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Avon River walks, trails and activities to do along the river banks

  • 2 minutes

Christchurch, NZ

Christchurch Avon River best things to do

  • Punting the Avon River with an Edwardian punter allowing you to relax, soak in the city and garden views. Not a jet ski or jet boat in sight, rather it’s elegant Edwardian clothing, a pole and a slowly guided punt on the gently flowing Avon river.
  • Riverside Markets with bustle of owner operated boutique cafes and eateries adding a culinary note to the Avon
  • Discover Christchurch, a place of water sports. Christchurch water sports take the slow lane. Sea kayak Lyttelton Harbour or explore nearby Diamond Harbour. The Groynes waterways provide opportunities for families to indulge in family fun in pedal boats.



The  Otakaro Avon River starts life as a spring in Avonhead, Christchurch suburb. Originally Christchurch was a significant wetland and filtered out to sea via the estuaries of the Heathcote and Avon Rivers. The popular recreational Avon River runs through the city centre.

Commercial punting is popular in a number of locations, kayaks and paddle boats can be hired from the Antigua Boat Sheds.

Avon River shared pathways for walks and cycling.

Botanic Gardens River Walk, Hagley River Walk, Little Hagley Walk and Millbrook Reserve Walk all follow alongside the Otakaro/Avon and offer stunning scenery in all seasons.

The river also passes through many areas of significance such as Riccarton Bush, Mona Vale and Victoria Square.

Kayak on the Avon River, Christchurch, New Zealand
Kayak on the Avon River, Christchurch, New Zealand

Avon river walk, kayak or cycle

– 26 km route to the estuary

  • Take time to contemplate the disaster of the Canterbury earthquake at the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial
  • Enjoy a foodie treat, coffee or snack at the Riverside markets
  • Explore the natural spaces of the Botanic Gardens, Hagley Park or Mona Vale

Kids will be intrigued by the Running past the Margaret Mahy playground through the Christchurch 9/11 Memorial, which is created from five steel girders from one of the World Trade Centre towers. It was designed by Christchurch artist Graham Bennett; the artwork is simple, in its design.

Discover Christchurch Red Zone where homes have been removed from the river banks and nature allowed to take over.

Past the largest pump station in Christchurch on New Brighton road taking the water from HorseShoe lake then feeding it into the river.

Paddleboarding the Avon River is allowed. There are several start and finish points along the River Avon that are ideal for paddleboarding.

Explore the Avon River, Christchurch by Waka

Leaving from 794 Colombo Street opposite Victoria Square, this 45-minute waka paddling experience is an amazing cultural journey of the Ōtākaro Avon River by waka.

Experience the team and skill building of paddling a hand-crafted waka down the ŌtākaroRiver Avon, and learn about the importance of the waka to the earlyMāori culture. Enjoy early stories of Canterbury’s Ngāi Tahu Iwi and the earliest European settlers, and the positive things they achieved building the city of Christchurch together.

Mill Island, Avon River, Christchurch. NZ
Mill Island, Avon River, Christchurch. NZ

Hire a boat to explore the Avon River, Christchurch

Choose your own adventure by hiring a single or double kayak from the Antigua Boat Sheds. Whether you’re flying solo or sharing the experience, prepare to soak in the peaceful sights and sounds of the river as it flows beneath you. The Sheds also have pedal boats and Canadian canoes for hire all year long.


Explore Boat Hire

Christchurch avon river walking / cycle map

Our route follows a recommended walking path, anchored by Oxford Terrace/Avonside Dr. (south bank) and Cambridge Terrace (north bank) — although either side is possible in most sections. Starting at Victoria Square downtown, head east, mainly on the north bank, for 3 km, then crossing over to Avonside Dr. at Swans Rd. The remaining 8+ km are mainly on the south bank, following Avonside Rd./Hulverstone Dr., with some sections of dedicated path. route ends at Pages Rd. in New Brighton. Note: Can do a one-way using the bus (yellow line).
Add-On: Can also follow the river path for 1.6 miles west to Hagley Park, and enjoy our route there.

Want a bite to eat while at Hagley Park Christchurch?

  • Christchurch Botanic Gardens cafes
  • Mona Vale cafe is located in the Christchurch city suburb of Fendalton
  • Arts Centre on Hereford St is home to delicious food trucks, ice creams and cafes
  • Riverside Markets with its array of foodie treat is 2.2 km walking distance

Walk, enjoy delectable eats, perhaps punt on the Avon River.


Learn more


Still not sure where to eat while on holiday in Christchurch, check out fascinating places in Christchurch eat and drink in style, 5 heritage places, great views – Best Bits.

Christchurch City Promenade

  • Length: 2 km

Once primarily for vehicles, Oxford Terrace, on the east side of the river has become a broad, paved area for everyone to share. Pedestrians and cyclists now have priority along the 2km expanse. Starting from the hospital end of Oxford Terrace, follow the river past the national memorial to the victims of the Canterbury Earthquake.

The promenade then crosses Cambridge Terrace and heads up The Terrace where you can find many bars and restaurants. Be sure to head down to the river using the access points to spot some eels before continuing along the terrace.

The path then leads into Victoria Square, a historic marketplace and popular spot for events. The Town Hall sits across the river and you can enjoy the Ferrier Fountain, shaped like dandelions, and the Bowker Fountain, the first illuminated electric fountain in Australasia.

Continuing along the path, you will eventually arrive at the famous Margaret Mahy playground, a wonderland for children. For a longer walk, cross the river and take the Te Ara Trail all the way out to the estuary.

Avon River, punting, NZ
Avon River, punting, NZ

Te Ara Ōtākaro Avon River Trail

  • Length: 11 km
  • Dogs on leash

This shared-use trail is a transitional walking and biking track along the Avon/Ōtākaro River. While the future of the area is still being decided, take the opportunity to explore parts of the Red Zone on this trail.

Punting on River Avon Christchurch, NZ
Punting on River Avon Christchurch, NZ

The trail is not a dedicated recreation track. It’s 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.

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.

Along the route, the Avon Ōtākaro Network has installed storyboards to tell the tale of how the environment and the community have been affected by the earthquakes.



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


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