8 Unmissable Things To Do In & Around Christchurch, New Zealand

Located on the South Island of New Zealand, Christchurch is a lively city boasting beautiful gardens, a tragic history and regeneration. Here are the best things to do in Christchurch.
Christchurch. Photo: Kishan Modi | Unsplash

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A city with a tragic history, Christchurch is the city where urban regeneration and heritage thrive. 

Located on the South Island of New Zealand, Christchurch is a lively city boasting innovative projects, a bustling hospitality scene and established green spaces. 

Christchurch is the perfect place to base yourself to explore the city and surrounding Canterbury region, home to the Southern Alps and Canterbury Plains.  

There is so much to do in this beautiful New Zealand city, making it one of the top places to visit.

Here are eight unmissable things to do in Christchurch. 

Visit Arthur’s Pass 

Arthur’s Pass. Photo: Koon Chakhatrakan | Unsplash

If you have a car while visiting Christchurch, one of the best things to do is to visit Arthur’s Pass. This road crosses over the Southern Alps and makes for one of the most scenic drives in the country. 

Passing through Arthur’s Pass National Park, this road reaches over 900 metres in height at its greatest point. It also boasts some of the most jaw-dropping views of the surrounding alpine region. 

The journey through Arthur’s Pass showcases some of the most unique landscapes in the South Island, such as lush beech forests, mountains and azure blue rivers. 

If you don’t have a car and want to experience Arthur’s Pass, the Tranzalpine Train makes for a spectacular journey through the area, especially in winter! 

Quake City 

Christchurch. Photo: Koon Chakhatrakan | Unsplash

In 2011, Christchurch experienced its worst earthquake in history, killing 185 people and injuring thousands. 

Quake City is one of the best things to do in Christchurch. Although it may be sad to experience, the attraction aims to add to the general public’s understanding of how the city and its inhabitants dealt with the earthquake. 

The attraction looks at the impact of the natural world on human development with various educational and entertaining displays. 

If it’s your first time visiting Christchurch, experiencing Quake City is a must. 

Christchurch Gondola 

Christchurch Gondola. Photo: Kishan Modi | Unsplash

New Zealand is one of the most mountainous countries in the world. So, you can expect plenty of gondolas to ride and experience fantastic views! 

Hopping on the Christchurch Gondola is one of the best things to do in Christchurch. It provides breathtaking views of the cityscape, Port Hills, Lyttleton Harbour and the Southern Alps in the distance. 

The gondola takes you from Heathcote Valley to the top of Mount Cavendish in the Port Hills. The ten-minute ride covers a distance of 862 metres horizontally. Once you’re at the top, there are plenty of things to do, such as hiking trails and a cafe to eat at. 

Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Botanic Gardens. Photo: Kishan Modi | Unsplash

Christchurch is known as the Garden City, so what better activity to do than wander through the beautiful Botanic Gardens? 

Boasting the most expansive collection of native and exotic plants in the country, the Botanic Gardens in Christchurch are massive. 

Located in the heart of the city, the Botanic Gardens were one of the few places unaffected by the earthquakes, so they still offer the same abundance of plant and animal life they always have. 

The best time of year to visit the Botanic Gardens is in spring when the flowers are in full bloom, lighting up the gardens in a range of different colours. 

Avon River 

Avon River. Photo: Brendan Pfahlert | Unsplash

Winding its way through Christchurch and out into the Pacific Ocean, the Avon River has a length of 14 kilometres and punting on the river is one of the best things to do in Christchurch. 

Much like the gondolas in Venice, punting is one of the most popular attractions in Christchurch. Sit back and relax as your Edwardian-garbed punter guides you down the Avon River in a handcrafted flat-bottomed boat, pointing out incredible sights along the way. 

This is one of the best things to do any time of year in Christchurch! 

Cardboard Cathedral 

Cardboard Cathedral Roof. Photo: nic chi | Unsplash

Designed as a temporary replacement for the earthquake-torn Christchurch Cathedral, the Cardboard Cathedral is a must-see in the city.

The Cardboard Cathedral opened in 2013 and comprises 60-metre diameter cardboard tubes, a polycarbon roof, shipping container walls and triangular stained glass windows. 

Designed to last 50 years, the Cardboard Cathedral is open to the public and is a must-see while in Christchurch. 

Hike the Godley Head Trail 

Godley Head Trail. Photo: Koon Chakhatrakan | Unsplash

If you’re a fan of nature and hiking, one of the best things to do in Christchurch is to hike the Godley Head trail. 

The Godley Head Trail is a 9.3km moderate hiking track that takes around three hours to complete. The hike is a great activity to escape the city’s hustle and bustle and soak in the stunning views of Christchurch, the Kaikoura Ranges and the Banks Peninsula. 

If you want to break up the hike, you can pack a tent and essentials in a backpack and stay overnight at the Godley Head Campsite, which costs $15 per adult per night for non-powered sites. 

International Antarctic Centre

Blue Penguin. Photo: Uriel Soberanes | Unsplash

Finally, one of the best things to do in Christchurch is to visit the International Antarctic Centre. 

The International Antarctic Centre is an interactive museum fantastic for families that offers insight into Antarctica. 

Located near the International Airport, a departure point for many expeditions to Antarctica, the International Antarctic Centre has many great attractions, including an indoor Antarctic Storm simulation room, Hägglund vehicle rides, huskies and resident blue penguins.

A city that has it all, Christchurch has so many incredible things to see and do, making it a place you must visit on a trip to New Zealand.

Beautiful no matter what time of year, Christchurch has something for everyone to enjoy, from gliding along the Avon River to driving along one of the most scenic routes in the country.

When will you start planning your trip to this beautiful New Zealand city?


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