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Things to do in Christchurch

Things to do in  Christchurch

Welcome to Christchurch

Known for its Anglo-influenced architecture and well-manicured gardens, the South Island city of Christchurch is the epicenter of New Zealand’s colonial heritage. But for all its inherited English charm, Christchurch is a modern Kiwi city in the midst of a rebirth following the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. Visitors enjoy peaceful punt rides down the Avon River, visits to the verdant Christchurch Botanic Gardens, and gondola rides into the Port Hills. Expansive Hagley Park offers city dwellers space to stroll among the cherry trees, jog or hike on the on the numerous trails, or relax and set up a picnic; while bustling New Regent Street is lined with shops, restaurants, and sidewalk cafes serving up regional specialties. Christchurch also acts as a home base for day trips to points further afield. Visitors can taste wine vinted from homegrown grapes in the Waipara wine region, explore Arthur’s Pass National Park, or summit the formidable Mt. Cook. Departures for the Banks Peninsula and Akaroa Harbor offer the opportunity to see the South Island’s picturesque physical features, and a trip on the TranzAlpine Train, which runs daily from Christchurch to Greymouth on the west coast, takes passengers on what is considered New Zealand’s most scenic train ride.

Top 15 attractions in Christchurch

Lake Tekapo

A glacial lake on New Zealand’s South Island, Lake Tekapo is an adventurer’s playground by day—and a stargazer’s heaven at night. On a clear night, southern hemisphere constellations, plus the Milky Way and the southern lights, shine spectacularly in the UNESCO-listed Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve.More

TranzAlpine Train

The TranzAlpine Train is New Zealand’s most spectacular train journey, one which winds its way through the dramatic gorges and alpine forests of the Southern Alps, over staggering viaducts and dizzying mountain passes. From Christchurch on the East Coast to Greymouth on the West Coast, this almost 5-hour trip serves up endless photo opportunities as it runs through the heart of the South Island.More

Arthur's Pass National Park

In the heart of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, Arthur’s Pass National Park is a sprawling landscape marked by soaring mountains, lush valleys, and powerful rivers. It offers adventurous visitors of all levels varied hiking tracks, open ski fields, and remarkable natural wonders such as forests, caves, waterfalls, glaciers, and more.More

Lake Pukaki

Bright turquoise Lake Pukaki is one of the most beautiful—and most photographed—bodies of water in New Zealand. Many travelers make a quick stop by the lake en route to Mt. Cook, New Zealand’s tallest mountain, but it’s worth spending a bit more time there to hike, bike, or just savor the views.More

Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Christchurch, coined the Garden City, is an Anglophile settlement of well-tended gardens and tree-lined streets. Its crowning jewel is the 52-acre (21-hectare) Christchurch Botanic Gardens, attractively set within Hagley Park alongside the winding Avon River. The gardens are planted with thousands of exotic and indigenous plants and trees including seasonal blooms such as magnolias, azaleas, and 250 varieties of roses.More

International Antarctic Centre

Across the road from New Zealand’s Christchurch International Airport lies the next best thing to visiting Antarctica itself: the International Antarctic Centre. Here the whole family can experience a simulation of the harsh Antarctic climate, learn all about the icy continent, and meet the center’s cutest residents—little blue penguins.More

Christchurch Gondola

Enjoy a bird’s-eye view from more than 1,640 feet (500 meters) above sea level on the Christchurch Gondola. Take in 360-degree views of the Christchurch cityscape set against a scenic backdrop of the Canterbury Plains, Southern Alps, and Banks Peninsula. It’s a not-to-be-missed experience for visitors of all ages.More

Banks Peninsula

The Banks Peninsula is the bulbous thumb of land that juts out into the Pacific Ocean south-east of Christchurch, on New Zealand’s South Island. The town of Akaroa has an interesting French heritage, which is rather unusual in a country colonized by the British, and the rest of the peninsula is a nature-lover’s paradise, offering outdoor and nature-oriented activities.More

Church of the Good Shepherd

Built in 1935 as a memorial to the pioneers of Mackenzie County, the Church of the Good Shepherd is set on the scenic shores of Lake Tekapo, framed by snow-capped mountain peaks. In addition to being a popular tourist attraction, this heritage building continues to serve as a place of worship.More

Mona Vale

An elegant Victorian homestead presides over 9.9 acres (4 hectares) of gardens and landscaped lawns in this Christchurch park. With blooming flowers, walking paths, and manicured garden beds, Mona Vale is primarily used for weddings and events. The gardens, however, are open to all, with an on-site restaurant serving light meals.More

Pegasus Bay Winery and Restaurant

The Pegasus Bay Winery is one of the most highly respected wineries in New Zealand. Located in the Waipara Valley region north of Christchurch, this family-run winery has been producing wine for several decades. It’s an easy place to visit from Christchurch for some wine tasting and a delicious meal.More

Sumner Beach

The beach suburb of Sumner might be hidden from Christchurch by the Port Hills, but this vibrant summer hot spot is only a short drive east from the CBD. Visitors can enjoy a dip at Sumner Beach, relax on the beach’s golden sands, or enjoy a coffee or ice cream on the waterfront at one of the suburb’s promenade cafés.More

Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

Willowbank Wildlife Reserve is a family-friendly reserve on the outskirts of Christchurch. Meet both native animals and creatures from all over the world while supporting and contributing to Willowbank’s conservation efforts. Get close to all kinds of critters, from kiwi to kunekune pigs and everything in between.More

Canterbury Museum

Covering three floors of a stunning neo-Gothic building in heart of Christchurch, the Canterbury Museum tells the stories of the region and the world around us. Walk down a re-created 19th-century Christchurch street, see the skeletons of dinosaurs and extinct native birds, and marvel at the vehicles Antarctic explorers once used to get to the South Pole.More

Avon River

The Avon River (Otakaro) flows from its source in the western suburbs of Christchurch and through the central city, making it a focal point for recreation. Leaving the central city, the Avon flows west and out to the Avon Heathcote Estuary. A popular destination with locals and tourists alike, you can walk along the Avon’s banks, relax in Hagley Park or the Botanic Gardens with a view of the river, or go on an English-style punt boat.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 2 Days in Christchurch

How to Spend 2 Days in Christchurch

Ways to Experience Maori Culture in Christchurch

Ways to Experience Maori Culture in Christchurch

Top activities in Christchurch

TranzAlpine Train, Arthur's Pass & Castle Hill Day Trip from Christchurch
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Christchurch Gondola Ride Ticket

Christchurch Gondola Ride Ticket

Christchurch Hop-On Hop-Off Tram

Christchurch Hop-On Hop-Off Tram

Mount Cook, Lake Tekapo & Tasman Glacier(Small Group Day Tour From Christchurch)
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Kaikoura Whale Watch Day Tour from Christchurch
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Lyttelton Shore Excursion: Christchurch Sights with Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
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Lyttelton Shore Excursion: Christchurch Sightseeing with Antarctic Center
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Christchurch To Lake Tekapo One-way Transfer
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Lord of the Rings - Journey to Edoras from Christchurch
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Guided Walking Tour and Picnic on Banks Peninsula
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Explore Mount Cook from Christchurch
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All about Christchurch

When to visit

Christchurch is a year-round destination, with summer and winter being the most popular times to visit. December through February sees warm, sunny days, though the northwesterly wind—which blows all year but is most prevalent during these months—keeps things comfortable. In winter, Christchurch is a great base for nearby ski fields. To escape the crowds, visit in autumn when the Garden City shows of its fall foliage.

People Also Ask

What is Christchurch famous for?

Christchurch is famous for its English-inspired architecture and gardens, as well as for the Christ Church Cathedral in the center of town and its heritage tramway. It’s also famous as a gateway to the Southern Alps mountains inland, and to the Banks Peninsula east of the city.

What is there to do in Christchurch?

In Christchurch city, ride the heritage tram around the central areas and spend time in Hagley Park and the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Punt on the Avon River if the weather’s fine, and shop and dine at colorful New Regent Street. Day trip to the Banks Peninsula for wildlife spotting.

When was Christchurch founded?

Christchurch was founded as a European settlement in 1848. Maori settled in what is now Christchurch between 1500–1700 AD.

Where in NZ is Christchurch?

Christchurch is located on the South Island of New Zealand, in the Canterbury region. It’s roughly halfway down the east coast of the island and northwest of the Banks Peninsula. Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island.

What is there to do in Christchurch for families?

There's plenty for families to do in Christchurch. Ride the restored vintage tram through the central city, punt on the Avon River, and visit the Orana Wildlife Park or Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. Learn more about New Zealand’s southern neighbor at the International Antarctic Centre and enjoy views from the gondola.

How many days do I need in Christchurch?

Many travelers find that two to three days in Christchurch is ideal and enough time to experience the central city areas as well as some nearby attractions. Up to five days allows time for half-day or full-day trips to Lyttelton, Sumner, the Banks Peninsula, and Akaroa.


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