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Top Activities in Christchurch

See all 178 things to do in Christchurch

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Christchurch Attractions

Located on the eastern coast of New Zealand’s South Island, Christchurch is a picturesque getaway nestled by Pegasus Bay to the east and the Southern Alps to the west. With its strong English heritage dating back to the mid-1800s, Christchurch is known for its Gothic Revival architecture as well as the charming English-style gardens that have earned the town the nickname of The Garden City. After undergoing major renovations after a series of earthquakes a few years back, Christchurch is a vibrant hub that’s home to restaurants, cafes, theaters, and music venues that are catered to a wide variety of tastes. Outside of town, you can surf, ski, hike, bike, whale-watch, and visit wineries—all within 2 hours of the city center.

Areas & Neighborhoods in Christchurch

Central City — Bounded by Deans, Bealey, Moorehouse, and Fitzgerald avenues, Central City is the historic heart of Christchurch. Find a range of chic boutiques, funky restaurants, and vibrant bars along vivacious streets such as Victoria, St. Asaph, and High Street. On the west side of the district is sprawling Hagley Park, which is home to some of the city’s top attractions including the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and the Canterbury Museum.

Merivale — Abutting Central City to the northwest, Merivale is where the stylish come to the eat and shop. On Papanui Road between Aikmans and Office, the Merivale Mall boasts more than 40 elegant stores and and nearly 10 cafes and eateries. South from the mall until Bealey Avenue, “Motel Mile” offers pleasant bed-and-breakfasts in a safe and quiet atmosphere.

Riccarton — To the west of Hagley Park is Riccarton, a district that became an important retail and entertainment hub following the earthquakes that shut down Central City. Here is where you’ll find the massive Westfield Shopping Mall, tons of motels and coffee shops, and a rapidly growing number of restaurants serving delicious and inexpensive Asian eats.

Sumner/Ferrymead — Lying on the southeastern tip of Christchurch about 9 miles (14 km) from Central City, Sumner is a postcard-worthy beach destination ideal for visiting in the warm weather months. The neighborhood is characterized by steep hillsides that offer stunning views of the coast, as well as The Esplanade, where surfers gather after hitting the waves. Ferrymead, about 4 miles (7 km) to the west, has become the area’s prime spot for shopping and dining.

What to See in Christchurch

Scope out all the city’s best sights aboard an old-timey streetcar. From the heart of Christchurch at Cathedral Junction, grab a seat near the window for a ride that takes you past key landmarks like the Isaac Theatre Royal, the Bridge of Remembrance, and the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Hop off at any of the 17 stops along the route to further explore on your own.

With a combo package, your sightseeing tour can also offer you a different perspective on the region—one from the height of 1,640 feet (500 m) above sea level. Aboard the Christchurch Gondola, soar suspended over the valley until you reach the top of Mount Cavendish. From the summit, gaze out upon panoramic views of the glittering harbor, the patchwork plains, and the dramatic snowy peaks of the Southern Alps.

Sightseeing in Christchurch

For Outdoor Explorers

Spend a day immersed in the breathtaking scenery of New Zealand with an excursion into the inland alpine areas of the South Island. From Christchurch, set off for a drive across the Canterbury Plains to Lake Tekapo, a turquoise swath of water that glimmers against the deep blue mountains and emerald hills. Continue on into Mount Cook National Park, where you have free time to explore the trails at your leisure. Climb the craggy terrain of the Tasman Glacier to reach Lake Tasman, a recently formed body of water dotted with tiny icebergs.

For Adrenaline Junkies

Feel your heart race as you fly over the cold waters of the Waimakariri River on a thrilling jet boat ride. The speed demon shoots you into a land of steep canyons and rocky riverbeds, propelling you past evergreen forests, towering mountains, and cascading waterfalls. Hold onto your seat as your captain performs death-defying sprints and spins, slowing down just long enough for you to catch your breath before tackling the aquatic stunts once more.

For Peace Seekers

Sit back and relax as you soak in the tranquil scenery surrounding the Avon River, which winds its way through the heart of Christchurch. On a flat-bottomed boat, let a skilled punter maneuver you slowly around the riverbends, offering views of the antique buildings and lush botanic gardens.

For Food & Wine Aficionados

Uncork the secrets of South Island winemaking in the Waipara Valley, a cool-weather region known for producing world-class wines. Sip your way through the lowlands as you visit 4 esteemed wineries, sampling bright and fruity riesling and exquisitely spicy pinot noir. With your appetite whetted, head to an estate for a lunch made of vino-friendly antipasto plates. Nibble on fresh cheese, seasonal fruit, cured meat, and house-baked bread, all expertly paired with mouthwatering wine.

For Movie Buffs

Dive into the fantastical world created by Lord of the Rings on a journey into Middle-Earth. From Christchurch, set off toward Mount Sunday, where the peaceful peaks and sprawling valley were transformed into the movie’s capital city of Rohan. Throughout the day, hear entertaining details and behind-the-scenes stories from the filming process. Upon reaching Mount Sunday, hike to the summit to take in panoramic views over vast plains and incandescent lakes. With the region providing the ultimate backdrop, pose for photos with replicas of movie props such as Aragorn’s sword and Gimli’s axe.

Free Things to Do in Christchurch

There's no need to max out your credit card in Christchurch. The following won't cost a cent.

Canterbury Museum - Old or young, this gallery will pique your imagination and educate your mind.

Chalice - This is a wonderful place to get your culture fix and learn all about the local arts scene.

Victoria Park - Give the kids a good time or let your own inner child run free — this place was made for fun.

Cramner Square - Architecture aficionado or not, prepare to be awed by this landmark's modern design.

Bridge of Remembrance - If you're intrigued by bygone eras, this is one stop you can't miss.

Cathedral Square - This vibrant area is a favorite of both locals and visitors.

Victoria Lake - Shut your eyes and take a deep breath — there's nothing like being near the water for some rest and relaxation.

Christchurch Public Hospital - Set aside some time to visit this place of local importance.

St. Luke the Evangelist - Toss some spirituality into your getaway by spending some time at this sacred site.

New Brighton Beach - Skip rocks along the water, watch the sun go down or simply appreciate the views from the foreshore.

Travis Wetland - You're certain to reconnect with Mother Nature at this stunning spot.

Christchurch Botanic Gardens - Organize a picnic and enjoy a leisurely stroll around the gorgeous plant life.

Explore The Neighborhoods of Christchurch

Christchurch City Centre

Explore the picturesque and vibrant heart of the city that is getting back to normal after a series of devastating earthquakes.

GardensMuseumsDining

Riccarton

A noteworthy feature of Riccarton is its popular shops. While you're in town, be sure to stop and check out Westfield Riccarton Mall and Riccarton Road.

RomanticShoppingDining

Merivale

Merivale is popular for its abundant dining options, and if you're looking for more to see and do, you might think about a trip to Bealey Avenue or Papanui Road.

GardensRomanticTours

Addington

Unique features of Addington include the theaters and live music. Make a stop by Horncastle Arena or AMI Stadium while you're exploring the area.

Friendly PeopleTheatersExcursions

Hornby

Visitors to Hornby like its museums and shopping, and Air Force Museum of New Zealand is a sight worth a stop.

BudgetShoppingMuseums

New Brighton

You'll enjoy the beaches and parks in New Brighton. You might want to make time for a stop at New Brighton Beach or Rawhiti Domain.

BeachesNatural ParksNature

Frequently Asked Questions

What to do in Christchurch on a sunny day?

What should I not miss in Christchurch?

Don't head home without crossing off the following unmissable attractions:

  • New Brighton Beach
  • Mona Vale
  • Lyttelton Harbour
  • Canterbury Museum

Are there cheap things to do in Christchurch?

What can you do in Christchurch for free?

You could put your credit card in the hotel safe for the day, because these fabulous attractions won't cost you a cent:

  • New Brighton Beach
  • Mona Vale
  • Lyttelton Harbour
  • Canterbury Museum