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Day trips

Christchurch holiday inspiration for families

  • 4 minutes

Canterbury, South Island

Where to go with the kids

Kids start your Christchurch holiday with a staple. Ice cream for everyone while you pore over the latest brochures and pamphlets from the Visitor Information Centre, located in the historic arts centre. Then it is off on the heritage tram  circuit for a city highlights tour. Holiday ideas include favourites such as wildlife, the exciting drama stories at the Antarctic Centre to being swept Mt Cavendish, Port Hills on a gondola.

Christchurch Art Centre, New Zealand
Christchurch Art Centre, New Zealand

Christchurch Arts Centre – shops, ice cream & treats

Visitor Information Centre and an ice cream to get the holiday vibe going…

Ice cream is a holiday staple. The Visitor Centre, housed in the Arts Centre is home to several gift shop, cafes and waffle cone goodness. Visitors catch up with the latest happenings in Christchurch.

Christchurch heritage tram circuit

The Vintage Tram circuit is a must do activity. The 2.5km route covers city highlights from an Art Deco New Regent street to the Christchurch Art Gallery.   Seventeen stops and seventeen choices combined with a ticket for the Port Hills gondola several days of activities are sorted. The train conductors emblazoned in snappy uniforms set the holiday mood with a warm welcome. It is an excellent transport option for families exploring the city centre. The chatty online commentary answers most of the questions kids will be firing in your direction.

Christchurch vintage tram, Canterbury, New Zealand
Christchurch vintage tram, Canterbury
Christchurch Gondola view

Christchurch gondola

A perfect selfie location with the Canterbury Plains, Christchurch and the Southern Alps creating a panoramic view of the surrounding district.  There is standard cafe fare available at the summit. For visitors with transport there is the drive over the Port Hills to Lyttleton offering the same spectacular views.

Christchurch Ferrymead Historic Park what to do with the kids

Nearby the Christchurch Gondola, in Heathcote is the FerryMead Historic Park. In summer the place is buzzing with vintage tram rides, heritage shops open and pop up entertainment. Ferrymead Historic Park, is an ethnographic museum, restored buildings and vintage trains and other forms of transport. In 1863, the first railway in New Zealand was opened, running from Ferrymead into central Christchurch … read more about FerryMead Historic Park.

Ferrymead heritage park, Christchurch, New Zealand
Ferrymead heritage park, Christchurch, New Zealand

Akaroa is picturesque and swimming with dolphins a summer favourite activity. The drive from Christchurch to Akaroa is approximately 85 km however the winding, hilly road creates a journey of 1 ½ hours one way. A well known road trip for kids to get an upset tummy, carsick.

Christchurch Art Gallery, Christchurch, New Zealand
Christchurch Art Gallery

Christchurch Art Gallery what to do with kids

Christchurch Art Gallery. A promise of morning tea and an information sheet will encourage younger visitors to engage with the artworks. The Christchurch Art Gallery is a soaring light filled gallery with a child focused interactive information sheet for children to complete. The gallery is adjucent to the cafe with a wide selection of classic New Zealand fare such as sausage rolls and fresh juices.

Christchurch Quake City exhibition

Imagative displays and interaction engage both young and old audiences. The personal stories of how people were affected by the recent Canterbury earthquake will resonate with children. The science of earthquakes is introduced together with tips on how to protect yourself in a future event.

Christchurch Cathedral earthquake damage, Christchurch, New Zealand
Christchurch Cathedral earthquake damage
Christchurch International Antarctic Centre, NZ
Christchurch International Antarctic Centre, NZ

Christchurch International Antarctic Centre

Handy location next to the airport can make for a thrilling introduction to the city.  While definitely catering for the kids in all of us the Antarctic Centre provides a detailed understanding of the importance of one of Aotearoa’s nearest neighbours, the Antarctic. Kids will thoroughly enjoy the experience of a blizzard and the sense of isolation that extreme cold creates. A place of imagination, play and learning makes for a great educational experience that is not dull at all.

New Brighton, Christchurch what to do with the kids?

You’ve road tested the award winning Margaret Mahy central playground and given Margaret Mahy’s playground the tick. Discover New Brighton playground with its classic whale and seaside vibe. The beach is nearby as well as interesting walks for the outdoors kids, from the Travis Wetlands to sandshore spit.

Brighton Beach in mid summer, Christchurch, New Zealand
Brighton Beach in mid summer, Christchurch, New Zealand

Christchurch activities for kids – wildlife encounters

Capuchin monkey in the Orana Wildlife park in Christchurch, New Zealand
Capuchin monkey in the Orana Wildlife park in Christchurch

Orana Wildlife Park

Set on 80 hectares of park-like grounds, Orana Wildlife Park is New Zealand’s only open range zoo. The Park has been developed as an open range sanctuary for endangered animals, providing them with enclosures as close to their natural habitat as possible. Streams, moats and banks are used as barriers to allow visitors the opportunity to see the animals in a natural manner. Over 400 animals from 70 different species are displayed and there are various daily encounters allowing up close experiences with the animals.

Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

Willowbank Wildlife Reserve encourages understanding of the kiwi with no glass between the kiwi and the public.

Kiwi Breeding:

  • Part of Operation Nest Egg
  • Willowbank incubates eggs for up to 4 species of kiwi – Ōkarito Rowi, Haast Tokoeka, Great Spotted and North Island Brown
  • Record of 100 eggs incubated in one season and over 600 kiwi re-released to the wild to date

The farmyard section invites children to interact with animals.

Qualmark gold standard NZ tourism venture for families.

Takahe standing in a shallow pool at the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch, New Zealand
Takahe standing in a shallow pool at the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch

Your Christchurch exploration for outdoors kids

For rainy days with the kids in Christchurch


Riverside Market is conveniently located next to Avon River (kayaking/punting) and in the vicinity of the Christchurch Art Gallery, Christchurch Arts Centre and on the Christchurch Heritage Tram circuit.

For more ideas check out:

Check out Christchurch things to do for free – Best Bits with the Botanic Gardens and Avon River walks top billing.


Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.


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