Family Activities in Christchurch
It’s easy to enjoy your time together in Christchurch. Family-friendly museums, gorgeous gardens with playgrounds, wildlife experiences and active adventures are a staple of the South Island’s largest city, which we’ll go through for you in this list of the best things to do in Christchurch with kids. After you’ve booked your family accommodation in Christchurch, all you need to do is tick off these activities from the bucket list. There are free things to do, all-weather activities and more to suit a variety of tastes and budgets.
Get help planning your family getaway with The Guide to Christchurch for Families.
1. Explore the Botanic Gardens
Start your visit to the “Garden City” with a visit to one of Christchurch’s most renowned gardens. The Botanic Gardens is an excellent free place to take the little ones, not only to explore an array of themed gardens but for the kids to play at the children’s playground and paddling pool in summer. Feed the birds at the duck ponds, play with the interactive water features, have a picnic or enjoy a sit down at the ilex Cafe by the Visitor Centre. For more gardens to explore with the kids, check out the 10 Beautiful Gardens & Parks in Christchurch.
Location: Access off Rolleston Avenue. Car parks on Riccarton Avenue and Armagh Street. The children’s playground can be found near the Armagh Street car park.
2. Ride the Chairlift, Find the Fairy Doors and Zipline Over the Trees at Christchurch Adventure Park
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 a short walk finding all of the fairy doors on the pine trees or let the kids loose in the kiddies mountain bike park, if you have your own bikes. For older kids, treat them to the Zipline Tour, tackling four epic ziplines with duel-lines to race each other to the bottom! Learn more about Christchurch Adventure Park on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: 225 Worsleys Road, Cracroft, approximately 8km (5 miles) from Christchurch city centre.
3. Do the Treetop Obstacle Course of Adrenalin Forest
More active adventures await at Adrenalin Forest. This treetop obstacle course has challenges to tackle for all ages, including flying foxes (ziplines), a Tarzan jump, wrecking ball, barrels and much more! The obstacle course provides great value for families considering you can easily spend half a day here. Find out more about Adrenalin Forest on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: 110 Heyders Road, Spencerville, approximately 15km (9 miles) from Christchurch city centre.
4. Do a Day Tour to See New Zealand’s Largest Blue Penguin Colony
While Christchurch has a few wildlife attractions that house exotic animals, for a more ethical wildlife experience, join Maossie Tours for a day trip to Akaroa and the Banks Peninsula to see wild little blue penguins in their natural habitat. After a scenic journey along with stops to try artisan food and light refreshments (all included), you’ll arrive for your Pohatu Penguins nature safari to learn about a local family’s conservation efforts and see penguin chicks that are being nursed to health before being released into the wild. Arguably, meeting and feeding the sheep at the homestead is one of the major highlights! For more details on Maossie Tours, check out Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: Departure either from the Canterbury Museum, Rolleston Avenue or from any centrally located Christchurch accommodation.
5. 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 the perfect place to experience the International Antarctic Centre with all sorts of interactive activities. See if you can weather out an Antarctic storm, meet huskies, watch a 4D show, ride on an all-terrain Hagglund vehicle, learn about the remote life at the Scott Base as it snows, and the list goes on! Learn more about the International Antarctic centre on Viator and Tripadvisor. Plus, the all-weather attraction is one of the 10 Things to Do in Christchurch on a Rainy Day.
Location: 38 Orchard Road, Harewood, approximately 11km (7 miles) from Christchurch city centre.
6. Take a Scenic Train Journey to Arthur’s Pass on the TranzAlpine
It’s no secret that kids love trains, so keep them happy while you enjoy the breathtaking views of the TranzAlpine journey. Watch as the Canterbury Plains transition to the mountains and braided rivers of the Southern Alps. Either take a day trip to Arthur’s Pass, the heart of the Southern Alps, to enjoy the area’s short walks before taking the train back to Christchurch or enjoy the journey all the way to Greymouth on the West Coast. Alternatively, the Coastal Pacific Journey from Christchurch to Picton is a stunning coastal ride passing through Kaikoura. Learn more about the TranzAlpine on Viator and Tripadvisor, as well as the Coastal Pacific Journey on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: Christchurch Railway Station, Troup Drive, approximately 5km (3 miles) from Christchurch city centre.
7. Enjoy Family-friendly Walks in the Port Hills
Stick to your travel budget with ease thanks to Christchurch’s free family-friendly activities! Stretch your legs in the Port Hills which offers couple excellent walks recommended for families. Explore the tunnels of a World War Two defence battery on the Godley Head walk, taking approximately one-hour return to walk the track. Alternatively, hike across open tussock-land to the Sign of the Packhorse Hut offering commanding views and an unbeatable picnic spot. The two-hour walk is better suited to older kids. Note that the track is closed between August and October for the lambing season.
Location: Godley Head Walk – Godley Head Road, approximately 22km (14 miles) from Christchurch city centre. Sign of the Packhorse Hut – McQueens Valley Road, approximately 37km (23 miles) from Christchurch city centre.
8. Surf, Swim, Explore and Build Sandcastles at Sumner Beach
If you’re more drawn to the coast than the hills, then you have some spectacular beaches in Christchurch to choose from. Sumner Beach is a popular hot spot with caves to check out, surf lessons available for all ages and abilities, ice cream and fish and chips, or just building sandcastles, if you prefer. Alternatively, New Brighton is a local favourite and features a 300m (980ft) pier offering awesome views of the coast.
Location: Sumner Beach – Main Road, approximately 11km (7 miles) from Christchurch city centre. New Brighton Beach – Marine Parade, approximately 9km (6 miles) from Christchurch city centre.
9. See the Warplanes at the Air Force Museum
A free attraction that also makes an excellent rainy-day activity, the Air Force Museum is bound to amaze and astound the little ones with its display of warplanes. Aside from awesome aircraft displays, the museum hosts regular museum hunts ideal for kids to get them more involved. See more affordable activities in the 14 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch.
Location: 45 Harvard Avenue, Wigram, approximately 10km (6 miles) from Christchurch city centre.
10. Ride the Christchurch City Tram
Step back in time and enjoy this old-worldly transport method around the city. The beautifully restored Christchurch Tramway is a children’s favourite, while parents are also bound to like the fact that kids up to age 15 get to travel for free! It’s a fun way to explore the city where you can hop-on and hop-off as much as you like. Check out and book the Christchurch Tramway on Viator and Tripadvisor.
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.