Discover Christchurch | The best activities in the garden city

As the largest city on the south island of New Zealand, Christchurch has lots to offer. 

First settled by Māori tribes and known in their language as Ōtautahi, Christchurch has been treasured by many groups of people since. Also known as the garden city, this city is a great place to enjoy the outdoors. Despite the devastating earthquakes in 2011 and 2012, as well as the coronavirus pandemic, Christchurch has thrived as a popular tourist destination. Here are some of the best things to do in Christchurch.


Path surrounded by flowers
© Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Wander through the Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Stretching over 21 hectares, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens are quite spectacular. With a single oak tree planted in 1863 to commemorate the marriage of Prince Albert and Princess Alexandra of Denmark, the gardens were founded along the Avon River. Several gardens and conservatories span over the property, each home to a different collection of plants. Admission is free, making this attraction accessible to all who want to admire it. Visiting the Christchurch Botanic Gardens is definitely a must when visiting the garden city.  


Avon River


Paddle the Avon River

Flowing right through the heart of Christchurch, the Avon River is a beautiful addition to Christchurch’s geography. Many companies rent out kayaks, canoes, paddle boards, and tubes to tourists and locals looking to take a trip down the river. Several entry points are available, all offering different difficulty, lengths, and scenery. Gondola rides are also available in the downtown area for a relaxing trip if you do not wish to paddle yourself. No matter your skill level, Avon will have something to offer.


View over Christchurch from gondola


View the scenery from above in the Christchurch Gondola

For some of the best views of Christchurch, the Gondola is the way to go. Just a 15-minute drive from the center of the city, the 4-seat cabins take you far above the ground for views of the Canterbury Plains, the Southern Alps, Pegasus Bay, the cityscape, and more. Once you finish your ride, follow the mountain walking tracks for a bit of exercise and even more beautiful views. Then finish your day with a ride on the time tunnel, free with your gondola ticket, to learn about the area’s history. 


© 100% Pure New Zealand

Explore the arctic at the International Arctic Centre

Conveniently located near the airport in Christ Church, the International Arctic Centre is a great place for a family outing. The exhibits will allow you to experience the arctic as if you are really there. Experience an Arctic storm and learn what it is really like to live and work in the arctic. The centre is passionate about conservation, so fun education is an important part of the experience. Walking through the centre, you will find a new experience behind each corner.


man on rope course
© 100% Pure New Zealand

Get your adrenaline going at Adrenalin Forest Christchurch

The Adrenaline Forest is a six-level obstacle course within the trees. Get strapped in and begin your journey up the 20-meter course with over 100 activities. Navigate obstacles and fly down zip lines to reach the end of the course, and don’t forget to take in the beauty of the tree canopy. Options are available for the more cautious participants to the biggest thrill-seekers. This is truly an exciting way to take on Christchurch.


man busking in front of crowd
© Deon Swiggs

Be entertained at the World Buskers Festival

Each January, some of the world’s most talented and brave street performers gather at the World Buskers Festival in Christchurch to perform and compete for the Iron Chicken Awards and $2,500. There is lots to see with several categories titled Ha ha ha, Ta da, La la la, Ouch, and Wow. Grab some food from the surrounding vendors and settle in to witness shows of all sorts. The festival lasts 11 days and runs from 11 am to midnight, giving you lots of time to witness the action.


© 100% Pure New Zealand

Take in some history with the Ko Tane Māori Experience

The Māori culture is a very important aspect of New Zealand’s past and present. The Ko Tane Māori Experience will both entertain you and inform you. The interactive village will help you to gain a deeper understanding of the Te Ao Māori. Watch performances including poi and ceremonial dances, songs, weapons displays, and stick games, and learn some of the dances yourself. Finish the experience with traditional Māori foods. The whole family will learn from and be entertained during this experience.

If you are interested in the World Buskers Festival and want to find more festivals around New Zealand, click here.


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