All-weather and Indoor Activities in Christchurch
While Christchurch is one of the driest cities in New Zealand, it still has plenty of rainy days. No worries, however, as the museums, art gallery, boutique cinemas, cafes, train excursions, wine tours, etc. will keep you dry while still allowing you to make the most of your trip to the big city. Find the right all-weather and indoor attractions for you with this list of things to do in Christchurch on a rainy day.
For more travel advice and rainy day activities, check out The Complete Guide to Christchurch and Christchurch Weather & Climate: What is the Weather Like in Christchurch?
1. Keep Out of the Rain at the Canterbury Museum
While the Botanic Gardens might not be ideal for a rainy day, at least the neighbouring Canterbury Museum is! This free city-centre attraction offers a fascinating insight into the natural and cultural history of the Canterbury region (the region surrounding Christchurch), as well as ever-changing temporary exhibitions. See intricate Maori carvings, learn about Christchurch’s connection to the Antarctic and much more. Check out more activities like this in the 14 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch.
Location: Rolleston Avenue.
2. Do Some Sightseeing on the Christchurch City Tramway
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 Tripadvisor) 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.
3. Experience the Polar Regions at the International Antarctic Centre
As Christchurch is one of the main launch points for travel to the Antarctic, it’s only fitting that it’s home to the International Antarctic Centre (find out more on Viator and Tripadvisor). The indoor attraction is full of interactive activities, such as weathering out an Antarctic storm, meeting huskies, watching a 4D show, riding on an all-terrain Hagglund vehicle, learning about the remote life at the Scott Base as it snows, and the list goes on!
Location: 38 Orchard Road, Harewood, approximately 11km (7 miles) from Christchurch city centre.
4. Visit the Christchurch Art Gallery
A rainy day can easily put us in a grumpy mood, so lighten your spirits with the inspiring art showcased in the Christchurch Art Gallery. The art gallery houses some of the most important art in New Zealand that’s ever-changing making it a worthy rainy day experience for locals and visitors alike. There are free guided tours of the art gallery available daily at 11am and 2pm. The gallery is also open until 9pm on a Wednesday and offers a late-night tour for the occasion. Find out more in the 10 Things to Do in Christchurch at Night.
Location: Corner Worcester Boulevard and Montreal Street.
5. Enjoy a Scenic Train Journey on the TranzAlpine
Watching the weather from the cosy comforts of an enclosed train carriage is all part of the fun on the TranzAlpine (find out more on Viator and Tripadvisor). Often ranked as one of the most scenic train journeys in the world, the TranzAlpine train journey makes a picturesque transition from the lush Canterbury Plains to the mountainous Southern Alps. Either get off for a few hours in Arthur’s Pass in the heart of the Alps or journey all the way to Greymouth for the full experience. Activities like guided hikes in the Arthur’s Pass National Park or sheep farm visits can be organised through Canterbury Trails (Viator and Tripadvisor) and Leisure Tours (Viator and Tripadvisor).
Location: Christchurch Railway Station, Troup Drive, approximately 5km (3 miles) from Christchurch city centre.
6. Take a Tour of the Waipara Wine Region
Who cares what the weather is doing when you’re inside a winery with a glass in your hand?! With that in mind, why not explore one of the South Island’s most underrated wine regions, the Waipara Valley, with one of the wine tours from Christchurch? You’ll be picked up from your accommodation and enjoy a 45-minute journey to the Waipara wine region. Wine tours typically stop by around four specially-selected boutique wineries, either your guide’s favourites or ones curated to fit your group’s taste. Small-group wine tours are available with Leisure Tours (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor), Giles Tours (Viator and Tripadvisor), Canterbury Trails (Viator and Tripadvisor) and Cheeky Wine Tours (Viator and Tripadvisor), while NZSI Tours & Travel (Viator and Tripadvisor) offers private wine tours.
Location: Christchurch accommodation pick-ups available.
7. Visit Quake City
Another museum in Christchurch, Quake City aims to give visitors a deeper understanding of Christchurch’s recent history of the 2010/11 Canterbury earthquakes. We recommend visiting Quake City early in your visit to Christchurch in order to get some perspective of the city and learn about New Zealand’s relationship with earthquakes.
Location: 299 Durham Street North, corner Armagh Street
8. Enjoy Good Food While Watching a Movie at a Boutique Cinema
While going to the cinema doesn’t sound like the most imaginative thing to do on a rainy day, the boutique cinemas in Christchurch offer something different. For instance, Lumière Cinema sits in the grand building of the Christchurch Arts Centre where picking up a cocktail, wine or craft beer from the Bijou Bar with some gourmet chocolates, cheese platter or gelato is all part of the experience. Alternatively, Alice in Videoland not only has a boutique cinema but also has a DVD rental store (yes, really) stocking an unusual range of foreign and art house films to take back to your accommodation in Christchurch. See more experiences like this in the 10 Romantic Activities in Christchurch for Couples.
Location: Lumière Cinema – 26 Rolleston Avenue. Alice in Videoland – 209 Tuam Street.
9. Take a Timeout at a Day Spa
A rainy day in Christchurch might be a good excuse to hit the pause button and relax with a spa treatment. You have some spectacular day spas to choose from, including Lotus at Siam Thai Day Spa amidst the picturesque Swan Lake Gardens. Alternatively, Moss Spa is conveniently located in the city centre and offers an array of spa and beauty treatments in a contemporary yet elegant setting. Or experience the historic charm of the Champs-Élyées Beauty Day Spa providing indulgent treatments in a beautifully resorted 1891 Victorian manor. See more experiences like this in the 10 Luxury Activities in Christchurch.
Location: Lotus at Siam Thai Day Spa – 9 Ernlea Terrace, Cashmere, approximately 4km (3 miles) from Christchurch city centre. Moss Spa – 49A Salisbury Street. Champs-Élyées Beauty Day Spa – 110 Papanui Road, Strowan, Merivale, approximately 3km (2 miles) from Christchurch city centre.
10. Have a Coffee or a Bite to Eat at Christchurch’s Cosy Cafes
And, if all else fails, you can always wait out the rain in 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 evening restaurant recommendations, refer to The Foodie 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.
11. Watch New Zealand’s Biggest Gap Year
If all else fails, you can always get some inspiration for your next epic New Zealand activity by watching New Zealand’s Biggest Gap Year on YouTube. Watch as the team behind NZ Pocket Guide take on 365 Days: 365 Activities in New Zealand! Make sure to subscribe.