The Guide to Christchurch for Families
The Guide to Christchurch for Families

The Travel Guide to Christchurch for Families

© ChristchurchNZ

Plan a Family Trip to Christchurch

Christchurch is more than just a big dot on the New Zealand map. The city offers effortless fun for families between its sandy beaches to the tops of the Port Hills and beyond. Despite being the largest city in the South Island, it’s a place where families can easily embrace nature with nearby penguin colonies to discover, amazing walks in the hills or at the beaches. Families with kids of all ages can enjoy the parks and gardens that this city nicknamed the “Garden City” is famous for, while upping the adventure with treetop obstacle courses and zipline tours is also an option. Stay in the family-friendly holiday parks or splurge on a hotel and enjoy the vibrant ambience of Christchurch as a family.

Plan your family trip to the Garden City with this complete travel guide to Christchurch for families.

Things to Do in Christchurch with Kids

  • Explore the Botanic Gardens
  • Ride the chairlifts, find the fairy doors or zipline over the trees at Christchurch Adventure Park
  • Do a the treetop obstacle course of Adrenalin Forest
  • Take a day tour to see New Zealand’s largest blue penguin colony
  • Experience the Polar regions at the International Antarctic Centre
  • Take a scenic train journey to Arthur’s Pass on the TranzAlpine
  • Enjoy family-friendly walks in the Port Hills
  • Surf, swim, explore and build sandcastles at Sumner Beach
  • See the warplanes at the Air Force Museum
  • Ride the Christchurch city tram.

For more details on each experience, see 10 Things to Do in Christchurch with Kids.

The Guide to Christchurch for Families©

Family Adventure Activities

Yes, even in the city there’s the adventurous New Zealand spirit to be found for the whole family to enjoy. A highlight is some of the high-wire adventure attractions, like 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.

Similarly (but different), Christchurch Adventure Park offers an easy way to get views of Christchurch city without the hassle on their fun chairlift rides up the Cashmere Hills. While you’re up there, enjoy a short walk finding all of the fairy doors on the pine trees. 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.

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 the little penguins in rehabilitation before being released into the wild. Arguably, meeting and feeding the sheep at the homestead is one of the major highlights. You’ll see why when you go! For more details on Maossie Tours, check out Viator and Tripadvisor.

For more family-friendly activity suggestions, check out the 10 Things to Do in Christchurch with Kids.

The Guide to Christchurch for Families©

All-weather Family Activities

This is New Zealand, so rainy days come and go. If you find yourself stuck in the rain, no worries! Christchurch offers some pretty cool all-weather attractions for families, starting with the International Antarctic Centre. As Christchurch is one of the main launch points for travel to the Antarctic, it’s the perfect place for this indoor attraction with all sorts of interactive activities. See if you can weather out an Antarctic storm, meet fluffy 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.

Watch the weather weave in and out of the mountains while keeping warm and cosy in the carriages of the TranzAlpine. It’s hardly news that kids love trains, so keep them happy while you enjoy the breathtaking views of the Canterbury Plains transitioning 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.

For more rainy day inspiration, check out the 10 Things to Do in Christchurch on a Rainy Day.

The Guide to Christchurch for Families© ChristchurchNZ

Free Family Activities

Stick to your travel budget with ease thanks to Christchurch’s free family-friendly activities! Stretch your legs in the Port Hills, either exploring the tunnels of a World War 2 defence battery on the Godley Head walk or hiking to across open tussock-land to the Sign of the Packhorse Hut with commanding views.

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.

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 for kids.

For more budget activities, check out the 14 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch.

More About Christchurch

That’s it from the travel guide to Christchurch for families. Discover even more family trip tips in The Travel Guide to New Zealand for Families.


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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