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Travel Guide

Things to do in Christchurch places to visit, attractions, activities & heritage

  • 6 minutes

Canterbury, South Island

In this Article

Holidays start here … the backyard is where fun happens

In this Article

Experiences, things to do in Christchurch

Christchurch is New Zealand’s biggest city on the South Island, where holidays start with an array of activities from slow lane travel to adventures where you set the challenges.

Top 9 must do attractions

Christchurch Tramway, New Zealand
Christchurch Tramway
  1. Vintage tram hop on hop off

Start with a hot favourite, the vintage Tram – Interactive Tour of Christchurch. The tram is a must do activity. The 2.5km route encompasses city highlights. With eighteen stops there is access to most main attractions. The train stops adjacent to the Visitor Information Centre, recently relocated to the refurbished historic Arts Centre precinct. The ‘i’ Site can provide guides to street art installations, pop-up exhibitions as well as commercial galleries. Consider purchasing a combined ticket for a caterpillar garden tour and/or the Christchurch gondola as well as the tram ride. Tickets can be directly purchased from the tram conductor or the Visitor Information Centre.




Definitely a transport option for families.

  1. International Antarctic Centre

Out of town by the airport, the International Antarctic Centre blends high-tech attractions with real-world experiences to create one of the top Christchurch attractions. The International Antarctic Centre is the world’s premier Antarctic visitor experience. The Centre actively encourages child participation with a chance to experience the actual below freezing temperatures of the frozen continent.

Here you can ride in Hagglund Antarctic vehicles, meet the resident rescue penguins, experience an ice voyage in 4D, step onto the ice for an arctic storm and browse displays to learn about the history of Antarctic exploration and Christchurch’s ongoing role as one of a few global gateway cities to Antarctica.

Blue penguin watching is one of those must-do things! Each day at 10:30am and 3pm, it’s feeding time. Choose to watch the feeding from the outdoor viewing area or downstairs in the pool auditorium.



International Antarctic centre, New Zealand
Christchurch International Antarctic Centre, NZ
Christchurch Botanic Gardens, New Zealand
Christchurch Botanic Gardens
  1. Botanic garden

Uncover one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s premier public gardens with its extensive gardens showcasing the best of New Zealand’s planting tradition. The garden is enhanced with the Avon River flowing alongside.

From the spring drifts of daffodils, spectacular summer roses, stunning autumn leaf displays and cosy conservatories to explore over winter, there’s something to delight in every season.


Hop aboard the Garden caterpillar tour, it’s free and lots of fun. In winter you are supplied with a cosy rug keeping you toasty warm.

Christchurch Casino

Christchurch Casino – one of New Zealand’s most legendary casinos – is in the heart of the garden city. It features 32 table games, 450+ slot machines, and three great restaurants and bars.

We are located in the city centre, a one-stop destination for entertainment. Whether you are looking for a dining experience, gaming, live music, live sports on the big screens, or tasty cocktails at our new bar Skylark – there is something for everyone.

Read more
@Christchurch Casino
@Christchurch Casino
@Christchurch Casino
  1. Christchurch Arts Centre & Shops

A perfect location for a crafty exploration of what the city has to offer with the tram stop, the adjacent Botanic Garden, and the Canterbury Museum. The heritage buildings now house a variety of specialty art and craft stores together with a well-resourced visitor centre.

Christchurch Arts Centre, view of Clock Tower and Rutherford's Den, New Zealand
Christchurch Arts Centre, view of Clock Tower and Rutherford's Den, New Zealand
Punting in the rain, River Avon, Christchurch, New Zealand
Punting in the rain, River Avon
  1. Punting on Avon River

Punting – Iconic Avon River Tour.  Experience life the way it should be – relaxed, tranquil and thoroughly enjoyable! Sink back into the velvet cushions of your boat as the Edwardian style punter glides you down the Avon River, passing the trailing willows and leafy banks of the stunning Christchurch Botanic Gardens. This is an iconic Christchurch experience. I felt majestic being punted on the river, I floated past the gardens and simply soaked up the atmosphere of a quiet, silent river trip.

Punting, of course, is all about people power,  not an engine in sight.




Punting is popular, booking is essential to ensure you do not miss out. Boat trips are either 30 or 45 minutes. Private punting is available.

  1. Gondola ride up the Port Hills

Combined with a vintage tram ticket hop aboard the gondola and get whisked above the suburbs of Christchurch. The Gondola travels nearly a kilometer to the Crater Rim of the Port Hills. There are numerous photo moments as you are smoothly transported up to the Port Hills. The hills’ local walking trails along the ridge lines dividing Christchurch from the Lyttelton Port provide an opportunity for couples to indulge in a romantic picnic above the city.



Christchurch gondola in the sunset light, Christchurch, New Zealand
Christchurch gondola in the sunset light
Little High Eatery @littlehigheatery
Little High Eatery @littlehigheatery
  1. Christchurch’s eating scene

Delve into the bustle of the Riverside market. Fresh produce, specialty stores, and artisan bakeries share the indoor space of Riverside. Grab some foodie treats and enjoy sitting with the locals on the precinct’s stairs leading to the Avon River. The city tempts you to indulge in sticky buns or enjoy a plant-based treat from an organic store. Little High is a contemporary space where Pacific fusion meets contemporary Kiwi fare from curly fries to pork coriander dumplings. An alternative outdoors / indoors space food destination. The choice is yours.



  1. Markets and laneways

Shopping in Christchurch is a pleasure with a compact city, laneways to explore, indoor/outdoor markets, emerging and established arts and crafts scene, and the energy of a city that has re-emerged from a devastating earthquake in good heart.

The SALT district, Christchurch, New Zealand @saltdistrict
The SALT district @saltdistrict

Riverside markets is a must-go destination with SALT a close second for lovers of funky sustainable goods.

@Christchurch Adventure Park
@Christchurch Adventure Park
  1. Christchurch adventure park

Play at a premier adventure park. Grab a zipline and float above the forest observing mountain bikers testing their skills on the various trails. There are challenging suspension bridges, nets, swings and flying foxes.

At 1.8 kilometre long the Christchurch Adventure Park chairlift is the longest in New Zealand!



Outdoor adventures – Сhristchurch

Christchurch’s backyard is Canterbury. Canterbury is where adventure beckons. Reignite the senses and ski at a world-class alpine resort, play golf against a skyline of the Southern Alps, bungee jump off a historic bridge in the Rakaia gorge, raft Canterbury braided rivers in Hanmer Springs, mountain bike, hot-air balloon the Canterbury plains, wind surf, whale watch in Akaroa and visit internationally-acclaimed wineries and gardens – all within a short drive of the city.

City views

Avon River, Oxford Terrace is a series of stunning contemporary buildings with street dining and balconies overlooking tiered public steps / seating / gardens as the Avon River serenely flows. Visitors are invited to sit, relax and soak in the view of a river and gardens.


Beautiful color of Autumn at Avon River in Christchurch New Zealand
Beautiful color of Autumn at Avon River in Christchurch
New Regent street Spanish Art Deco, Christchurch, New Zealand
New Regent street Spanish Art Deco, Christchurch, New Zealand

New Regent street is a homage to art deco with pastel colours and building facades tempting visitors to linger in the many cafes. Sydenham is where a gritty inner suburb is now a funky popular destination for locals and visitors with its cafes, contemporary buildings and heritage past seemingly folded together.

Pedestrian precincts are marked with light-filled laneways and clearly designated shared pathways encourage exploration on foot or by bike. The flat city offers an intriguing way to explore the centre city on foot or by e-scooter, while a hop-on/hop-off historic tramway provides a relaxed city loop experience past key attractions.


Explore Christchurch, Port Hills & Lyttleton Harbour and what to pack for a picnic lunch, check out Christchurch market hopping and shopping – Best Bits.

Best 6 short walks in Christchurch

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.

learn more
Halswell Quarry, Christchurch, South Island, NZ
Lyttleton Harbour, Christchurch, Canterbury, South Island, NZ
Banks Peninsula, Christchurch, South Island, NZ

Gardens & Parks

Explore the great outdoors

In the city centre, shared wide pedestrian / cycle pathways, pedestrian-only streets, parks and plenty of cycle only lanes make Christchurch a pleasure to navigate. Highlights include the Botanic Garden, Hagley Park as city green spaces. Glide or kayak the Avon River as it meanders through the city. Find a high point on the Port Hills and explore shared walking / cycling trails with sweeping views of the Canterbury Plains and Southern Alps. Reach the top of the Port Hills whisking yourself up on the Christchurch Gondola.

Read more about 11 favourite public parks and gardens to visit in Christchurch. The city continues to be known as the Garden City and for good reason. It is beautiful.


Family fun

Family and friends – what to do with the kids

Discover nearby WILDLIFE PARKS. Who needs to go on safari when Christchurch has wildlife parks within driving distance. This is a must-go destination for kids with the animals up close and personal. There are award-winning playgrounds, The Groynes with its walking trails, playgrounds, boats and Hagley Park to kick, jump and skip in.

For more tips on what to do with the kids check Christchurch holiday inspiration for families, trip guide: Best Bits.

For the outdoor walks and cycling trails check Christchurch best short walks. Christchurch is a city built for walking with cycling a popular local activity.


Air Force Museum of NZ dramatic theatre lighting, Christchurch, Canterbury, NZ
Air Force Museum of NZ, Christchurch, Canterbury, NZ

Free things to do

Picnic outdoors or wonder how to solve the puzzle of enormous lego pieces in the Imagination Station at the Christchurch Public Library. Enjoy orienteering courses at The Groynes for a nominal fee or enquire at the visitor centre when the next free guided walk departs. Check when the next festival is happening and get the walking shoes ready to explore outdoors.

Read more Christchurch things to do for free. Remember to check out the local delis for the making of a great picnic lunch.



Art & Heritage

Immerse yourself in creative arts. Creativity is a big part of Christchurch culture. As you wander the streets you can’t help but be impressed by the scale and quality of street art from local and international artists. The visually impressive layered glass Christchurch Art Gallery is free to visit. Nearby is the Heritage Arts Centre of Christchurch is home to small exhibitions and shops selling exceptional local art and crafts. Live theatre is part of the thread of Christchurch with The Court Theatre a benchmark for talented artists to aim for. Isaac Theatre Royal, a beautifully restored Edwardian theatre (1908) hosts a variety of music events, comedy, dance, and school drama plays.

Read more Christchurch Street Art. Quirky photo opportunities and amazing what creative art can achieve in abandoned places.

Art galleries & Theatre

Read more about Christchurch art galleries, artisan outlets & art scene. For art buffs Christchurch is a must-go destination. Imaginative design and contemporary architecture has played an important role in the post-earthquake recovery of Christchurch.


Banks Peninsula & Akaroa

The natural spaces of the Banks Peninsula beckon visitors to plan day trips to explore beyond the city boundaries. Camping is a favourite pastime for local visitors with plenty of opportunity to enjoy the treats Akaroa offers while getting away from it all. Check out 8 camping places on Banks Peninsula, Akaroa, travel guide: Best Bits for inspiration about where to go camping. The Banks Peninsula over 40 bays encourages visitors to Christchurch to contemplate a day exploring further afield.  At the heart of Banks Peninsula is Akaroa, one of New Zealand’s French settlements.




Akaroa Beach on the Banks Peninsula, NZ
Akaroa Beach on the Banks Peninsula, NZ


Akaroa is Frenchness reinterpreted Aotearoa New Zealand style. The colonial charm of an original French settlement is retained in the picture postcard village of Akaroa with its picture board houses and shops. Enjoy crisp pastries and French inspired deli treats. Enjoy a  Black Cat Cruise on the harbour to find life, including the smallest dolphins in the world – Hector’s dolphin.

Read more 10 holiday ideas for families in Akaroa, what to do & see: Best Bits. Akaora has plenty of attractions for kids from swimming with dolphins to The Giant’s House with its café, a contemporary art gallery and a terraced garden filled with sculptures and mosaics. For heritage buffs check out Akaroa cemeteries guide, 5 activities, things to see & do: Best Bits.




To find Akaroa culinary delights check out Akaroa 7 street food destinations. Everybody deserves a crisp Danish while on holiday or where to get the best fish n chips.


Markets & Shopping

Release your shopping spirit and explore the streets of Christchurch. The flat compact city is a shopper’s heaven with international labels sitting cheek by jowl with vintage and second-hand stores. From clothing to winter holiday wear to arts and crafts Christchurch is fun.

Read more about Christchurch market hopping and shopping. There are several great weekend markets to choose from.

Christchurch festivals

Christchurch has developed a reputation for hosting festivals. Heritage festivals, books, storytellings and ideas festivals, garden events, walking festivals exploring the city and beyond, street art festivals including entertainment and pop-up theatre, festivals supporting summer music events are part of the rich tapestry of entertainment the city has to offer.


  • The World Buskers Festival is held in Christchurch (mid summer) and there are many ad hoc acts free for passersby to enjoy. Eclectic, from magic, and comedy to street theatre the festival is street entertainment at its best. There are multiple shows around the Arts Centre, Cathedral Square and New Regent Street.
  • Christchurch Lantern Festival celebrates Chinese New Year and the Avon River precinct is decorated with hundreds of lanterns. There are shadow puppets, acrobats and live music. Food trucks with delectable Asian foodie treats tempt visitors to try something new or an old favourite.
  • Christchurch Walking Festival (September – October). Christchurch Walking Festival is a great chance to get out of tracks, often guided walks, and on trails you might not have tried before
  • Christchurch Heritage Festival: Celebration of the heritage of the city – walks, open days, exhibitions, performances
  • Kidsfest (winter): most of the events are free with attractions from Polar Night at the Museum and fun adventures in the city

Romance in the garden city, things to do for couples

Cherry blossom at Hagely Park Christchurch, New Zealand
Cherry blossom at Hagely Park Christchurch

A city with a meandering river flowing through its heart is a city built for romance and couples. The nearby Port Hills and adventures of ziplining and skydiving await. Then there is the opportunity to hot air balloon over the Canterbury Plains with a glass of bubbles as a reward. For wine trail buffs enjoy a day exploring what the North Canterbury, Hurunui wine and food trail has to offer visitors.

Read more about Christchurch romantic places. Some things are meant to be on holiday and one of those moments is punting on the Avon River. It is an unforgettable romantic thing to do.



Where to eat & drink in Сhristchurch

Unearth the local favourite brunch locations. Explore Sydenham and relish your relaxed lunch at Hello Sunday. Wander through Boxed Quarter and visit The Welder or Little High Eatery with its shared food stall spaces and shared fusion experiences. Christchurch eateries are justifiably a key attraction. Consider a trip to Hurunui to go foraging for truffles or join a cooking workshop.

Read more about Christchurch brunch, lunch 7 places to eat. Definitely, holidays are made easier with the foodie treats sorted.



@Christchurch Tramway Restaurant
@Christchurch Tramway Restaurant

Christchurch nightlife

Carlton Bar and Eatery @carltonbar1863

Christchurch nightlife is a speak-easy bar, a basement that is hard to find, a rooftop bar with a view and a tramcar where dinner is served. Read more about where to find a craft beer, a rooftop bar or where the grownups go to play at night.



Day trips

The Canterbury region spoils visitors with choice. The Hurunui district choice ranges from Hurunui Road Trips – Routes & Itineraries – Best Bits to Hanmer Springs, a resort hot pools spa town.

Kaikoura is a marine wildlife encounter with the whales, dolphins and seals a safari experience. Kaikour offers guided kayaking tours to get up close and personal with fur seals and bird life. Choose whether to snorkel with dolphins and seals in Akaroa.

Explore inland Canterbury on a road trip passing through picturesque towns such as Waimate with its Knottingley Park and Victoria Park. Enjoy Ashburton, its interesting transport museums and Geraldine with its heritage streetscape, delis and foodie market finds.

Enjoy winter sports from the comfort of Methven and consider the possibility of a world class TranzAlpine train trip through the Arthurs Pass to the West Coast. Arthur’s Pass National Park in the Southern Alps is only two hours by car.



Family Sea kayaking off Kaikoura, New Zealand
Family Sea kayaking off Kaikoura

Lyttelton and Banks Peninsula, Akaroa

Lyttelton offers plenty of things to do with galleries, shops wrapped around the historic main street. The eclectic nestled in an eclectic main street. Linger and enjoy the arty vibe of a port town Lyttelton. The impressive road tunnel whisks visitors from Christchurch CBD in 20 minutes to the busy port town.

Holidays with kids Akaroa is an ideal holiday destination for local and overseas visitors due to the mix of activities from polished tourist attractions such as swimming with dolphins (check ethnic statement of any operator offering a wildlife encounter), kayaking the harbour or guided town tours to eclectic cemetery tours. There are free activities for families on a budget from exploring rock pools or finding quirky outdoor sculptures on the Children’s Walk. Together with camping options Banks Peninsula is a favourite family holiday destination.


Getting about and around Сhristchurch

Flat, wide smooth pathways are designed for both pedestrians and cyclists. Walking tours, is a guided tour of the inner city suitable for most fitness levels. You are not faced with steep hills and valleys. It is a city of squares, grids and signposts. Walk Christchurch is managed by volunteers. The walks are not ‘free’ ; a donation is encouraged for visitors using Walk Christchurch volunteer services.  Self guided walks can be used in conjunction with the Christchurch Tram heritage trail as a base to explore the city. Check the Travel Pack Section for downloadable guides and maps.





City reimaginated, Christchurch, New Zealand
New Regent street Spanish Art Deco

Hop-On & Hop-Off Bus

Hop on and hop off the bus is a classic way to get to know a place. Step on board to the classic 1960’s London Open Top Double Decker buses for a fun and informative tour of Christchurch. Learn about Christchurch’s fascinating history from the pioneering days through to modern day times and learn how Christchurch is recovering from the Canterbury earthquakes which has now become a major event in New Zealand’s history. The experience includes a 1 hour Tour around central Christchurch on New Zealand’s only Open Top Double Decker and a 2 hour Tour on a closed top Double Decker visiting places of interest in greater Christchurch.

A Hop-on, Hop-off option is available at Sumner Beach and The Tannery Retail Emporium.

Cycling and bike transport

Christchurch is flat as well as a relatively compact city. It is a great place to cycle your way around. There are various companies renting both electric and pedal power wheels. The hire company can meet you at pre-arranged sites for delivery and collection of bicycles. Check out Christchurch cycle map published by Christchurch local government.


Gondola – Christchurch’s Top Activity. Suspended above the suburbs of Christchurch, the Gondola (otherwise known as a cable car) whisks you nearly a kilometer to the Crater Rim of the Port Hills. Perfect panoramic photo moments while you float above the Port Hills. The hills include favourite local walking trails along the ridge lines dividing Christchurch from the Lyttelton Port. Remember to experience the Time Tunnel, a dramatic reconstruction of the history of the Port Hills and Christchurch.

Christchurch Gondola, Canterbury, South Island, NZ
Christchurch Gondola, Canterbury, South Island, NZ

Christchurch public bus network

Christchurch has a comprehensive public bus service. For maps and timetables check beforehand to avoid delays or changed routes.

Where does Metro travel?

There are 29 Metro services in the Greater Christchurch network, from high frequency buses crisscrossing and orbiting the city, and routes that reach nearby towns in the Waimakariri and Selwyn districts. Check out the Metro Network Map to see which routes run through your neighbourhood.

Read more about the metrocard and routes.

Plan your trip

Turn up at the right time for your ride, every time, with our new, real-time journey planning and Next Bus tools. Head to to plan your trip and see when the next bus is due.

Getting around Christchurch with a rental car

Do you need a vehicle to enjoy a holiday in Christchurch, South Island?

You do not require a vehicle for a short Christchurch holiday. If your visit is focused on a city exploration.  Christchurch is a compact city with an excellent public transport network, a well-established taxi service as well as paths and maps to guide walkers around the newly rebuilt Christchurch.

If you decide to discover the surroundings of the city and hire a car, check out the best rental car deals available now! 


Christchurch, Canterbury, South Island, NZ
Christchurch, Canterbury, South Island, NZ
@The Muse Christchurch Art Hotel
@The Muse Christchurch Art Hotel

Where to stay

Families, kids or fancy free and just the two of you. Christchurch is an ideal base for a South Island holiday exploring Canterbury, the Southern Alps, Banks Peninsula (Akaroa) or Hanmer Springs.



  • Select your MUST GO attractions
  • Investigate hop on and hop off bus route and/or vintage tram route, especially useful if you do not have a vehicle

City centre location

  • Sightseeing major attractions
  • Cafes & restaurants
  • Nightlife
  • No vehicle
  • First time visitors

City centre suburb Merivale and Riccarton are a great alternative to the city centre especially for visitors with a vehicle. Both suburbs are on busy public transport routes with Hagley North Park acting as a public space.

Weekends – couples

  • City Centre is ideal. Your break can embrace city attractions without the need of a vehicle.

Travelling with kids

Riccarton location is ideal when travelling with kids (nearby Hagley North Park & major shopping mall for essentials)

Christchurch Cathedral earthquake damage, Christchurch, New Zealand
Christchurch Cathedral earthquake damage
Rose Garden arches at the Botanical Gardens in Chrictchurch, New Zealand
Rose Garden arches at the Botanical Gardens in Chrictchurch


Christchurch Central Weather Forecast and Observations

Summer is from December to March February with warm days and extended daylight hours. Summer temperatures between 21c to 26c. Winter kicks in with chilly blasts in June through to late August. Winter temperatures between 14c to 10c. During the night there are regular frosts.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Christchurch is October to April. Spring is a peak season with the garden city offering visitors a glorious botanical display of colour. Year round Christchurch has something for everyone with plenty of indoor entertainment.


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We promise to never accept free products from manufacturers in return for boosting their products. Our independence and reviews is funded by your purchases and affiliate commissions, at no additional cost to yourself… read more about our affiliate programme in the terms and conditions HERE.

Travel pack information

Māori oral history and archaeological evidence points to people inhabiting the Canterbury area since the 12th century. Christchurch became a city by Royal Charter in 1856, making it the oldest city in New Zealand. Many of the city’s original Gothic buildings dated from this period. Christchurch, bordered by the Port Hills and the Pacific Ocean, is situated on the Canterbury Plains with the Southern Alps as a majestic backdrop. You have a city framed by mountains and the ocean.

Known traditionally as “The Garden City”, the Avon River flows through the centre of the city and urban parks. The river is home to an iconic visitor attraction punting on the Avon.

More recently however, Christchurch has been rebuilding and revitalizing itself following the Canterbury Earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 and making way for some of the most innovative and creative projects in the world. This is a chance to visit a city on the brink of reimagining itself alongside history and heritage.


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

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