such as White Rhino, Gorillas and Giraffe, along with the usual suspects including Lions, Cheetah and Meerkats, as well as some New Zealand classics such as the Tuatara and Kiwi. The Park covers a whopping 80 hectares so be prepared for some walking (or you can take the convenient Safari Shuttle Bus around if you wish). Entry fees are currently $36.50 per adult and $9.50 per child.
5 Best Places To Visit In Christchurch
Nestled on a relatively flat piece of land in between the southern ocean and the Canterbury Plains, Christchurch is the perfect place for sightseeing and exploring by car. Within easy driving distance you will find a large amount of things to see and do and the roads are easy to navigate and relatively flat unless you head up into the hills. Here are our best places to visit when sightseeing in Christchurch.
1. The Margaret Mahy Playground
Located on Armagh Street in Christchurch central this one is an easy option for those who don’t want to travel far. This epic playground provides plenty for the little ones (and not so little ones) to occupy themselves for hours including a dedicated ‘water play’ area, flying fox, giant slide, sandpit and climbing web.
Entry to the Margaret Mahy playground is free and you will find ice cream and coffee vendors on site for quick refreshments on the day. Toilets are also available along with shaded areas and free-to-use BBQ facilities.
2. Hagley Park
One of Christchurch’s best ways to take a break from the daily hustle and bustle, Hagley Park is 164 hectares of lush green spaces complete with sports fields, event grounds, flowers and trees from around the world, walkways and more.
Entry to Hagley Park is free although sometimes the various events held at the Park do require an entry fee. The beautiful Avon River winds its way through the northern end of the Park where you can step back in time and enjoy ‘Punting on the Avon’ which takes you along the river in a flat bottomed boat complete with an ‘Old English’ inspired Punter/guide.
3. Botanic Gardens
The Botanic Gardens represent everything that is ‘green’ about Christchurch and provide the best opportunity to understand why Christchurch is called the ‘Garden City’. These absolutely stunning historic gardens are immaculately maintained and cared for with ancient trees and garden displays – the origin of some dating back to the founding fathers of Christchurch City.
The botanic gardens are centrally located within Hagley Park with access from the northern or city side near the Avon River, free parking is available. Don’t miss the Central Rose Garden and Fern House as you wander about this tranquil free-to-enter attraction in Christchurch.
4. Akaroa And The Banks Peninsula
This small sea-side village located an hour and a half’s drive from Christchurch out among the windswept hills of the Banks Peninsula. Akaroa is a favourite day trip destination from Christchurch and offers a good range of eateries, wildlife cruises and boutique accommodation if you wish to turn the day trip into an overnighter.
Akaroa has a distinct French inspired atmosphere with many of the town’s street names and businesses taking on the French theme. One of the best things to do in Akaroa is taking a cruise to see the rare Hector’s dolphins, as well as spotting some of the resident seals and little penguins located around the edges of the Bay.
5. Quail Island
We go off the beaten track a little for this one and recommend a visit to the unique little Quail Island. This tiny island nestled in the middle of Lyttelton Harbour is a great little day trip and provides a fun and interesting walk along with fantastic views.
Daily ferry services depart from the Lyttelton Port for as little as $30 per adult and $15 per child return. The ferry ride is a fantastic little addition to the day and provides great views of the Island on approach. There are toilets and picnic facilities located on the Island.
What’s On In Christchurch Today?
Only in Christchurch for a short time and want to know what’s on while you are here? Here is a breakdown of the best places in Christchurch to find the latest events, shows, live bands and much more!
1. The Art Gallery
The most iconic art Gallery in Christchurch is the beautiful centrally located Christchurch Art Gallery. A continually changing line-up of events are scheduled at the Gallery as well as all the usual more permanent exhibitions. Free guided tours are available between the hours of 11 am and 2 pm daily.
The Art Gallery is located on the corner of Worcester Boulevard and Montreal Street and is open daily from 10am to 5 pm. For more information on events at the Christchurch Art Gallery see here
2. The Canterbury Museum
Conveniently situated at the main entrance to the Botanic Gardens, the Canterbury Museum is a great way to learn a little about New Zealand’s cultural history and Maori residents. The museum is home to a range of exhibitions including taking a look at New Zealand’s native birds, Maori history, Kiwiana and the unique opportunity to read about some of the earthquake related experiences of Christchurch residents of the time.
Entry to the Museum is free, however donations are much appreciated. The Museum is open from 9 to 5.30 pm daily, see here for more information on what’s on at the Christchurch museum today.
3. The Arts Centre
This beautiful set of historic buildings were lucky enough to survive the Christchurch earthquakes for the most part and have been lovely restored and strengthened. The Arts Centre holds a variety of events throughout the year including exhibitions, festivals, workshops and activities.
The Arts Centre is open from 10am to 5pm every day except Christmas Day and Good Friday at Easter. Entry to the buildings in the complex is free however individual events may charge an entry fee. There is an information centre located at the ‘Rutherford’s Den’ area in the Clock Tower who are happy to advise you on the events and facilities available at the Arts Centre on a daily basis.
4. The Christchurch Town Hall
One of New Zealand’s best performance venues, the Christchurch town Hall comes complete with multi-purpose event spaces suitable for conferences, exhibitions, and performances of all kinds. An ever-changing line up of events mean there is sure to be something for everyone.
See performances from the likes of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, the Royal New Zealand Ballet, singers and musicians, choirs, comedians and much more. For more information on what’s on at the Christchurch Town Hall see here.
5. More Events In Christchurch…
Looking for something more specific? Christchurch has a wide variety of events and gatherings scheduled throughout the year. You will find everything from music and live performances, to theatre and shows as well as boutique movies, sporting events and annual festivals.
See here for more information on current events in Christchurch and what’s on in Christchurch today.
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