20 Things to do in Christchurch

Christchurch is a great tourist destination for many reasons. Its natural beauty, with stunning landscapes including the Southern Alps and the Port Hills, offers visitors many outdoor activities. The city’s rich cultural heritage, vibrant art scene, and thriving food and drink culture provide a unique and immersive experience for tourists. Christchurch is also a hub for adventure activities, making it a great destination for adrenaline seekers. Furthermore, the city’s commitment to sustainable tourism initiatives means that visitors can feel good about supporting a responsible and eco-friendly destination. Overall, Christchurch offers something for everyone, making it a great place to visit. 

Here are 20 fun for all things to do in Christchurch:

1. Visit the Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Christchurch Botanic Gardens is a beautiful 21-hectare park located in the heart of the city. Established in 1863, the gardens are home to an extensive collection of plants from around the world, including a large variety of New Zealand native species. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll through the rose garden, explore the conservatories, and admire the stunning seasonal displays. The gardens also offer a range of activities, such as guided tours, children’s playgrounds, and a caterpillar ride. With its peaceful ambiance and breathtaking views, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens are a must-see destination for anyone visiting the city.

2. Take a ride on the Christchurch Gondola for panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountains

The Christchurch Gondola is a popular tourist attraction that offers stunning panoramic views of the city and the surrounding landscapes. The gondola takes visitors on a 10-minute ride to the top of the Port Hills, where they can take in the breathtaking views of the Southern Alps, the Canterbury Plains, and the city. At the top, visitors can explore the observation deck, take a walk on the many trails, enjoy a coffee at the café, or experience the thrill of the mountain bike park. The Christchurch Gondola is a must-do activity for anyone visiting the city, offering an unforgettable experience and an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the area.

3. Explore the Canterbury Museum and learn about the region’s history
The Canterbury Museum is a fascinating museum located in the heart of Christchurch. Established in 1867, the museum is dedicated to showcasing the rich history and culture of the Canterbury region. Visitors can explore the many galleries, which include exhibits on natural history, Maori culture, Antarctic exploration, and the history of Christchurch. Highlights of the museum include the world’s largest collection of moa bones, a reconstructed Edwardian street, and the Antarctic gallery featuring artifacts from explorers such as Sir Edmund Hillary. The museum also offers a range of events and programs, making it an excellent destination for people of all ages. The Canterbury Museum is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in the history and culture of the region.

4. Visit the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu
The Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu is a must-visit destination for art lovers in the city. Located in the heart of Christchurch, the gallery houses an impressive collection of contemporary and historical art from New Zealand and around the world. The collection includes paintings, sculptures, and multimedia installations, with exhibitions that change regularly. Visitors can take a guided tour, participate in workshops, or attend events and talks, making the gallery a lively and engaging cultural hub. With its stunning architecture and impressive collection, the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu is an essential destination for anyone interested in art and culture.

5. Take a stroll through the Re:START mall, a vibrant shopping area made from shipping containers

The Re:START mall is a unique shopping destination located in the central business district of Christchurch. It was established as a temporary shopping precinct after the 2011 earthquake damaged the city’s main shopping area. The mall is constructed from brightly colored shipping containers, which give it a distinct urban vibe. Visitors can browse through a variety of stores selling local and international brands, handmade crafts, and souvenirs. There are also many cafes and restaurants offering delicious food and drinks. The Re:START mall is a vibrant and inspiring space that symbolizes the city’s resilience and creativity in the face of adversity.

6. Go punting on the Avon River

The Avon River is a beautiful and iconic feature of Christchurch. Running through the heart of the city, the river offers visitors a peaceful and scenic retreat from the bustling urban environment. The riverbanks are lined with trees and parks, making it an ideal spot for a picnic or a relaxing walk. Visitors can take a punt ride along the river, with a guide who shares stories about the city’s history and landmarks. The Avon River is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, and a must-visit attraction for anyone seeking a tranquil and natural experience in the heart of the city.

7. Visit the International Antarctic Centre
The International Antarctic Centre is a unique and fascinating attraction located near the Christchurch airport. The centre is dedicated to showcasing the history, culture, and wildlife of Antarctica, with a range of exhibits and interactive experiences. Visitors can ride in a Hagglund all-terrain vehicle, take a virtual reality journey to the South Pole, and experience a simulated Antarctic storm. There are also penguin encounters, where visitors can meet and interact with live penguins. The centre offers a fun and educational experience for people of all ages, making it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the polar regions and their rich history and wildlife.

8. Take a day trip to Akaroa, a charming French-influenced town on the Banks Peninsula

Akaroa is a picturesque seaside town located about an hour’s drive from Christchurch. The town is set on a beautiful natural harbor and is known for its French heritage, which is evident in the charming colonial architecture and street names. Visitors can explore the town’s many galleries, cafes, and boutiques, and take in the stunning coastal views. Akaroa is also a popular destination for dolphin watching, with the chance to see the rare Hector’s dolphins up close. The town is surrounded by rolling hills and vineyards, offering opportunities for wine tasting and scenic drives. With its unique character and stunning natural beauty, Akaroa is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the Christchurch region.

9. Explore the Quake City exhibit, which showcases the impact of the 2011 earthquake on the city
Quake City is a museum located in Christchurch that tells the story of the city’s earthquakes, especially the devastating 2010 and 2011 quakes. The museum features a range of interactive displays, artifacts, and personal stories from locals who lived through the earthquakes. Visitors can experience a simulated earthquake, view the destruction caused by the quakes, and learn about the innovative rebuild and recovery efforts underway in the city. The museum provides a sobering yet inspiring look at the resilience and strength of the Christchurch community in the face of disaster, making it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the recent history of the city.

10. Visit the Christchurch Cathedral, which is currently undergoing restoration

The Christchurch Cathedral is a historic and iconic landmark located in the heart of Christchurch. The cathedral was built in the late 19th century and is an impressive example of Gothic Revival architecture. Unfortunately, the cathedral was severely damaged during the 2011 earthquake and has since been closed to the public. The future of the cathedral is currently uncertain, with discussions underway about whether to restore it or build a new structure. Nonetheless, the Christchurch Cathedral remains a symbol of the city’s history and identity and a must-see attraction for visitors to Christchurch.

11. Go skiing or snowboarding at one of the nearby ski resorts
The best ski resorts in Christchurch would depend on individual preferences and priorities. However, based on popularity and reputation, some of the best ski resorts in Christchurch are:

•    Mt Hutt Ski Area - renowned for its expansive terrain, wide groomed runs, and breathtaking views, Mt Hutt is considered one of the best ski resorts in New Zealand.
•    Treble Cone - located near Wanaka, about 4 hours drive from Christchurch, Treble Cone is a larger resort with plenty of off-piste skiing, challenging terrain, and stunning scenery.
•    Craigieburn Valley Ski Area - known for its challenging off-piste terrain, Craigieburn is a smaller, club-operated ski area that attracts advanced and expert skiers seeking a more adventurous experience.
•    Porters Ski Area - located an hour’s drive from Christchurch, Porters offers a good mix of beginner, intermediate, and advanced terrain, with a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.
•    Mt Dobson Ski Area - located about three hours drive from Christchurch, Mt Dobson is a lesser-known resort with uncrowded slopes, affordable prices, and stunning views of the Southern Alps.

12. Visit the Christchurch Farmers’ Market for fresh local produce

The Christchurch Farmers’ Market is a popular weekend destination for locals and visitors alike. Located in the heart of the city, the market showcases the best of local produce, artisanal foods, and handmade crafts. Visitors can browse the stalls and sample a range of fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses, baked goods, preserves, and more. The market is held every Saturday and is a great opportunity to meet local farmers, chefs, and artisans and learn more about the region’s food and culture. With its vibrant atmosphere and high-quality products, the Christchurch Farmers’ Market is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in food and community.

13. Explore the street art in the central city
Christchurch’s street art is a significant part of the city’s cultural and artistic landscape. Following the 2011 earthquake, street art became a way for artists and the community to reclaim public spaces and express their hopes and aspirations for the city’s future. Today, the central city is home to an impressive collection of murals, graffiti, and installations that showcase a range of styles and themes. Visitors can explore the streets and alleys of the city center and discover works by local and international artists that reflect the city’s resilience, creativity, and diversity. Whether you’re a street art enthusiast or simply looking for something colorful and inspiring, Christchurch’s street art scene is a must-see attraction.

14. Take a bike tour of the city with a local guide

Bike tours of Christchurch city are a fun and eco-friendly way to explore the city’s landmarks, history, and culture. Visitors can choose from a range of guided tours that take them to popular attractions such as the Botanic Gardens, Hagley Park, and the Avon River. Along the way, knowledgeable guides provide insights into the city’s history, architecture, and urban design, making for a rich and informative experience. Cycling through the city’s bike-friendly streets and cycleways also allows visitors to see the city from a unique perspective and take in the sights, sounds, and smells of Christchurch at their own pace. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or a casual rider, a bike tour of Christchurch is a great way to experience the city’s vibrant energy and beauty.

15. Visit the New Regent Street for its unique pastel-colored buildings

New Regent Street is a historic and charming pedestrian mall in the heart of Christchurch’s city center. The street features a distinctive Spanish Mission architectural style, with colorful pastel buildings adorned with intricate details and patterns. The street is home to a range of boutique shops, cafes, and restaurants, offering visitors a unique and memorable shopping and dining experience. Whether you’re looking for souvenirs, specialty foods, or a relaxing cup of coffee, New Regent Street is a must-visit destination in Christchurch. The street is also a popular spot for photo opportunities, with its beautiful buildings and vibrant atmosphere making for a perfect backdrop.

16. Take a hike in the Port Hills for breathtaking views of the city and coastline
The Port Hills are a stunning range of hills that overlook the city of Christchurch, providing panoramic views of the city, the Canterbury Plains, and the Southern Alps. The hills are popular with outdoor enthusiasts and offer a range of activities, including hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and paragliding. Visitors can explore the hills on well-marked trails that wind through native forests, grassy slopes, and rocky outcrops. Along the way, they can enjoy stunning vistas, encounter native wildlife, and learn about the history and culture of the area. Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or a casual nature lover, the Port Hills are a must-visit destination in Christchurch, offering a unique and unforgettable experience.

17. Visit the Sumner Beach and enjoy the surf and sand
Sumner Beach is a beautiful and popular destination located on the eastern coast of Christchurch. The beach is known for its long stretch of golden sand, stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, and excellent surf conditions, making it a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, surfing, and other water activities. The beach is also home to a range of cafes, restaurants, and boutique shops, offering visitors a range of dining and shopping options. Beyond the beach, visitors can explore the charming seaside village of Sumner, which is home to a range of historic buildings, art galleries, and other attractions. Whether you’re a beach lover, a surfer, or simply looking for a relaxing day by the sea, Sumner Beach is a must-visit destination in Christchurch.

18. Take a scenic drive to Arthur’s Pass National Park for hiking and wildlife spotting

Arthur’s Pass National Park is a stunning and rugged park located in the heart of the Southern Alps, about 150 kilometers northwest of Christchurch. The park features a range of diverse landscapes, from alpine meadows and native forests to glaciers and icy rivers, offering visitors a unique and unforgettable outdoor experience. Visitors can explore the park on a range of hiking trails that wind through the mountains, providing stunning vistas of the surrounding scenery and the chance to encounter native wildlife such as kea parrots and the rare rock wren. In winter, the park is a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding, with a range of slopes and trails suitable for all skill levels. Whether you’re a nature lover or an adventure seeker, Arthur’s Pass National Park is a must-visit destination in Christchurch, offering a breathtaking and immersive outdoor experience.

19. Visit the Ferrymead Heritage Park for a glimpse into early New Zealand life

Ferrymead Heritage Park is a living museum located in the Christchurch suburb of Ferrymead. The park features a range of restored historic buildings, exhibits, and demonstrations, providing visitors with a glimpse into the life and times of early Canterbury settlers. Visitors can explore the park on a range of vintage transportation options, including steam trains, trams, and trolleybuses, offering a unique and memorable way to experience the park. The park also features a range of interactive exhibits, including a printing press, a blacksmith’s forge, and a telegraph station, allowing visitors to experience firsthand the tools and techniques used by early settlers. Whether you’re a history buff or simply looking for a fun and educational day out, Ferrymead Heritage Park is a must-visit destination in Christchurch.

20. Attend a concert or event at the Isaac Theatre Royal, a historic theater in the city center

The Theatre Royal is a historic performing arts venue located in the heart of Christchurch. The theatre has a rich and storied history, dating back to its founding in 1876, and has played host to countless theatrical productions, concerts, and other cultural events over the years. The theatre was extensively damaged in the 2011 earthquake but has since been restored to its former glory, featuring a range of modern amenities and state-of-the-art technical capabilities while retaining its historic charm and character. Today, the Theatre Royal is one of Christchurch’s premier cultural destinations, featuring a range of performances and events that showcase the best of local and international talent. Whether you’re a theatre buff or simply looking for a memorable night out, the Theatre Royal is a must-visit destination in Christchurch.

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