Things You Can’t Miss in Christchurch
Welcome to Christchurch! It’s the South Island’s largest city; a bustling hub for art, culture, food, walks, beaches and more! While there’s so much to do in Christchurch, which is outlined in our The Complete Guide to Christchurch, we’ve whittled down the offerings to just 10 Christchurch must-dos!
The activities on this must-do list are a mix of free and affordable activities, but be sure to check out 15 Free or Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch for more ways to experience Christchurch on a budget. There’s so much to do that you’ll want to stay awhile, so get some inspiration in our Christchurch hotels list or other budget accommodation list.
1. Check Out the Botanic Gardens
Christchurch is known as the “Garden City” and for good reason! That’s why the Christchurch Botanic Gardens tops our list of Christchurch must-dos. Not only is it a super accessible activity from the city centre, but it’s also free and has lots to discover! Wander in the rose gardens, find all the water features (there are interactive ones too), do native bush walks or people-watch from under a giant oak tree.
Location: Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch City Centre
2. Do a Double Decker Tour of the City
As well as being the Garden City, Christchurch is also considered the most English city outside of England so there’s nothing more fitting than an open-top double-decker tour. This is a great way to see most of the city sights and learn about Christchurch in a short amount of time.
Location: Tours depart from outside of the Canterbury Museum and Botanic Gardens on Rolleston Avenue with Hassle Free Tours.
3. Take a Trip to Akaroa
Christchurch is definitely not all about the city centre. For those of you with more time, be sure to add Akaroa to your Christchurch travel itinerary! The Akaroa Peninsula is not only considered the “French Town” of New Zealand, but it’s also a mecca for wildlife. As well as walks, great eateries and bike rides, getting out on the Akaroa Harbour is almost guaranteed to give you some sightings of Hector’s dolphins, little blue penguins, seals and seabirds!
Location: Akaroa is 1h25 minutes drive from Christchurch City Centre down State Highway 75. Bus trips and shuttles also depart from Christchurch city.
4. Visit the Canterbury Museum
We can’t resist adding that classic indoor activity to this Christchurch must-do list! The Canterbury Museum is a great place to learn all about the South Island’s largest city, as well as the surrounding region, which is also out of any bad weather and free activity. Take a journey through the Canterbury region from the times of the early wildlife and early settlers called the Maori to the arrival of the Europeans.
Location: Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch City Centre
5. Head to the Port Hills
The Port Hills that skirt the side of Christchurch is the best place to stretch your legs in Christchurch and grab some awesome views. While you have a great deal of choice when it comes to walking or biking tracks, a favourite has to be the Ahuriri Reserve, the Crater Rim walk at Sign of the Bellbird. The 4km (2-mile) track takes about 1h30min to complete one way.
Location: Sign of the Bellbird, Summit Road, Port Hills. A 35-minute drive out of Christchurch City Centre.
6. Take a Trip to Lyttelton and Quail Island
Just through the 1,970m (6,463ft) Lyttelton Tunnel is the quaint suburb of Lyttelton with its harbour being the base for some great boat trips out to Quail Island. After checking out the cafes, bars and boutiques, catch a ferry to Quail Island. Quail Island is not only full of walking tracks with some great photo opportunities, but it also has a fascinating history of being a quarantine island which you’ll have lots of opportunities to learn about on the island. What’s more, the beaches are very tempting on a sunny day.
Location: Lyttelton is a 20-minute drive southeast of the city centre. Lyttelton is part of the Christchurch public transport network.
7. Feast at the Riccarton Farmers’ Market
If there’s only one place you can go to get your foodie experience in Christchurch, it has to be the Riccarton Farmers’ Market. With over 300 stalls, it’s the biggest and most popular farmers’ market in New Zealand. Try some tasty treats and drinks, all produced by passionate locals. Browse for the perfect New Zealand souvenir on the crafts stalls and more. There’s always some form of great entertainment too like live music. For more great places to eat, check out The Foodie Guide to Christchurch.
Location: Every Sunday 9am-2pm, Riccarton Racecourse, Riccarton Park, 146 Racecourse Road Christchurch New Zealand
8. Jump On-board One of the World’s Most Scenic Train Journeys
The TranzAlpine from Christchurch to Greymouth is on many lists as one of the world’s most scenic train journeys. A journey from Christchurch takes you through the Canterbury Plains to the stunning mountainous scenery of the Southern Alps as you go through Arthur’s Pass National Park. You’ll make a quick stop in the middle of Arthur’s Pass before going through the 8.5km Otira Tunnel. You’ll then journey past rainforests and lakes of the West Coast before arriving in Greymouth. Either continue your trip from there or the train soon departs back to Christchurch to enjoy all over again.
Location: Christchurch Railway Station, Addington, Christchurch
9. Go to the Beach
Christchurch has a number of great beaches that we’d love to mention, but if we’re being picky – as is the reason for a must-do list – then we’d say you should definitely check out Sumner Beach! It’s easy to access by public transport or car by being on the edge of the city. Plus, it’s a great place to swim, surf and go for a walk with its interesting arches and caves. The beach is also backed with fish and chips restaurants and ice cream completing the beach experience! Check out 7 Top Surf Breaks in Christchurch.
Location: 20-minutes drive from Christchurch City Centre.
10. Hit New Regent Street
The most photograph-able street in Christchurch is New Regent Street so don’t miss it when on your city exploration adventures! It’s cool, colourful and quirky!
Location: New Regent Street, Christchurch