Being the south island’s largest city, it sits on the east coast. Christchurch City has lots of influence from the UK.
However, there are some very different things you and the whole family can enjoy while in the area.
Back in 2010 and 2011, it felt the power of two massive earthquakes. However, the city has bounced back to all its glory with some unique and personal ways of dealing with these unfortunate events.
Christchurch tourism is on the up, and it is still one of the must-visit places by anyone who visits New Zealand. Here are ten of the best things to do in Christchurch.
In This Guide
Top Ten Places to Visit in Christchurch
1. Christchurch Botanic Gardens
What began as wetlands and sand-dunes were converted in 1863 with the simple planting of an oak tree. This was the very start of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.
It is a massive favorite for locals and visitors alike. The botanic gardens sit on the one side of the river while North Hagley Park and South Hagley Park sit on the other.
It has since grown into a 21-hectare spectacular that comprises more than ten separate gardens.
Sitting behind the parks is Mona Vale. This is a local favorite for wedding parties. The Homestead and Pantry also have the luxury of sitting on the banks of the Avon.
There are plenty of paths that weave between the garden beds and down the side of the Avon Loop. You can see the archery lawn as you enter from Rolleston Avenue and pass the annual bedding displays.
If the kids are not up for walking, you can take one of the tours on the electric vehicles and cover the expanse must faster than on foot.
2. Take a Gondola
If you want to do something very relaxing while taking in the sights. You can spend a short time Punting on the Avon. The river covers 14 kilometers as it slices through Christchurch city center.
Finally, it makes its way out into the pacific ocean, but your punt won’t be venturing that far. When the weather is ideal, this is one of the most popular pastimes in the city to kick back and relax.
You can see the park and the gardens on either side of you as you start from either of the two prime locations. Kids may like trailing their fingers in the river water along the way.
3. Christchurch Gondola
If you want a sightseeing or photo opportunity, that is very different. This is one of the few Christchurch attractions that can deliver this.
The Christchurch Gondola soars above the valleys to provide a birds-eye 360-degree view of the surrounding areas.
You can see across the Canterbury Plains to the Southern sitting Alps. If you want to get closer to these snow-crested mountains, there are a few multi-day treks that you can join to hit some of the most spectacular trails you can imagine.
Back on the gondola, you and the kids will experience the time tunnel ride that is a reconstruction of the region’s history.
Once you’re hungry, you can fill up in the Red Rock Café before heading back down in the cable car.
4. Orana Wildlife Park
The Orana Wildlife Park sits in 80 hectares and is the only home for gorillas and Orang-utans in New Zealand.
It is just a quick 15 minutes from the airport where the entire family can experience the ultimate animal adventure.
Kids can love their day in the wildlife reserve as they get to hand feed the giraffes, staring eye to eye with a rhino or get to see a kiwi or two. To top that, all the family can explore the majesty of the lion reserve.
There are many different activities to do throughout the day, and kids will leave feeling thrilled they could get up close and personal with so many animals.
5. International Antarctic Centre
If there is a museum that delivers an interactive experience unlike any other, then it will be the International Antarctic Centre. Here, the whole family will learn about one of the coldest places in the remotest of continents.
The location isn’t too far away from where many of the south pole expeditions begin. It can be a fun day yet on the cold side with an indoor Antarctic storm simulation.
There are blue penguins to see, huskies to have selfies with, and much more besides. One thing kids of all ages will enjoy is to buckle up as the Hagglund vehicle tackles the obstacle course. This will be a fun day for every family member, and one they will never forget.
6. Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
If a trip to the zoo isn’t on the cards, then this little wildlife reserve can be somethi9ng for them to enjoy without venturing too far away from town.
The Willowbank Wildlife Reserve splits itself into three sections, the farmyard section, the New Zealand section, and the Exotics/ Zoo section.
There isn’t the chest-beating of gorillas or the roars of lions. There, it is more of a petting zoo where kids can get up close to ponies, rabbits, sheep, and then see the exotic birds. With a bit of luck, they may see a gibbon or two, and perhaps a tortoise and a wallaby.
7. Take a Train or a Drive
If you want to tackle a full day trip, then there are two options depending on the way you wish to travel.
You can take the TranzAlpine train from Christchurch to Greymouth. You will go right past the Southern Alps all the way onto the west coast.
You have a quick hour to roam around or have some lunch, and then the train heads back toward Christchurch, where it will arrive just in time for dinner.
The second trip you can take is if you drive yourself, and make your way to the scenic Lake Tekapo which will take around three hours.
You still get the alpine scenery, yet with views across the lake. After you soak up what there is to offer, you can head back home along state highway 77 to Christchurch.
8. Christchurch Cathedral
The Christchurch Cathedral is one building visitors need to visit. It sits in the middle of Cathedral Square and has suffered over the years because of damage from earthquakes.
What state it will be in because there have been discussions about whether to rebuild, or leave it to rest.
Since then, the Cardboard Cathedral has been the new home of worship for the followers who used the cathedral.
Not far from the square is the New Regent Street. This pedestrian-only shopping plaza has been named New Zealand’s most beautiful street. Regent street buildings are pastel colors, which is something very different.
You can find a place to unwind and soak up the late afternoon sun. There are plenty of places to sit down and relax with a Rollickin Gelato or Mrs. Higgins Oven Fresh Cookies for the kids.
9. Farmers Market
If you want the best of fresh, there is nothing better than a farmers market. In Christchurch, there are a couple of options. There is a market every Saturday on the grounds of Riccarton House.
You can enjoy this market from nine until lunch. The second option is not far from the river in the center of town. Hence the name the Riverside Market.
This indoor market is home to 40 locally producing farmers. There are lots of organic, freshly baked or brewed, and much more.
There is a healthy and vibrant vibe that runs through the place, and it can be somewhere different to sip on a coffee and let the kids roam around the stalls.
10. Christchurch Art Gallery
Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, or just the art gallery as it is easier to say. This was another iconic building that suffered damage.
However, after restoration and a spell as the local defense headquarters, it is now again showing works of arts from Maori artists and artists with a more western style.
The all-glass exterior is an excellent example of how Christchurch rebuilds itself and can cope with these natural disasters.
Art is one of the best forms of self-expression, and the gallery itself is one way to express the direction the city is taking to embrace the future.
When in New Zealand, there is so much to do in and around Christchurch. The above are just a few things to do, and there is so much more. We didn’t even touch on riding around the city on the Christchurch tram system.
This isn’t just a way to get around, and it is one way to soak up all the sites and enjoy your stay in Christchurch, New Zealand.