The Travel Guide to Christchurch for Families© ChristchurchNZ
The Travel Guide to Christchurch for Families

The Travel Guide to Christchurch for Families

© ChristchurchNZ
Article Single Pages©
Article Single Pages©
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How to 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 on the South Island, it’s a place where families can easily embrace nature with nearby penguin colonies to discover and 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.

The Top Family Activities in Christchurch

For more information on each activity, head to the 30 Things to Do in Christchurch with Kids or get a detailed breakdown of the activities that are best suited to babies, toddlers and teens in the family guide to Christchurch below.

The Travel Guide to Christchurch for Families© ChristchurchNZ

What to Do in Christchurch with Toddlers and Babies

With fascinating museums, fabulous playgrounds, amazing art galleries and even a library with activities for developing youngsters, there couldn’t be a better New Zealand destination for young families than Christchurch.

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 (38 Orchard Road, Harewood) 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! What’s more, the all-weather attraction is one of the 20 Things to Do in Christchurch on a Rainy Day.

TranzAlpine and Coastal Pacific Trains

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. Check out tickets Viator and Klook.

Alternatively, the Coastal Pacific Journey from Christchurch to Picton is a stunning coastal ride passing through Kaikoura.

The Margaret Mahy Family Playground

Children’s playgrounds in New Zealand are pretty epic, but The Margaret Mahy Family Playground in Christchurch is on a whole different level! Funky playground equipment, food and coffee vendors with seating, free barbecues, changing rooms and all that good stuff; there’s everything your family needs here for an hour or two… or three… or four! Find The Margaret Mahy Family Playground on the corner of Manchester and Armagh Streets.

More Things to Do in Christchurch with Toddlers and Babies

  • Ride the chairlift and find the fairy doors at Christchurch Adventure Park
  • See the warplanes at the free Air Force Museum
  • Do some city sightseeing on the Christchurch Tramway
  • Learn something new at the Canterbury Museum
  • Enjoy interactive earthquake displays at Quake City
  • Have a splash (and relax) at the He Puna Taimoana Hot Pools
  • Explore the forest on the Riccarton Bush Walk

For more inspiration on what to do in Christchurch with toddlers, check out the 35 Things to Do in Christchurch with Kids.

The Guide to Christchurch for Families©

What to Do in Christchurch with Kids and Teens

Families with older kids and teens will enjoy the adventurous New Zealand spirit found in and around Christchurch.

Christchurch Adventure Park

Christchurch Adventure Park (225 Worsleys Road, Cracroft) 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!

Adrenalin Forest

More active adventures await at Adrenalin Forest (110 Heyders Road, Spencerville). This treetop obstacle course has challenges to tackle for all ages, including flying foxes (ziplines), a Tarzan jump, a wrecking ball, barrels and much more! The obstacle course provides great value for families considering you can easily spend half a day here.

Waka on the Avon

Learn to work together, all while immersing in a cultural experience, in a waka paddling tour on the Avon River. Known in Maori at “Ōtākaro“, the Avon River is not only an iconic feature of Christchurch city but a gorgeous setting for learning to paddle a Maori canoe with Ko Tāne (794 Colombo Street). Enjoy early stories of Canterbury’s local iwi (tribe) and see what it’s like to use the river’s original method of transportation!

More Things to Do in Christchurch with Teens

  • Take a day tour to see New Zealand’s largest blue penguin colony (or cutest alpacas) with Maossie Tours
  • Enjoy family-friendly walks in the Port Hills
  • Take the ferry to Quail Island
  • Explore Mona Vale, Hagley Park or the Botanic Gardens
  • Ride the Christchurch Gondola
  • Experience the thrills of a jet boat or airboat ride with Alpine Jet Thrills.

For more inspiration, head to the 45 Best Things to Do in Christchurch or, of course, the 35 Things to Do in Christchurch with Kids.

The Guide to Christchurch for Families© ChristchurchNZ

Free Things to Do in Christchurch with Kids

Stick to your travel budget with ease thanks to Christchurch’s free family-friendly activities!

Port Hills

Stretch your legs in the Port Hills, either exploring the hilltops of the Godley Head Walk, taking approximately one-hour return to walk the track. Alternatively, hike across open tussock land to the Packhorse Hut offering commanding views and an unbeatable picnic spot. The two-hour walk is better suited for older kids. Note that the track is closed between August and October for the lambing season.

Christchurch’s Beaches

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 300 m (980 ft) pier offering awesome views of the coast.

Air Force Museum of New Zealand

A free attraction that also makes an excellent rainy-day activity, the Air Force Museum of New Zealand (45 Harvard Avenue, Wigram) 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.

More Free Things to Do in Christchurch with Children

  • Explore the Botanic Gardens
  • Let the kids loose at The Margaret Mahy Family Playground
  • Learn something new at the Canterbury Museum
  • Explore the forest on the Riccarton Bush Walk
  • Visit the Christchurch Art Gallery
  • Explore Mona Vale
  • Check out New Zealand’s coolest library, Tūranga.

And that’s just a taste of the free activities in Christchurch for kids. Get much more ideas from our 26 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch.

The Guide to Christchurch for Families©

Indoor Activities – Rainy Days in Christchurch for Families

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.

Quake City

This museum gives visitors a deeper understanding of Christchurch’s recent history of the Canterbury Earthquakes, while also keeping kids engaged with interactive exhibitions. We recommend visiting Quake City (299 Durham Street North) 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.

Indoor Trampoline Parks

Especially if it’s a rainy day, don’t miss the indoor trampoline parks. You have two to choose from, starting with Launch Pad (43 Langdons Road, Papanui), which boasts trampolines for all ages (even toddlers), foam pits, a bouncy dodgeball arena, basketball hoops and a scooter race track. Alternatively, head to MoveX (230 Maces Road, Bromley) not only for their exciting trampoline park but to skate around the ice rink.

Tūranga Library

We know what you’re thinking; The library? Seriously? But wait, Christchurch’s library is pretty darn cool and well worth checking out with curious kids. Tūranga (60 Cathedral Square) has so much going on between its Production Studio with 3D printers to try, as well as sewing and embroidery machines! Or if your kids are 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.

For more rainy day inspiration, check out the 20 Things to Do in Christchurch on a Rainy Day.

The Travel Guide to Christchurch for Families© ChristchurchNZ

Family-Friendly Dining in Christchurch

If you’re not self-catering in Christchurch by following the advice in the Food Shopping Guide to New Zealand and using recommendations from the 10 Best Self-Catering Accommodations in Christchurch, then you’re going to need some dining recommendations. Luckily, there are many family-friendly options in Christchurch!

Family-Friendly Cafes in Christchurch

An easy go-to with little ones in tow is the light-filled Ilex Cafe (Botanic Gardens) with proximity to playgrounds and nice little touches like a self-opening pushchair door and changing rooms in both the men’s and women’s bathrooms. Plus, don’t miss the sensory experience of Park Ranger (114 Riccarton Road, Riccarton) with its lively plant decor and window seats with a view of the ever-interesting goings-on of Riccarton Road. Finally, a guilt-free option and a way to get your “five-a-day” in is to stop by the Barefoot Eatery (20 Welles Street) where everything is entirely plant-based, dairy-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free and free of any additives.

Family-Friendly Restaurants in Christchurch

Swap fast food for the colourful and lively Burger Burger (10 Welles Street) with an excellent kids’ menu and a dedicated children’s play area. Alternatively, Fiddlesticks (Corner of Worcester Boulevard and Montreal Street) is only a stone’s throw away from the Canterbury Museum and Christchurch Art Gallery, offering an easy retreat for crowd-pleasing yet irresistible meals including a kids’ menu for even the fussiest eaters.

Don’t miss the plant-based deli of Greater Good (105 Orbell Street) boasting bistro-style cuisine in the form of burgers, soups, antipasto platters, loaded fries and ciabattas for a reasonable price – a great way to introduce the little ones to a more ethical diet.

Ice Cream Parlours in Christchurch

If there’s one place for ice cream in Christchurch, it’s the punchy Rollickin Dessert Cafe (35 New Regent Street) right on the colourful New Regent Street. Treat the family to, ya know, ice cream and sweet treats – open every day for fun and late-night! For more evening entertainment, take a look at the 10 Things to Do in Christchurch at Night.

We have much more dining recommendations for you over in The Food Guide to Christchurch: Places to Eat & Food Tours.

More About Christchurch for Families

That’s it from the travel guide to Christchurch for families. For more travel tips, take a look at these:

Discover even more family trip tips in The Travel Guide to New Zealand for Families.


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Laura S.

This article has been reviewed and published by Laura, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Laura is a first-class honours journalism graduate and a travel journalist with expertise in New Zealand and South Pacific tourism for over 10 years. She also runs travel guides for five of the top destinations in the South Pacific and is the co-host of over 250 episodes of the NZ Travel Show on YouTube.

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