What to do and see in Christchurch, New Zealand: The Best Places and Tips

August 29, 2017 Jacquiline Delozier

Christchurch abounds with arts, adventure, and optimism. It's the gateway to the beautiful Canterbury region, featuring dramatic vistas and adventure sports set against a backdrop of lofty peaks. In the central city, more and more attractions and businesses reopen to the public each day.
Restaurants in Christchurch

1. Margaret Mahy Family Playground

Cnr Manchester & Armagh Streets, Christchurch, New Zealand +64 3-941 8999
Excellent
80%
Good
18%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 744 reviews

Margaret Mahy Family Playground

Reviewed By F T - London

A massive well-designed outdoor playground with a multitude of climbing activities as well as water activities which are super popular in the summer. Long flying fox and there is stuff to do for those who have pre-schoolers as well as primary school aged children. I think it's not as appealing to those 11 and above. Adults supervising are well catered for, plenty of Seating, although if going on a really sunny day bring a hat ... it gets hot there. There are food / coffee / ice cream trucks and toilets all on site. Parking is pretty easy too.

2. Banks Peninsula

Christchurch-Akaroa Road, Christchurch 7581, New Zealand +64 3-304 7641
Excellent
77%
Good
20%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

Banks Peninsula

Banks Peninsula near Christchurch, New Zealand is a must see for its stunning views, beautiful bays and quirky campgrounds. Little River is the gateway to the peninsula. The township has a hotel/pub, 2 cafes, a petrol station, art gallery, craft store and small museum. There are B&Bs, plus the Little River Campground in Okuti Valley Road. They have affordable campervan parks with power, cabins and tentsites set beside a river. The southern bays have some of the best surf, if you know the secret spots as well as good, safe swimming Beaches, walking tracks and the Little River Rail Trail. It is a a place that is often over looked as tourists head to Akaroa. If you want to experience more than the usual, to get off the beaten track and really explore, ask at the craft station, which has an info centre.

Reviewed By Albywon - Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Drive from Chch to Akaroa shows some of the dine features of this Peninsula. Great views available from so many stops on this road. 2243

3. Christchurch Botanic Gardens

6 Rolleston Ave, Christchurch, New Zealand +64 3-941 7590
Excellent
68%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 5 reviews

Christchurch Botanic Gardens

At the heart of Christchurch's reputation as the Garden City, the Gardens are a place of ever-changing beauty. Showcasing flora and fauna of New Zealand and other parts of the world, the Gardens feature one of the finest collections of exotic and local plants in New Zealand. With more than 1.1 Million visitors each year the Botanic Gardens are one of the Christchurch's most popular and well-loved attractions.

Reviewed By Nyonya - Bristol

It was delightful strolling through the botanical garden with its enormous trees such as hemlock and sequoia. Particularly memorable was a eucalyptus with huge twisted trunk. There's something to interest everyone, including a New Zealand zone and herbaceous borders.

4. Air Force Museum

45 Harvard Avenue | Wigram, Christchurch 8062, New Zealand +64 3-343 9532
Excellent
68%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 667 reviews

Air Force Museum

Discover New Zealand’s military aviation story at the place where it all began. Engage with stories of the men and women who have helped shape New Zealand’s military aviation journey, and reflect on their service and sacrifice through years of war and peace. Explore the diverse collection at your own pace through immersive Exhibitions, or join a free, guided ‘Behind the Scenes’ tour. View the historic aircraft on display, embark on a museum hunt with the kids, or test your flying skills in the ‘Mosquito Mission’ flight simulator! Price: FREE Admission - activity charges may apply Opening Hours: Daily (except Christmas Day), 10.00am - 5.00pm.

Reviewed By retireeVancouver - Vancouver

This attraction was bundled together with a visit to the nearby International Antarctic Center on our recent cruise ship excursion. Our group spent just over an hour walking through the huge hangar, once part of the Wigram Air Base, to see about 40 restored airplanes through which the aviation history of New Zealand was told. Visitors walk around the planes to read information boards which give manufacturing information, flight history, wartime involvement, and other statistics about the plane. To personalize each plane, large cutouts of pilots who had actually flown the planes were placed beside each plane. Biographical information about the pilot was written as if the pilot was talking to the visitor. The display included a B52 bomber and even the plane that had flown Queen Elizabeth ll to New Zealand in the 1950's. Pictures of the interior of this plane revealed how advanced plane interiors have become for passengers. In the attached building, were displays in cases providing more military/aviation history such as the start of the Air Force, training the flyers, the problems they incurred when shot down, their medals, and photos of their officers. I found it also interesting to read in their biographical accounts what these airmen went on to do after the wars. Volunteers were available to provide tours or just to answer questions. There was a cold case to select a pastry and a couple of tables to enjoy refreshments. Entry is free to all.

5. Hagley Park

Riccarton Avenue | City Central, Christchurch 8001, New Zealand +64 3-366 1701
Excellent
65%
Good
29%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

Hagley Park

Reviewed By langtonr - Harare, Zimbabwe

I liked the idea of the recreational park that offered cricket and football pitches as well as a wide walk area and a cricket oval on the other side. It seemed like a safe place to walk, jog or cycle.

6. Port Hills

575 Summit Road, Christchurch 8081, New Zealand +64 3-379 9629
Excellent
69%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 218 reviews

Port Hills

Reviewed By rambling z - Yangon (Rangoon), Myanmar

Best place in ChCh. It is our favourite place. You have an amazing view and fresh air. You also have many hiking and biking trails

7. TranzAlpine Train

Addington Railway Station | Troup Drive, Christchurch, New Zealand
Excellent
64%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 2 reviews

TranzAlpine Train

The TranzAlpine is a long-distance train between Christchurch and Greymouth, from one coast of New Zealand to the other. Unlike normal passenger trains, the TranzAlpine is designed to provide a window to New Zealand's best scenery, with large reclined Seating and huge panoramic windows. The spectacular TranzAlpine journey begins by roaming through the vast farmsteads of the Canterbury Plains to the spectacular gorges and Valleys of the Waimakariri River. The TranzAlpine then ascends into the majestic Southern Alps to Arthurs Pass National Park, before descending through lush beech forest to the West Coast town of Greymouth - a great base for visits to Punakaiki and the always-popular glaciers. All services feature panoramic windows, reclined Seating, GPS triggered at-seat commentary, a fully licensed cafe, toilets, and open air viewing decks. The TranzAlpine is operated by The Great Journeys of New Zealand, and runs daily throughout the year.

Reviewed By Whitehalltraveller - London

We went on this train journey at the end of our 3 week’s in NZ as we didn’t want to miss it. Firstly, book your train tickets by phone and not online as they have “starter fares” which are not listed on their website as they are usually available to kiwis only. You will save money! The train departed on time but note that the station is not in central Christchurch but is in Addington which means you need to take a taxi or shuttle. This takes 15mins. Seats are very comfy and there is an open viewing platform (I do mean open as you will feel the wind and rain) for photographers. The carriages do have large windows. There are 8 stops to Greymouth. The Canterbury plains are flat but there is plenty of sheep. The Mountains appear from Springfield which are the Southern Alps. Look out for the gorges by Waimakiri river on the right. As you travel higher up the Mountains, weather changes to mist or rain. Greymouth is nothing of significance, we had lunch in Maggie’s Kitchen which was very good but this stop is just a stopping off point to the glaciers on the West Coast or back to Christchurch. If you just want to experience the train journey, go as far Arthur’s Pass and take the coach back. Prices on the train for food are also very reasonable which was a surprise but bear in mind that it can run out.

8. Okains Bay Maori and Colonial Museum

Main Road | Okains Bay, Christchurch 8161, New Zealand +64 3-304 8611
Excellent
66%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 128 reviews

Okains Bay Maori and Colonial Museum

Reviewed By Martha R - billings, mt

I was there for Waitingi Day, 3 February 2017. This included a formal Powhiri, speeches by Maori representative in Te Reo Maori and response by representative of Royal Navy in dress whites, a sharing the breath ceremony, a hangi lunch, and watching the Waka come in with men rowing and clacking oars in time with person counting cadence in Te Reo Maori. There were women weaving baskets and displaying ornate carved necklaces who had extensive tattoos. It was a fantastic experience that only happens on Waitingi Day, 5 February. The museum houses quite a bit of Maori carvings and a lot about their culture. The Waka is a full sized carved war canoe from the late 1800s. The settlers museum was also interesting.

9. Canterbury Museum

Rolleston Ave, Christchurch 8013, New Zealand +64 3-366 5000
Excellent
57%
Good
36%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 2 reviews

Canterbury Museum

Free entry (donations appreciated) where you can experience New Zealand's rich cultural and natural history heritage. Rare Maori artefacts and the stories behind them will fascinate you. See the famous Paua Shell House recreated in the Museum. Walk down the Christchurch Street and be transported back in time with the sights and sounds of pioneering days. Discover the heroic age of exploration and discovery in the Antarctic subcontinent.

Reviewed By Brian C - Fresno, California

New Zealand has outstanding museums, all at no cost. The Canterbury Museum in Christchurch is no exception. You can spend a very comfortable half day to enjoy all of the exhibits. I particularly recommend the excellent coverage of the great Antarctica explorations that used New Zealand (Christchurch in many cases) as the jumping-off point. The Great War (WW I) for war buffs is also well covered. This museum is a must-see for Christchurch.

10. Coastal Pacific Train

Addington Railway Station | Troup Drive, Christchurch, New Zealand
Excellent
69%
Good
26%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 240 reviews

Coastal Pacific Train

The Great Journeys of New Zealand operate three long distance trains and three inter-island Ferries that take passengers across New Zealand in comfort and style through some of the most scenic areas of the North and South Islands. The Coastal Pacific train travels between Picton & Christchurch in the South Island. It's a dramatic tour of New Zealand's coastline between the Pacific Ocean and the breath-taking Kaikoura ranges. The Coastal Pacific journeys through 22 tunnels, across 175 Bridges and past spectacular wildlife and marine-life. Coastal Pacific services connect with the Interislander ferry at Picton to provide onward travel to and from the capital city, Wellington. The Great Journeys of New Zealand also operate the Northern Explorer (previously the Overlander) between Auckland and Wellington, and the TranzAlpine between Christchurch and Greymouth.

Reviewed By Liz C - Leumeah, Australia

We took the Interislander ferry and boarded the train after we landed at Picton. We travelled to Kaikoura where we met the coach again. The trip went through more parts of the countryside we would not have seen if we had done the journey fully by coach. There was some awe inspiring scenery and the entire trip was fun and relaxing. There was an open carriage on the train to enable photographers to take their photos. There was a cafe carriage on board as well.

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