20 Things To Do In Christchurch

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Located in the South Island of New Zealand, Christchurch is one of the country’s biggest cities. It’s home to just over 377,000 people, and more than three million people fly in and out of the Christchurch Airport each year, so it’s a very popular New Zealand destination. With beautiful botanical gardens and adventure activities on the doorstep, there are so many exciting things to do in Christchurch.

Christchurch was devastated by earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, but since then, the city has worked hard to rebuild, and it’s easy to fall in love with this city. As well as outdoor activities, there are fantastic museums and exhibitions to see here, so whether you’ve got a weekend or a month, you won’t be short of things to do. To help you plan your trip, here’s our list of the top things to do in Christchurch.

Christchurch, New Zealand

Top tours

21 Things To Do In Christchurch

1- Take A Trip Up The Christchurch Gondola

christchurch gondola
Going on a ride up the gondola is one of the top things to do in Christchurch.

The Christchurch Gondola is built onto the side of the Port Hills, and this 1,000m (3,280ft) long cable car takes you right to the top of the hills.

The ride up provides beautiful views of Christchurch City, improving as you climb.

Once at the top of the Gondola, you’ll be treated to panoramic 360-degree views past the city and Lyttleton Harbour.

There are plenty of walking tracks around the Port Hills, and it’s easy to soak in some of the area’s history by taking part in the Discovery Ride. And, there’s also a great little cafe at the top to enjoy a coffee or lunch with the view.

The Christchurch Gondola is located at 10 Bridle Path Road, Heathcote Valley, Christchurch 8022.

Top tours:

2- Stroll along the Godley Head Trail

If you feel like stretching your legs, the Godley Head Trail (also known as the Awaroa Trail) is the perfect afternoon walk.

This 9.3km (5.7 miles) loop track starts and ends at Taylor’s Mistake Beach, about 20 minutes outside of the Christchurch City Centre.

This trail gives you brilliant views out the east coast and the Pacific Ocean and the opportunity to swim in some of the small, remote beaches such as Boulder Bay.

There are also old military buildings and gun emplacements along the way, which are worth investigating.

The Godley Head Trail starts near 229 Taylors Mistake Road, Te Onepoto / Taylors Mistake, Christchurch 8081.

3- Visit The Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Sunny day in Christchurch Botanic Gardens In New Zealand
Wandering around the Christchurch Botanic Gardens is one of the free things to do in Christchurch.

Christchurch is often called New Zealand’s “Garden City”, partly because of the beautiful sprawling Botanic Gardens.

These gardens were created in 1863 when an oak tree was planted to commemorate a marriage in the Danish Royal family, and they have continued to be cared for and expanded ever since.

There are several themed gardens, many with a particular focus on plants native to New Zealand, as well as New Zealand heritage and culture.

Rose gardens, rock gardens, and water gardens all feature here, and you’ll lose track of time wandering around these beautiful displays of nature.

The Christchurch Botanic Gardens are on Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch 8013.

4- Hands-On Learning At Quake City

In 2010 and 2011, Christchurch was hit by several devastating earthquakes.

Since then, the city has fought to rebuild while commemorating the lives lost in these earthquakes and recognising how Christchurch has had to change and adapt.

One way to learn about these natural disasters’ effect on Christchurch is by visiting the Quake City Museum Exhibition.

This fantastic educational exhibition is suitable for all ages and will be enjoyed by the whole family.

Many displays are interactive and teach visitors of any age about the science surrounding earthquakes.

Quake City is located at 299 Durham Street North, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch 8013.

5- International Antarctic Centre

Visiting the International Antarctic Centre is one of the fun things to do in Christchurch, NZ.

For a whole new experience, and a much chillier one, you must visit the Internation Antarctic Centre, just around the corner from Christchurch Airport.

Christchurch is a “Gateway City to the Antarctic”, and there’s no better place to learn about our icy neighbouring continent.

This centre has been described as “the ultimate Antarctic adventure”, and there’s so much to see and do here.

You can explore the -8C (17.6F) Snow Dome, ride on one of the amphibious Hägglund vehicles, or experience the 4D cinema.

In addition to those experiences, you can also visit the Penguin Rescue Centre, and if you time it right, you’ll be able to see the penguins’ daily feeding.

The International Antarctic Centre is located at 38 Orchard Road, Christchurch Airport.

Skip the line and bookt your Christchurch International Antarctic Center Entry Tickets.

6- Wander Around Hagley Park

Peacock Fountain, Hagley Park, on a sunny day
Relaxing in Hagley Park is one of the things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand. Pictured here is the Peacock Fountain.

Hagley Park is over 160 hectares (395 acres), spread throughout Christchurch.

This wonderful green space is one of the reasons Christchurch is called The Garden City, and Hagley Park is a fantastic place to get lost wandering around.

When Hagley Park opened in 1855, it was reserved by the government as a public park to be developed and enjoyed. 

Since then, it’s been home to horse racing, international tennis tournaments, and open-air festivals.

Hagley Park is a great spot to take in some fresh air or stop for a picnic lunch.

Hagley Park can be accessed from various parts of Christchurch, including 14 Riccarton Avenue, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch 8011, New Zealand.

7- Have Fun At The Margaret Mahy Family Playground

Margaret Mahy Playground In Christchurch
One of the fun things to do in Christchurch with kids is to go to the Margaret Mahy Playground.

Margaret Mahy is one of New Zealand’s most loved children’s authors, and she’s known for her playful, often mischievous books.

This spirit has been captured in the Margaret Mahy Family Playground, a must-visit spot for young and old alike.

This playground features towers, slides, nets, flying foxes, and many more activities to enjoy yourself on.

It’s been designed with all ages in mind, so it’s not just children who will have fun here.

If the 8m tower sounds too tall for you, then you can grab a coffee from one of the nearby cafes and relax on the edge.

The Margaret Mahy Family Playground is at Armagh Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch 8013.

8- Visit The Cardboard Cathedral

Cardboard Cathedral Christchurch
Seeing the Cardboard Cathedral is one of the unique things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Before the earthquakes damaged it, the Christchurch Cathedral was one of the city’s main attractions.

When it was closed because of structural damage, the City commissioned a new building to take its place, and the Cardboard Cathedral was born.

Made out of cardboard, timber, and steel, this A-Frame building is an impressive piece of architecture, and it’s currently used for services, conferences, and events.

From the altar, it stretches 29m (69ft) high and has classic stained glass windows on display too.

The Cardboard Cathedral is at 234 Hereford Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch 8011.

9- Go Punting On The Avon River

Punting On The Avon River boat about to go under a bridge
Punting on the Avon River is one of the most popular things to do in Christchurch NZ.

To see Christchurch from a different angle, take to the waters of the Avon River.

This river runs right through Christchurch, twisting and turning through different suburbs.

So, what better way to enjoy it than to get on a flat-bottomed boat and glide through the city?

This is fun for all ages, and you can start from two different locations.

If you set off from Antigua Boatsheds, you’ll travel through the Botanic Gardens and see some of Christchurch’s plants up close.

If you pick the Worcester Bridge route, you’ll see more urban areas and end at the Town Hall by Victoria Square.

The Antigua Boatshed Punting trip starts at 2 Cambridge Terrace, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch 8013.

Top tour: Christchurch Gondola and Punt on the Avon River.

New Christchurch Art Gallery In New Zealand
Visiting the Christchurch Art Gallery is one of the top things to do in Christchurch.

For something more cultured, visiting the Christchurch Art Gallery is a great way to spend your day.

This modern gallery features a wide range of exhibitions from both international and national artists.

As well as the art pieces housed indoors, there are also sculptures and art installations outside the building, including the bright and colourful “Everything is going to be alright” piece by Martin Creed, which you really can’t miss.

The Christchurch Art Gallery is at 312 Montreal Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch 8013.

11- Watch The Boats On Lyttleton Harbour

Lyttleton Harbour is located just north-east of Christchurch City, and you can look out across it from the Port Hills or Godley’s Head.

However, take a drive out the harbour to get a closer look.

This area sees many cargo ships come in daily, and the massive boats can be spotted from a long way out.

This is the perfect spot for a day trip because it’s only a 20-minute drive from the city centre.

Here, you can take a harbour cruise, paddle in the waters, or find a cafe to sit and watch the boats coming and going.

Lyttleton was also a historically significant settlement in the development of Christchurch, so wander around and view some of the information signs here to learn more.

12- Catch A Play At The Court Theatre

Whether you’ve got an evening to spare or plan to catch a matinee, there’s always something on at the Court Theatre in Christchurch.

The company started in 1971 and is New Zealand’s largest theatre company.

As well as the shows at the Addington premise, the Court Theatre also travel to New Zealand regularly, and every Friday night, you can catch the improv comedy show Scared Scriptless, which is sure to have you rolling with laughter.

The Court Theatre is at 36 Clarence Street South, Addington, Christchurch 8024.

13- Walk Through The Travis Wetland Nature Heritage Park

Christchurch has incredibly diverse landscapes, including the urban centre, the beaches, and the hills.

The Travis Wetland Nature Heritage Park showcases yet another incredible part of this city, and it’s one of few wetland areas in New Zealand to be located in an urbanised zone.

The wetlands here cover more than 50 hectares (123 acres), and you can stroll along the boardwalks and take in some of the area’s history.

The Travis Wetlands have been culturally significant to Maori and Europeans alike and continue to be important for protecting plant and bird life in the area.

This area is free to visit, and the flat, well-maintained paths are accessible to almost everyone.

The Travis Wetland Nature Heritage Park is at 280 Beach Road, Burwood, Christchurch 8083.

14- Explore The Christchurch Farmers’ Market

Elderly Person Buying Box Filled
Shopping in a farmer’s market is one of the top things to do in Christchurch this weekend.

Whether you enjoy fresh produce, good coffee, or simply getting out to support local artisans, visiting the Christchurch Farmers’ Market is a great way to spend a Saturday morning.

This market is open from 9 am to 1 pm on the grounds of Riccarton House.

Here you’ll find a wide range of products to take home and some treats to fill your belly as you wander around.

We recommend bringing a reusable coffee cup and perhaps a reusable bag, too, as we don’t think you’ll be able to resist.

The Christchurch Farmers’ Market is at 16 Kahu Road, Fendalton, Christchurch 8041.

15- Travel Back In Time At The Ferrymead Heritage Park

For a taste of New Zealand, as it was in the early 1900s, you can’t miss visiting the Ferrymead Heritage Park.

Ferrymead was an important town for the development of Christchurch in the late 1800s, owing to the train line opened in 1863, the first train in New Zealand.

Here you’ll find an old township with cottages, a church, a schoolhouse, and a tram line.

These carefully restored buildings will take you back in time as you experience what life here was like more than 100 years ago.

The Ferrymead Heritage Park is at 50 Ferrymead Park Drive, Ferrymead, Christchurch 8022.

16- Soak Up Some Science At Rutherford’s Den

For a uniquely Christchurch experience, get ready to learn some science from the home of one of the world’s greatest minds.

Ernest Rutherford is one of the most influential New Zealander scientists, also recognised worldwide as a Nobel Prize winner.

He studied at Christchurch College (now called The University of Canterbury), and stayed on campus in student accommodation there.

The buildings he stayed in have been preserved and are now home to an interactive science museum showcasing Ernest Rutherford and his discoveries’ impact on the world.

Rutherford’s Den is free to visit, and it’s fascinating to wander through his rooms and learn about his life.

Rutherford’s Den is located in Christchurch Central City, Christchurch 8013.

17- Have Fish And Chips On Sumner Beach

Sumner Beach is just a 20-minute drive from the centre of Christchurch City, and it’s part of the suburb of Sumner.

This area is a popular surfing and swimming spot for locals, and it’s one of the best places in Christchurch to enjoy a day at the beach and some classic New Zealand ‘Fish and Chips’.

With a golden sand beach and clear blue waters, Sumner Beach is one of many beautiful beaches New Zealand offers.

If you’re visiting in summer, this is the perfect place to relax for a day, and don’t forget to pack your swimsuit.

18- Ride Around The City On The Tram

Christchurch tran with sign that reads eat, stay, shop, experience.
Riding a tram is one of the things to do in Christchurch to get a flavour of the city.

The tram network in Christchurch began operating in 1882 and was discontinued in the mid-1900s, but the trams reopened in 1995 as a tourist attraction.

This is one of the best ways to combine travel around Christchurch with a history lesson.

A ride on the city trams is the perfect way to get your bearings and visit several main attractions in one go.

You can hop on the tram at many places or get more information at 109 Worcester Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch 8011.

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19- Visit The New Brighton Pier

Christchurch’s New Brighton Pier is the longest in Australasia, stretching 300m (980 feet) out into the Pacific Ocean.

The original pier opened in 1894 and featured carnival rides and even a nightclub, but the current pier is a much more subdued creation.

Despite the lack of amusement rides, the New Brighton Pier is still worth visiting as the views of the ocean from here are stunning.

This pier is considered Christchurch’s icon and is well-celebrated and enjoyed by locals.

Plus, if you’re lucky enough to visit in November, you might even catch the annual fireworks display here.

The New Brighton Pier is at 09 Worcester Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch 8011.

20- Watch a Crusaders Rugby Game

There’s no experience more classically New Zealand than heading along to a rugby game to cheer for your favourite team.

The Crusaders are the Canterbury professional team, and you’re sure to spot their fans walking around town in the team’s signature red and black colours.

The Crusaders play at different stadiums around New Zealand, but as they’re based in Christchurch, they’re often seen playing at the local Orangetheory Stadium.

If you can, grab a ticket to one of their matches, and head along to cheer with the locals.

Orangetheory Stadium is at 95 Jack Hinton Drive, Addington, Christchurch 8024.

River Avon Views In Christchurch with ducks by the river bank and a bridge
Relaxing on the banks of the River Avon is one of the best things to do in Christchurch.

21- Visit A Wildlife Park

If you’re travelling with kids, visit these wildlife parks and reserves in Christchurch:

For more things to do in New Zealand, read:

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Sarah Hyde was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand. Now based in Innsbruck, Austria, she is getting out to experience Europe every chance she gets. When Sarah was in high school she spent a year living in Toronto, Canada, and hasn't stopped travelling since. She has explored India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, and spent several months of 2020 in Covid lockdown in the village of Sidi Kaouki, Morocco. After hiking Te Araroa, New Zealand, in 2022 she developed a love for solo-hiking and thinks it's one of the best ways to really get to know a new country! Since then, she has gone on to hike Rota Vicentina in Portugal, and Haute Route from Switzerland to France, two incredible adventures. When she's not travelling, you’ll find her writing or reading. Sarah has a Bachelor of Communication Studies from the University of Waikato in New Zealand, as well as a law degree.