26 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch [2023]© ChristchurchNZ
26 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch [2023]

26 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch [2023]

© ChristchurchNZ

What Can You Do for Free (or Cheap) in Christchurch?

Christchurch is a must-visit destination when travelling around New Zealand, there’s no doubt about it. With heaps of work opportunities for people on a working holiday visa, as well as artwork, gardens, beaches, museums and many more attractions throughout the city, most travellers want to spend some time here. Wondering what to do in Christchurch on a budget? To help save some cents, we’ve put together this list of free and cheap things to do in Christchurch!

For more information on experiencing the South Island’s largest city on the cheap, take a look at The Travel Guide to Christchurch on a Budget and Christchurch City – Guide for Backpackers. But for now, let’s go over some of the most affordable things to do in Christchurch.

1. Take a Stroll Through Hagley Park and the Botanic Gardens – FREE

Find out why they call Christchurch the “Garden City”. It seems like every time you walk through Hagley Park and the Botanic Gardens, there’s something new to discover! If grand water fountains are your thing – we don’t know if it’s anyone’s thing but this one is pretty cool – then you’ll love the restored peacock fountain found in Christchurch’s Botanic Gardens. Walking through the adjacent Hagley Park is a pretty and easygoing way to relax with family, friends or your travel mates. Learn more about these gardens and others in the 10 Beautiful Gardens & Parks in Christchurch.

Location: Just off Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch city centre.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

2. Get Educated at the Canterbury Museum – FREE

[Update: The Rolleston Avenue Canterbury Museum is closed for redevelopment during 2023 (but there’s a cool street art gallery in its place). A pop-up museum is available from mid-2023 at 66 Gloucester Street].

A walk through Botanic Gardens will lead you to Canterbury Museum; the token attraction to visit if you are on a budget (or have no money at all as it is free). Learn about the natural and social history of the Canterbury region (the region of Christchurch) through vivid displays and check out the quirky living room made out of paua shells!

Location: 11 Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch city centre.

NZPocketGuide.com© PocketGuide.com

3. Experience One of the Many Markets – FREE

From arts and crafts to jams and jewellery, Christchurch hosts markets across the city all year round. Checking out the stalls while often listening to live music sure beats your supermarket shop! A list of markets for Christchurch looks a little something like this:

  • Christchurch Farmers Market (Saturday morning, Riccarton House and Bush)
  • Christchurch Night Market (Thursday, 6-11 pm, The Hub Hornby)
  • The Riccarton Markets (Sunday, 9 am – 2 pm, Riccarton Park)
  • New Brighton Seaside Market (Saturday, 10 am – 2 pm, 25 Brighton Mall)
  • Lyttelton Market (Saturday, 10 am – 1 pm, London Street).

Finally, if you’re not visiting on a weekend, then head to the Riverside Market which is an indoor market venue open seven days a week! For more markets, see our The Food Guide to Christchurch.

Location: All over Christchurch! Riverside Market – 96 Oxford Terrace. Other market locations are stated above.

17 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch© ChristchurchNZ

4. Enjoy the Bridle Path Walk Through the Port Hills – FREE

Who needs to pay for a gondola up the Port Hills when you have two working legs (and a tight wallet)? Remarkable views of Christchurch can be enjoyed from the Bridle Path Walk. The 3-hour return Bridle Path Walk starts just below the Christchurch Gondola.

Location: 10 Bridle Path Road, Heathcote Valley, approximately 9.5 km (5.9 mi) from Christchurch city centre. To get there without a car, Metro Bus 28 takes you from Central Station to the Christchurch Gondola base and through to Lyttelton.

30 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch [2023]© ChristchurchNZ

5. Walk Out to Sea on New Brighton Pier – FREE

In fact, there are quite a few things to do in the New Brighton suburb that we list a whole bunch in the 10 Free & Cheap Things To Do in New Brighton. Other than walking along the 300 m (980 ft) New Brighton Pier, the beaches are popular for surfing and sunbathing weather permitting, of course. Plus, a walk along Marine Parade offers shops and cafes.

Location: New Brighton, approximately 9 km (5.6 mi) from Christchurch city centre.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

6. Relax in the He Puna Taimoana Hot Pools – CHEAP

If you don’t go to New Brighton for the pier, at least go for a rejuvenating soak in the He Puna Taimoana Hot Pools. The complex features five saltwater hot pools ranging from 26°C to 40°C (79-104°F). The hot pools are around NZ$20. Special sunrise sessions are also available on selected days to enhance the experience!

Location: New Brighton, approximately 9 km (5.6 mi) from Christchurch city centre.

30 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch [2023]© ChristchurchNZ

7. Check Out Christchurch’s Famous Street Art and the Brockworth Street Art Gallery – FREE

Not like your average art gallery, Brockworth Street Art Gallery is an art gallery where brick walls are the canvas, but that’s not all Christchurch has to offer when it comes to street art. This is just a taste of the amount of awesome street art there is to see in Christchurch:

  • Riverside Mural (Lichfield Street)
  • Kaikiaki Mural (YMCA Building, Hereford Street)
  • Three Lips Mural (Peterborough Street)
  • Tui and Titipounamu (Lichfield Street)
  • Alice in Wonderland (Tuam Street)
  • Kowhai and Silvereye (Ibis Hotel, Hereford Street)…

Location: Just off 33 Riccarton Road, Riccarton, between Mobil Riccarton and the railway line, approximately 3.5 km (2.2 mi) from Christchurch city centre. 

30 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch [2023]© NZPocketGuide.com

8. Check Out the Air Force Museum of New Zealand – FREE

Experience New Zealand’s aviation history through the magnificent aeroplane exhibitions of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand. A diverse collection of planes and aviation memorabilia is scattered through diverse exhibition rooms and hangers – all of which are free to visit! Affordable additions to your visit include Behind the Scenes Tours, a Mosquito Mission flight simulator and a scavenger hunt.

Location: 45 Harvard Avenue, Wigram, approximately 9 km (5.6 mi) from Christchurch city centre. 

30 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch [2023]© NZPocketGuide.com

9. Explore the Forest on the Riccarton Bush Walk – FREE

Despite being in the middle of the South Island’s largest city, the Riccarton Bush Walk transports you to the wild side of New Zealand. Set behind the historic settler’s cottage, Deans Cottage, there are two short walks (15-minute and 30-minute return) winding through dense stands of kahikatea. Look out for fantails (piwakawaka), silvereyes (tauhou), grey warblers (riroriro) and wood pigeons (kereru).

Location: Walks start from Riccarton House, 16 Kahu Road, Riccarton, approximately 4 km (2.3 mi) from Christchurch city centre.

30 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch [2023]© Nancy Zhou - ChristchurchNZ

10. Do Some Sightseeing on the Christchurch City Tramway – CHEAP

Step back in time and enjoy this old-worldly transport method of getting around the inner city. The beautifully restored Christchurch Tramway (more info on Viator and Klook) is a fun way to explore the city where you can hop-on and hop-off as much as you like. What’s more, families will be pleased to find that kids get to ride for free! Check out more experiences like this in the 10 Things to Do in Christchurch with Kids.

Location: You can get on the tram at any of its 17 stops. The easiest to find is along Rolleston Avenue near the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch city centre.

30 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch [2023]© NZPocketGuide.com

11. Visit the Christchurch Art Gallery – FREE

Whether you’re trying to avoid a rainy day or simply want an uplifting experience, the inspiring art at the Christchurch Art Gallery is sure to suit! The art gallery houses some of the most important art in New Zealand that’s ever-changing making it an experience for locals and visitors alike. There are free guided tours of the art gallery available daily at 11 am and 2 pm. The gallery is also open until 9 pm on Wednesday and offers a late-night tour for the occasion. For more all-weather activities, check out the 20 Things to Do in Christchurch on a Rainy Day.

Location: Corner of Worcester Boulevard and Montreal Street, Christchurch city centre.

30 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch [2023]© NZPocketGuide.com

12. Walk or Kayak Along the Avon River – FREE/CHEAP

The Avon River meanders through the centre of Christchurch. The walkway along the banks is a great way to see some of the city highlights, such as the Antigua Boat Sheds, the Bridge of Remembrance, the Worcester Street Bridge, the Kate Sheppard National Memorial, the Oi Manawa Canterbury Earthquake Memorial and much more. There are many entries and exit points along the river to make the walk as short or as long as you like.

Although the walk is free, if you can spare around NZ$15-$20 an hour, there’s also the option to explore the Avon River by kayak.

Location: Montreal Street, Cashel Street, Hereford Street and more from Christchurch city centre. Kayaks are available to hire from the Antigua Boat Sheds, 2 Cambridge Terrace.

30 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch [2023]© ChristchurchNZ

13. Explore Mona Vale – FREE

A picturesque English-style garden, Mona Vale is an easy walk or bus trip from the city centre and well worth the visit. The garden once belonged to Annie Townend, who was thought to be the richest woman in New Zealand during her time. See plantings of English and European trees and flowers surrounding a conservatory and homestead.

Location: 40 Mona Vale Avenue, Riccarton, approximately 4 km (2.4 mi) from Christchurch city centre.

30 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch [2023]© ChristchurchNZ

14. Hit New Regent Street – FREE

The most photographable street in Christchurch is New Regent Street so don’t miss it when on your city exploration adventures! It’s cool, colourful and quirky! We consider the street one of the romantic experiences you can add to the 10 Romantic Things to Do in Christchurch.

Location: New Regent Street, Christchurch city centre.

30 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch [2023]© NZPocketGuide.com

15. Ride the Chairlift to the Christchurch Adventure Park – CHEAP

Christchurch Adventure Park offers an easy way to get views of Christchurch city without the effort thanks to their chairlift rides up the Cashmere Hills. When you get to the top, enjoy short walks through the pine trees or cycle some trails if you have your own bike (although there’s an extra fee to transport bikes on the chairlift).

Location: 225 Worsleys Road, Cracroft, approximately 8 km (5 mi) from Christchurch city centre.

30 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch [2023]© Christchurch Adventure Park

16. Visit Quake City – CHEAP

This museum gives visitors a deeper understanding of Christchurch’s recent history of the Canterbury Earthquakes. We recommend visiting Quake City early in your visit to Christchurch in order to put things into perspective as you’re bound to witness the redevelopment of this city even several years later. Entry is approximately NZ$20 per person, while children go free if accompanied by an adult.

Location: 299 Durham Street North, corner Armagh Street, Christchurch city centre.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

17. Take the Ferry to Quail Island  – CHEAP

Probably one of the most underrated Christchurch attractions is Quail Island. A NZ$35 return ferry (approximately) will take you to Quail Island where sights include shipwrecks, historical sites and, errr, a former leprosy colony and quarantine station… Not forgetting all the stunning beaches and bushwalks, of course!

Location: Take the Ferry from Lyttleton Harbour, approximately 13 km (8 mi) from Christchurch city centre.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

18. Check Out the Gardens of Halswell Quarry – FREE

What was once a quarry used for the development of Christchurch has been transformed into an attractive recreational area. Halswell Quarry is located on the edge of the city, easy to find if driving along Kennedys Bush Road or taking the 100 Metro Bus to Halswell and Kennedys Bush. Enjoy a myriad of short walks around the old quarry which features six sister-city gardens and a Canterbury botanical collection.

Location: Kennedy’s Bush Road, Halswell, approximately 12 km (7.5 mi) from Christchurch city centre.

15 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch© Kiss Digital on Wikipedia

19. Visit Sumner Beach – FREE

Take a bus or drive out to Sumner Beach, one of Christchurch’s suburbs. Not only is this a sandy oasis to explore but the beach also has caves and archways to discover. Look out for interesting wildlife, grab some fish and chips or ice cream and enjoy a day at the beach the Kiwi way!

Location: Main Road, Sumner Beach, approximately 12 km (7.5 mi) from Christchurch city centre.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

20. Check Out New Zealand’s Coolest Library – FREE

We know what you’re thinking; The library? Seriously? But wait, Christchurch’s library is pretty damn cool and an ideal getaway on a rainy day. Tūranga has so much going on between its Production Studio with 3D printers to try, as well as sewing and embroidery machines! Or if you’re into a different type of crafting, see their Audio/Video Studio or Creative Space for the latest art workshops. There’s a cafe on-site and, oh yeah, there are books too.

Location: 60 Cathedral Square, Christchurch city centre.

30 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch [2023]© ChristchurchNZ

21. Test Your Skills at an Indoor Climbing Wall – CHEAP

If you’ve come to the South Island to experience its adventurous side, then let the adventure continue whatever the weather at one of Christchurch’s indoor climbing walls. The YMCA has challenging walls with the classic ropes, harnesses and shoes, as well as a Clip ‘n Climb which is ideal for kids and beginners. Alternatively, try bouldering at the dedicated bouldering centre, Uprising.

Location: YMCA – 12 Hereford Street, Christchurch Central. Uprising – 199 Ferry Road, Waltham, approximately 3 km (2 mi) from Christchurch city centre.

30 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch [2023]© NZPocketGuide.com

22. Soak in the Views at Godley Head or the Sign of the Packhorse Tracks – FREE

Another place to stretch your legs in the Port Hills, take in the amazing views on the Godley Head walk, taking approximately one hour-return to complete the loop track. Alternatively, hike across open tussock land to the Sign of the Packhorse Hut offering commanding views and an unbeatable picnic spot, taking around two hours. Note that the track is closed between August and October for the lambing season.

Location: Godley Head Walk – Godley Head Road, approximately 22 km (14 mi) from Christchurch city centre. Sign of the Packhorse Hut – McQueens Valley Road, approximately 37 km (23 mi) from Christchurch city centre.

30 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch [2023]© ChristchurchNZ

21. Bargain-Hunt at The Tannery – FREE/CHEAP

Christchurch is full of amazing shopping experiences but one that sticks out for its striking architecture and bargain-hunter-pleasing thrift shopping is the restored Victorian Tannery, affectionately known as The Tannery. It’s a place for bargain-hunters, fashionistas and eco-warriors alike with around 60 enticing fashion stores, bookshops, secondhand shops, homeware and fabric vendors, health and beauty stores and, of course, cafes.

Location: 3 Garlands Road, Woolston, approximately 6 km (4 mi) from Christchurch city centre.

30 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch [2023]© ChristchurchNZ

22. Grab Some Cheap Eats – CHEAP

Every city has its set of eateries that won’t break the bank and Christchurch is no different. Try the best souvlaki from Dimitris Greek Food, tantalise your tastebuds with Moroccan food from Mosaic by Simo, demolish an oversized gourmet burger from Slick Burgers and much more. Check out our Cheap Eats in Christchurch for places to go.

Location: Dimitris Greek Food – 96 Oxford Street. Mosaic by Simo – No. 3/300 Lincoln Road, Addington. Slick Burgers – 254 Ferry Road, Phillipstown.

30 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch [2023]© ChristchurchNZ

23. Have a Coffee or a Bite to Eat at Christchurch’s Cosy Cafes – CHEAP

And, if you need something to do during the morning or afternoon, you can always rely on one of Christchurch’s cafes. Some noteworthy mentions include Little Pom’s for its brunch staples with a creative twist, Black Betty Cafe for its array of coffee brew methods, and Unknown Chapter Coffee Roasters for its stylish light-filled space and in-house roasted coffee. Outside of the city centre, Hello Sunday has one of the most unique and diverse brunch menus in the city, while Addington Coffee Co-op roasts its own fairtrade coffee and offers ethically-minded eating. For more recommendations, refer to The Food Guide to Christchurch.

Location: Little Pom’s – 294 Kilmore Street. Black Betty Cafe – 165 Madras Street. Unknown Chapter Coffee Roasters – 254 Saint Asaph Street. Hello Sunday – 6 Elgin Street, Sydenham. Addington Coffee Co-op – 297 Lincoln Road, Addington.

30 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch [2023]© Nancy Zhou - ChristchurchNZ

24. Go to a Free Gig or Pub Quiz at Darkroom – FREE/CHEAP

Generally running Thursday to Saturday nights, Darkroom on St Asaph Street puts on free or cheap live music, as well as other evening events like pub quizzes. From jazz to comedy gigs and everything in between you can’t really predict what will be on at Darkroom so if you are spending a bit of time in Christchurch, check them out and see if any event tickles your fancy. Plus, for more nighttime antics, take a look at the 10 Things to Do in Christchurch at Night.

Location: 336 St Asaph Street, Christchurch city centre.

Pexels© Pexels

25. Catch a Free Festival – FREE

If you happen to be in Christchurch at the right time, you might just catch one of the free events and festivals that occur every single year. New Year’s in Hagley Park, the Matariki festival of Tirama Mai in Victoria Square, some of the events of The Bread & Circus Festival (World Buskers Festival), and more. For more festivals and events, check out our New Zealand Calendar: What’s Going On? and Top New Zealand Events This Year.

Location: All over Christchurch!

30 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch [2023]© ChristchurchNZ

26. Take a Trip to Akaroa – CHEAP

And if all else fails, you can always leave Christchurch… But in all seriousness, Christchurch is close to some amazing day trips or overnight stays – a highlight being Akaroa. The town was home to French settlers during the 19th Century, which still shines through this French-themed town, from its street names to the French-style bakeries. Aside from the fuel or shuttle to get there, exploring Akaroa can be pretty cheap, especially if you follow the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Akaroa. For more trips to take, check out The Best Day Trips from Christchurch.

Location: Akaroa, approximately 80 km (50 mi) from Christchurch city centre.

30 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch [2023]© NZPocketGuide.com

More Free and Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch

That’s it for our list of cheap and free things to do in Christchurch. For more handy tips to plan your trip, check these out:

Finally, find more free stuff in the 50 Best Free Things to Do in New Zealand.

Author

Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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