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Christchurch the odd, the unusual and fascinating

  • 4 minutes


Best bits, hidden Christchurch

Delve into strange, odd or unique things in Christchurch. View a poignant 185 empty chairs memorial to the devastating 2011 earthquake. Stay in an original jail cell complete with very strong steel bars or ogle a house decorated with paua shells. Escape rooms figure large in the Christchurch entertainment scheme with the city supporting three operators’ imaginative offerings. Christchurch Port Hills is home to an underground bunker designed to hold the WWII military secrets and check out a cafe where skeletons decorate the walls. For fans of odd places Wellington is a great place to find the unusual and quirky. Check out Wellington unusual, odd or fascinating things to do.

For more odd, unusual and fascinating places to visit in New Zealand check out New Zealand attractions, things to do… and get excited about what you will find around the next corner.

185 Empty Chairs memorial @Stuff
185 Empty Chairs memorial @Stuff


A visual reminder of loss with empty chairs were originally massed together on the former site of the Oxford Terrace Baptist Church.

185 Empty Chairs. Chairs donated from victims’ families, friends and colleagues, were hand-painted white.

The memorial has been relocated next to St Paul’s Trinity Pacific Presbyterian Church.


Fred and Myrtle’s house in Bluff was an oddity with the entire structure covered with repurposed paua shells.

Over 1000 shells adorned the house with visitors flocking to the Flutey’s home to view the decorated walls.

Canterbury Museum purchased the collection and now you can pop into the Flutey’s home for a quick peek.

Fred and Myrtle's Paua Shell House @Nicola Armstrong Nicky
Fred and Myrtle's Paua Shell House @Nicola Armstrong Nicky
Addington prison @Gregory
Addington prison @Gregory


BUDGET ACCOMMODATION doesn’t get better than this atmospheric hostel.

The prison is now Jailhouse Accommodation. The gothic revival architecture (1864) is evotive of another era.

Stay the night in a cell (including the original solitary confinement room).

There are lots of slightly shabby iron bars and gates adding to the sense of lockup.


Christchurch is a hot destination for adrenaline seekers wishing to scream, be scared out of their wits and challenge the senses in an escape room. Three operators invite visitors to experience an adrenaline induced experience.   Find your way out in 1 hour with a quirky story line offering clues with Escape Artists NZ. Code Breakers in the CBD have six rooms designed as puzzles to get your sleathing cap firmly on. Code Breakers The Lost Hut in Antarctica is a firm favourite.  Ferrymead Heritage Park has a delightful way to dine and solve a mystery simultaneously. Get dressed up and The 1970’s and the  mysterious murder of Farley’s International Cirus’ fearless lion tamer.

Christchurch Escape Room, Code Breakers @codebreakers
The Lost Hut in Antarctica, Code Breakers @codebreakers

Read more Christchurch adrenaline, adventure where to go

Adrenalin Forest @adrenalinforestNZ
Adrenalin Forest @adrenalinforestNZ

The Adrenalin Forest

Challenge your physical abilities.

Based on army training courses is an epic obstacle track nestled among mature trees delivering delight to adrenaline seekers. The course has tree climbing, suspension bridge crossings, rope swinging and flying foxes high in the forest canopy.

Adrenalin Forest is suitable for children over 1.4 metres in height. Get the tape measure out and the family booked.


The chemistry for socialising is the slogan for Bunsen.

The cafe is fun, odd and definitely an amazing place to grab the holiday vibe. Skeletons adore the walls with antique medical equipment looking more like torture chamber screws.

Bunsen is located in a former clock tower (gothic revival style) and was a chemistry den in the 19th century.

Fascinating and the menu is great as well.

Bunsen cafe @BunsenLtd
Bunsen cafe @BunsenLtd
Cave Rock Sumner beach @Discoverywall
Cave Rock Sumner beach @Discoverywall


The volcanic formation is a popular playground for visitors with its slightly spooky ambiance creating a fission of excitement to a day at the beach. Maori mythology and legend portrays the cave as the carcass of a stranded whale. The whale was the victim of magic and forever trapped. The original name Tuawera means to ‘cut something down’ and is a reference to the many people who supposedly died from eating the flesh of this cursed whale. An excerpt from the Christchurch library resource, “The Story of Tuawera, Tūrakipō, a chief of Ōpawāho sought Hineao, a daughter of Te Ake of Akaroa for a wife. She spurned his advances so Tūrakipō cast a spell of death upon her. In revenge for Te Ake her father went to the hill overlooking Sumner and sent forth mighty karakia against Tūrakipō and his people. In answer to his prayers a whale was stranded on the shore which the people of Tūrakipō eagerly cut up and feasted upon. Those who ate the whale fell asleep and subsequently died.”


Project Progress | Mclean’s Mansion is stupendously magnificent. The enormous 53 room mansion was originally built as the home of Allen McLean (originally known as Holly Lea). Then the premises became a nursing home and dental nurses hostel.

The huge wooden building was the largest timber framed house in New Zealand at the time of its construction. Earthquake damage and the threat of demolition hang over the building. Friends of Mclean’s Mansion have a series of photographs outlining the sense of wonder and continuing fascination with its 19th century masterpiece.

Mclean's Mansion @mcleansmansion
Mclean's Mansion @mcleansmansion
Cashmere Caverns @Christchurch Ciry Libraries
Cashmere Caverns @Christchurch Ciry Libraries


The Port Hills have World War II underground tunnels. Designed to protect operational military activities the large chambers are now part of an electronic system monitoring earth movements. The cloak and dagger origins are occasionally open to the public. The Christchurch City Council runs tours of the military bunkers tunnelled deep into the Port Hills, but the walks are not actively promoted. Visitors follow a park ranger along a steep unmarked path to a steel door which is dramatically opened. Today the University of Canterbury has apparatus monitoring the earth’s movement. The area above the tunnels is a reserve. The Cracroft or Cashmere Cavern is located 30 m beneath the Banks Peninsula. TheCracroft Reserve offers sweeping views from a viewing platform at 200 metres. While enjoying the view, think about what is underneath.



  • Abandoned bunkers, military installations and an epic walking track are now currently closed due to asbestos

Read more in Christchurch top 5 short outdoor escapes.


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