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Day trips

Christchurch holiday inspiration for families

  • 3 minutes

Canterbury, South Island

Where to go and what to do for families

Start the day 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 vintage tram circuit for a city highlights tour. Holiday ideas include favourites such as wildlife, the exciting drama of the Antarctic Centre to a sweeping gondola up the side of the Port Hills. Remember to check the travel guide for further ideas about where to go and what to see in Christchurch.

Little Hagley Park watch Saturday competitive yacht racing, Christchurch, New Zealand
Little Hagley Park watch Saturday competitive yacht racing, Christchurch


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

Ice cream is a holiday staple with the visitor information Centre answering this need. A gift shop, tea and coffee and waffle cone goodness are packaged in the historic Arts Precinct as the first port of call for visitors wanting to catch up with the latest happenings in Christchurch. The Information Centre is a vintage tram stop as well as a fund of useful information about the latest cafes, shops and restaurants open for business. The ‘i’ Site can provide street maps to street art installations, pop up exhibitions as well as commercial galleries. You can book theatre tickets, day trips out of town or simply find out when the museum closes.


The Vintage Tram circuit is a must do activity. The 2.5km route covers city highlights from an Art Deco street to the Art Gallery. Seventeen stops and seventeen choices combined with a ticket for a caterpillar garden tour and 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. While you can purchase tickets from the Visitor Information Centre you can also buy directly from the conductors. 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, New Zealand
Christchurch Gondola view


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.


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 Art Gallery, Christchurch, New Zealand
Christchurch Art Gallery
Christchurch Cathedral earthquake damage, Christchurch, New Zealand
Christchurch Cathedral earthquake damage


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.


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.

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

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 interaction 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
Feeding a horse, Willowbank Reserve farm, New Zealand Feeding a horse, Willowbank Reserve farm
@International Antarctic Centre
@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.


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