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Best 6 short walks in Christchurch

  • 3 minutes

Canterbury, South Island

Easy, fun walks for all fitness levels

Discover Christchurch walks from Avon River loop to Quail Island shipwreck trail. Find the reimagined Halswell quarry or interesting New Brighton Estuary edge boardwalk. What to pack for a picnic lunch, check out Christchurch travel guide for markets and pop up stalls.


1.  Quarry Rim Track, Halswell

It is fascinating to visit a quarry where the land is reclaimed and reimagined as a public space. Explore the Quarry Rim Track with family and friends. You will get stunning views of the Southern Alps. There are historic tracks explaining what happened to the area and the results of reclamation. Bring your furry friend as dogs on a leash are allowed on some trails. Information panels depict the workings and historic features of the quarry and viewing platforms and seating provide ideal resting points along the route. The track descends to Findlay’s picnic area and back to the main car park. There are linkages to both Kennedys Bush Road and Kennedys Bush Track from here.

  • Length: 5.3 km
  • Duration: 1 – ½ hours

There are many exits enabling visitors to shorten the distance walked. For details check Halswell Quarry walks and tracks


Discover a shared pathway following the Avon River as it wanders through central Christchurch. The trail is a discovery route of the impact of a significant earthquake on a city. The transitional shared walking and biking track along the Avon/Ōtākaro River explores the ‘red zone’ areas of the city where wholesale demolition of homes occurred due to earthquake damage. It is fascinating seeing nature reclaim streets and areas where suburban houses once stood. The track is a mix of shingle, sealed and closed roads unrepaired since the earthquakes, which have been used to create a trail from the city centre out to New Brighton. There are information plaques throughout the trail explaining the past.

  • Length: 11 km (this trail can be walked / cycled in sections)
Beautiful color of Autumn at Avon River in Christchurch New Zealand
Beautiful color of Autumn at Avon River in Christchurch

Although most of the trail is on closed roads, there is one small section between Gloucester and Torlesse Streets that is on an open road. There are also a number of occasions that require pedestrians and cyclists to crossroads. Where possible, recommended crossings are marked but care should be taken at all times.

Check the travel pack section for the AVON RIVER WALK BROCHURE.

Avon River Kayaking @Christchurchseakayaking
Avon River Kayaking @Christchurchseakayaking

The gorgeous River Avon encapsulates the essence of Christchurch charms. Punting on the river is a must go experience yet many visitors are unaware that the city has thoughtfully designed kayaking ramps to access the river. From walking trails to floating on the river there is not a better way to explore the city than from the Avon River.

  • Antigua boatshed hire kayaks for a convenient city escape
  • Join a kayaking tour sea kayaking down the Avon River, from the city centre through earthquake abandoned suburbs to the Bexley Wetlands. For details check City to Estuary tours

Ōtamahua/Quail Island is a small, inner harbour island that can be reached by ferry from Lyttelton. There is something exciting about catching a ferry and sailing across the Lyttelton Harbour to an island. Pest free Quail Island has a varied history from a pandemic quarantine station to ship wrecks.

Within 5 – 10 minutes visitors can be throwing the picnic rug down at a sheltered beach. The gently sloping beach is safe for swimming. Fossick at low tide among the rocks or beachcomb for shells. There are information plaques describing the story of the Barracks buildings. For visitors after more adventures there are shipwrecks to find and a bird watching hide for birding fans.

Maori called the island Ōtamahua, the ‘place to gather sea-bird eggs’. Bird life must have been important, for Captain William Mein Smith named it after the now-extinct native quail.

The rusting hulk of a shipwreck, the Darra, lies on the coast of Quail Island, New Zealand
The rusting hulk of a shipwreck, the Darra, lies on the coast of Quail Island


Quail Island From 1881 livestock were quarantined, including the dogs and ponies used by Antarctic explorers. Between 1901 and 1929 the Shackleton, Scott and Byrd expeditions all used Quail Island.


Depending on the state of the tide, you may make out the decaying remains of eight vessels: the Queen, Mullogh, Lyttelton, La Plata, Waiwera, Frank Guy, Darra and Belle Isle. Most prominent are the early iron steamer Mullogh (1859), right up on the beach; the long frames of the former tea clipper and migrant ship Darra (1865), beached parallel to the shore; and the Frank Guy, a bit further out.

Source Quail Island NZHISTORY


Black Cat Cruises runs scheduled sailings (no bookings required) seven days a week from October until February.

Ōtamahua/Quail Island Recreation Reserve: Places to visit in Canterbury

Avon River, rain and light, Canterbury, South Island, New Zealand
Avon River, rain and light

Delve into the life of an estuary and wander along a boardwalk, through salt marshes and past a pine forest on the Estuary Edge Walk. Beginning on the boardwalk, the track leads you through a picturesque seaside landscape, complemented by wetlands and the distant mountains. Once off the boardwalk the track leads through pine forest and past South Brighton Park before continuing along the edge of the Avon estuary. The boardwalk takes you over the salt marshes where wetland birds can be spotted and lovely views of the mountains and water surround.

The changing landscape is guaranteed to please families, dog owners and adventurers of all ages.

  • Length: 2km
  • Grade: Flat easy short walk



Stunning views without the heavy lifting of strenuous hill climb. The walk has a touch of history with World War II gun emplacements and abandoned bunkers. To reach the historic sites is a short uphill climb however it is worth the effort for the stupendous views and the air of desolation of an abandoned military site. The site is brought to light with the evocative murals by Wongi Wilson.The gun emplacements have interpretative graffiti which celebrates the role of the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corp in running the place during WWII. It also has a lighted underground magazine to explore, as well as interpretation panels telling the history of the site.

Breeze Bay section of the Awaroa, Godley Head Loop Track. Godley Head, Canterbury, New Zealand
Awaroa, Godley Head Loop Track

From here the Godley Head Gun Emplacements Track carries on around the nose of the headland, past the historic military buildings. This area includes the Battery Observation posts located at the entrance to Lyttelton Harbour. It ends at the public carpark at Godley Head. There are toilets here.

Godley Heads is part of kiwi guardians programme for kids. Check the travel pack section for details.


The track could be closed due to the asbestos. Check DOC for up to date information. Awaroa/Godley Head Loop Track: Walking and tramping in Godley Head, Canterbury region


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