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Day trips

11 favourite public parks and gardens to visit in Christchurch

  • 4 minutes

Canterbury, South Island

Discover New Zealand’s garden city natural attractions. Garden buffs , veterans of nature and cultivated displays will not be disappointed in Christchurch’s offerings. Displays of nineteenth century roses compete with Art Deco elegance and the ubiquitous marigold vie attention. Combined with Christchurch top short outdoor escapes – Best Bits and hidden Christchurch top picnic spots – Best Bits you have the beginnings of an outdoors holiday. A few days exploring Christchurch’s gardens and Christchurch’s top short walks will be a balm for the soul.

Best time to visit

Year round with autumn foliage, spring blooms and the heady scent of roses in summer offering visitors pleasure throughout the year.


  1. Hagley Park (Christchurch City Council public park)

Hagley Park is the doyenne of gardens with floral rooms galore showcasing roses, exotic plantings to a native area where local specialities are carefully labelled for visitors. The caterpillar garden tour is a delight with commentary giving visitors an overview of all areas of the extensive space that is Hagley Park and Botanical Gardens. Justifiably the heart of the city, adjacent to the Arts Centre and Canterbury Museum the gardens are a pleasure for visitors and locals alike. For exercise nearby are walks from the Millbrook Reserve track and Hagley Park walk. With over 400 acres it is a garden for all tastes. And at its borders, meandering through is the quintessential Avon River is the icing on the cake that is this homage to the spirit of public gardens. Punting the Avon, through the gardens, is the perfect antidote to everyday stress.

Cherry blossom at Hagely Park Christchurch, NZ
Cherry blossom at Hagely Park Christchurch, NZ
  • Walk among the daffodils in spring in the South Hagley Park
  • Cherry blossom in spring with petals carpeting the grass is a great selfie moment and a caterpillar garden mover tour stop
  • Little Hagley Park is carpeted with English bluebells bloom every September
  • Admire mature trees over 200 years old flourishing in the park
  • Rose loves will not be disappointed with the heritage rose garden and modern hybrids having their own dedicated corners. Visitors can purchase from the park garden centre floriferous salmon-pink Hybrid Tea ‘City of Christchurch’. Riccarton Bush
  1. Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Christchurch Botanic Gardens top sights:

  • Amazing swaths of daffodils drifting through the grass with bursts of cherry blossom heralding spring
  • Summer blooms with an extensive rose collection and native bushes encouraging tui (native birds) to forage
  • Mature deciduous trees create autumn displays with the grounds carpeted in burnt orange and faded summer glory
  • Winter enjoy time in toasty warm conservatories
  • Caterpillar Garden Tours is a year round delight and it’s free. Enjoy slowly touring the gardens wrapped in a complimentary rug listening to a garden guide describing the seasonal happenings
  • Enjoy a day with a seamless melding from the Avon River punting visitors through the gardens to Hagley Park. Christchurch has a garden and park at its heart complete with the picturesque Avon River
  • Enjoy a day exploring Christchurch’s natural spaces with time for delicious foodie treats

The Christchurch Botanic Gardens are a veteran in New Zealand public gardens (established 1863). The 75 acres host an extensive collection of exotic and indigenous plants.

Rose Garden arches at the Botanical Gardens in Chrictchurch, New Zealand
Rose Garden arches at the Botanical Gardens in Chrictchurch, New Zealand
  1. Mona Vale Gardens

A visual feast of classic garden design principles Mona Vale Gardens is on the #nzgardensmustvisit list. Together with Christchurch Botanic Gardens, Riccarton House & Bush visitors have three nationally significant gardens to linger while on holiday in Christchurch.

Mona Vale, Christchurch, NZ
Mona Vale, Christchurch, NZ

Mona vale christchurch top sights

  • Gardens with their superb displays of colour, form and design
  • Woodlands with shady walks
  • Cafe overlooking gardens
  • Avon River wending its way past Mona Vale
  • The stunning art and crafts heritage buildings nestled within Mona Vale

Is the Avon River, Christchurch a garden space?

The Avon River, Christchurch is an integral part of the gardenscape of Christchurch, South Island. Its picturesque banks grace three major gardens and parks, Botanic Gardens, Hagley Park and Mona Vale. Avon River is part of the foodie scene of Riverside Markets. It’s more than a river, it’s the flowing heart of Christchurch.

  1. Riccarton Bush

Riccarton Bush is a superb example of a vanished natural world of Canterbury’s Kahikatea floodplain forest.

For lovers of native landscapes it is an immense pleasure to walk under the mature trees imaging a place where Kahikatea trees dominate.  Some of the remaining trees are over 600 years and survivors of a forest that has been carved from a series of flooding cycles some 3000 years ago. The area is also known for its historic homestead, Riccarton House, which is the venue of choice for the weekly Christchurch Farmers’ Market.  For avid market shoppers and gardeners alike a perfect time to visit is market time where newly acquired foodie treats can be enjoyed in the forest quietness.

Riccarton House is an historical Christchurch landmark building, Canterbury, NZ
Riccarton House is an historical Christchurch landmark building, Canterbury, NZ
  1. Edmonds Factory Garden (Christchurch City Council public park)

For lovers of Emonds baking powder Victorian sponge cake this is a must go destination. A classic 1920’s garden was featured for years on the Edmonds cookbook cover. The famous brand of baking powder is forever associated with the heritage garden reminding visitors of a style of garden where marigolds are a staple plant.

Edmonds Factory Garden entrance, Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand
Edmonds Factory Garden entrance, Christchurch, Canterbury

There are permanent plantings of shrubs, dwarf conifers and pebble paths. The history of the site is described on the various information plaques throughout the former industrial site. There are public toilets, seating and car parking. The gardens are open to the public. There is no admission fee.  NOTE: Nearby is Edmonds Park with playground and picnic areas.  Dogs are allowed however they must be leashed.

Edmonds Factory Garden is located in the slightly gritty industrial suburb of Waltham is nearby Brighton beach with its playgrounds  and pier. Close by is Ferrymead Heritage Park for fans of all things that tick and move. And need more holiday inspiration what to do with the kids, check out Christchurch holiday inspiration for families.

  1. Abberley Park (Christchurch City Council public park)

Originally a private garden with mature trees dating back to 1860’s making a shaded cool destination in summer. The nineteenth century style is evident in the plantings, especially the fountains and water features.

The meandering streams and paths are not fenced meaning children must be supervised. The scented garden is specially designed for visually impaired making it a special place. For families with kids the paddling pool, playground and shaded areas encourage locals and visitors to plan for a picnic.

The area is a public park open every day. Dogs are allowed on a leash.

@Friends of Abberley Park
@Friends of Abberley Park
  1. Millbrook Reserve (Christchurch City Council public park)

Nothing like an architect leaving a legacy to the city he loved. Heathcote Helmore estate does not disappoint. The beautifully landscaped garden is home some of the tallest trees in Christchurch, a cedar and eucalyptus. The native bush walk invites visitors to walk its paths. In spring the garden is a blaze of azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias.

@Avebury House
@Avebury House
  1. Avebury Park (Christchurch City Council public park)

The Christchurch public gardens are part of a majestic homestead now a venue available for public hire. Avebury Park is an English-style garden with an expansive lawn and broadleaf trees. There’s also a children’s playground, paddling pool and seating area.

  1. Woodham Park (Christchurch City Council public park)

Another heritage garden with English style parklike grounds. The extensive collection of mature trees provides summer shade with a glorious autumn foliage display. Oaks, Trembling poplar, Chinese wingnut and slippery elm are worthwhile to find due to the size and splendour. The herbaceous borders, laurel and yew hedges are excellent examples of English planting. The park is home to an aviary with Ring-necked doves, Java sparrows and Parakeet giving families a chance to interact with exotic birds. The playground and summer paddling pool are local favourites.

  1. Halswell Quarry Park (Christchurch City Council public park)

A picturesque reserve created from a reimaged quarry is the gateway to popular walking trails. Kennedy Bush track, the Cashmere Hills loop and Findlays walk will inspire visitors to lace up their shoes. Halswell Quarry is home to Christchurch sister city botanic collections making it a cosmopolitan garden where the narrative is about gardens and flowers being the ambassadors for diplomatic relations. As a public park the gardens are open every day. Dogs are allowed on a leash however prohibited from entering the wetland conservation area. There are public toilets, picnic areas and carparks. The park is a firm favourite with locals due to the variety of activities supported by the park.

Halswell Quarry Park Japanese section Christchurch, New Zealand
Halswell Quarry Park, Japanese section, Christchurch
  1. Frensham Gardens (private garden)

Glorious private garden with year round interest from sculptural corners where topiary dictates the style to sweeping lawns and herbaceous borders. Woodland paths encourage visitors to linger and look closely at peeping bulbs bursting in the spring warmth. The garden is a favourite with wedding parties for the variety of urban landscapes on view.

  • Open by appointment only
  • Admission fees apply

Want a bite to eat while at Hagley Park Christchurch?

  • Christchurch Botanic Gardens cafes
  • Mona Vale cafe is located in the Christchurch city suburb of Fendalton
  • Arts Centre on Hereford St is home to delicious food trucks, ice creams and cafes
  • Riverside Markets with its array of foodie treat is 2.2 km walking distance

Walk, enjoy delectable eats, perhaps punt on the Avon River.


Learn more


Still not sure where to eat while on holiday in Christchurch, check out fascinating places in Christchurch eat and drink in style, 5 heritage places, great views – Best Bits.

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