Bernard Spragg. NZ
Bernard Spragg. NZ

17 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch

© Bernard Spragg. NZ

Free and Cheap Activities in Christchurch

Christchurch is a must-visit destination when travelling in 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 and lots more attractions throughout the city, most travellers want to spend some time here. Wondering what to do in Christchurch in on a budget? To help stick to your budget, we’ve put together this list of free things to do in Christchurch.

For more information on the South Island’s largest city, take a look at Christchurch City – Guide for Backpackers. But for now, let’s go over some of the most affordable “Christchurch things to do”.

1. Go to 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. Check out the Christchurch’s Farmers Market at Riccarton House & Bush every Saturday 9am-1pm. For more markets, see our Cheap Eats in Christchurch.


2. 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 the 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 park and garden is a pretty and easygoing walk to take when hanging out with backpacking buddies.

Location: Just off Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch Central.©

3. Get Educated at the Canterbury Museum – FREE

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 NZ history, art and the natural world.

Location: Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch Central©

4. 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. Entry is approximately NZ$20 per person.

Location: 299 Durham Street North, corner Armagh Street©

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. The beaches are popular for surfing and sunbathing weather permitting, of course. Plus, a walk along Marine Parade offers shops and cafes. Find out more in 10 Free or Cheap Things To Do in New Brighton

Location: New Brighton©

6. Go On the Bridle Path Walk – 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, which is 3 hours return. The Bridle Path Walk starts just below the gondola. If you do want to get to the top via the Christchurch Gondola, however, you can usually get a good deal on Klook.  To get there without a car, Metro Bus number 28 takes you from Central Station to the Gondola base and through to Lyttelton.

Location: 10 Bridle Path Road, Heathcote Valley

Schwede66© Schwede66

7. Go to Quail Island – CHEAP

Probably one of the most underrated Christchurch attractions is Quail Island. A NZ$25 return ferry will take you to Quail Island: where sights include shipwrecks and, errr, former leprosy colony and quarantine station. Not forgetting all the stunning beaches and bushwalks, of course!

Location: take the Ferry from Lyttleton Harbour.©

8. Check Out Brockworth Street Art Gallery – FREE

Not like your average art gallery, Brockworth Street is an art gallery where brick walls are the canvas. This is just a taste of the amount of awesome street art there is to see in Christchurch.

Location: 23 Bartlett Street, Riccarton©

9. Go to a Free Gig at the Darkroom – FREE/CHEAP

Generally running Thursday to Saturday nights, The Darkroom on St Asaph Street puts on free or cheap live music. From Jazz to comedy gigs and everything in between you can’t really predict what will be on at the Darkroom so if you are spending a bit of time in Christchurch, check them out and see if any event tickles your fancy.

Location: 336 St Asaph Street, Christchurch Central

Pexels© Pexels

10. See the 185 Empty White Chairs – FREE

As a memorial to those who lost their lives in the Canterbury Earthquakes, here are 185 empty white chairs covering 185 square metres of lawn. It makes for an interesting memorial worth checking out. One of the most humbling Christchurch attractions for sure.

Location: Corner of Manchester and Kilmore streets, Christchurch Central©

11. Visit Sumner Beach – FREE

Take a bus or drive out to Sumner Beach, one of Christchurch’s suburbs. Stroll on the beach and delve into the caves and archways. Look out for interesting wildlife along the way too! It’s also a great place to grab fish and chips – the proper Kiwi way! And that makes a trip to Sumner beach the most Kiwi of all Christchurch activities.

Location: Sumner Beach©

12. Go to the Air Force Museum of New Zealand – FREE

A “kids favourite” in our list of Christchurch activities. Perhaps this only appeals to a certain taste, but why not see a range of awesome planes for free?! Check out the Air Force Museum of New Zealand right here in Christchurch. They also offer heaps of activities for under NZ$10.

Location: 45 Harvard Avenue, Wigram

Bernard Spragg. NZ© Bernard Spragg. NZ

13. Grab Some Cheap Eats – CHEAP

Every city has its set of eateries that won’t break the bank. Christchurch is just the same with cuisine from all over the world! Check out our Cheap Eats in Christchurch for places to go.

Pexels© Pexels

14. 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. The World Buskers Festival is a popular one, with heaps to see throughout January. For more festivals and events, check out New Zealand Calendar: What’s going on? and Top New Zealand Events in 2021.

Nicole Bratt© Nicole Bratt

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

Despite being in the middle of the South Island’s largest city, the Riccarton Bush Walks transport 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

15 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch©

16. Check Out the Gardens of Halswell Quarry – FREE

What was once 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 No 100 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

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

17. 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 (check out the shuttle on Viator and Tripadvisor), exploring Akaroa can be pretty cheap, especially if you follow the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Akaroa or take a cheap alpaca farm tour with Shamarra Alpaca!

Location: Akaroa

14 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch©

Now That You Have Done Some Free Things to Do in Christchurch …

… Check out these articles:

That’s it for our list of cheap and free things to do in Christchurch. Find more free stuff in the 50 Best Free Things to Do in New Zealand.


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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