The Best Things To Do In Christchurch

Written By: Claire Hollands

Located a short flight away from Auckland, Christchurch is a unique destination. From the urban landscape and city amenities to the rich history and culture that is found every step of the way, visitors to this beautiful area of New Zealand will have no shortage of options when it comes to creating an itinerary. Whether you’re just staying for the weekend or spending most of your time here, you’ll have plenty to see and do. The picture-perfect alps and ocean landscape make it an exceptional destination – all within a short drive of everything!

The city of Christchurch has a great vibe and plenty of cultural buzz to keep things interesting – whether you want to spend the day exploring art galleries and museums or you plan to get out and hike, you can do it all in this New Zealand city! Start off a visit to Christchurch with a trip to Melton Estate, which is a boutique winery only ten minutes from the airport – a great option to set the tone for a relaxing few days around the city. Shopping is very popular in Christchurch and the assortment of shoppes and offerings makes it fun for everyone. Scattered amongst the many retail shoppes and boutiques are breweries, bars, cafés and restaurants, so you’ll never be hungry!

Christchurch has beautifully combined historic with modern architecture and demand – it’s totally visible in The Tannery, which is a shopping destination with plenty of contemporary and unique finds. Browse the many local clothing boutiques or pick up some handcrafted goods from one of the eclectic shoppes. Once you’ve had your fill of shopping, The Brewery serves up a vast assortment of crafted brews using many of the same, old world brewing techniques.

While you’re in the area, you’re definitely going to want to get out and explore! Hop onto the TranzAlpine Express that goes to Arthur’s Pass – the views from this train ride are second to none. Christchurch also has a number of walking trails, botanic gardens and outdoor recreation when you want to escape from the city for a few hours – or longer.


TranzAlpine Train

Take a full day tour on the TranzAlpine Train, to see and experience the rugged beauty of New Zealand. Departing at 8:15am, this train crosses the Canterbury Plains, traverses the Southern Alps and reaches the west coast town of Greymouth. Take advantage of the open-air carriage for photos and capture the vast expanse of the countryside. Explore this historic gold mining town before commencing your return journey at 2:15pm, arriving back in Christchurch at 6:30pm.


Christchurch Tramway

Trundle your way through Christchurch on the historic Christchurch Tramway, to get your bearings of the city. It leaves from Cathedral Square and takes you on a tour throughout the city, with on board commentary provided as you just relax and take in the sights. There are 17 stops at the city’s landmarks, and a day ticket allows you to hop on and off as you wish. You can even come back for an evening meal on the Tramway Restaurant!


Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Take time out to enjoy the natural beauty of this garden city, with a stroll around the best garden, in a city which is renowned for its gardens, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens! You will see a multitude of exotic and indigenous plants as you meander along tree lined walkways. There are also conservatories scattered through the gardens that display the unexpected, such as tropical and desert plants!


International Antarctic Centre

At the International Antarctic Centre, you don’t just see the Antarctic, you experience it! Face an ice storm, ride on a Hagglund all-terrain-vehicle, and see the Little Blue Penguins on display. You will learn about life in Antarctica and the explorers that have travelled there. For a special day, purchase a Penguin Backstage Pass and get up close to these incredible creatures. It can get cold, and chill proof gear is provided.


Akaroa Harbour

Seventy-five kilometres from Christchurch lies the beautiful Akaroa Harbour, famous for its eco-tourism and French history. Take a cruise and see the marine life, including dolphins, seals and penguins – you can get even closer if you kayak or snorkel! Take in the spectacular scenery, and when you’ve finished your eco-experience, enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants; particularly renowned for its French cuisine.


Arthur’s Pass National Park

Nestled in the Southern Alps and a popular day trip from Christchurch, the Arthur’s Pass National Park is ideal for walking in summertime and skiing in the winter. At the visitor centre, work out which walk is best for you – there are easy walks that take in spectacular views, but the long treks (tramping) are best for experienced hikers; these walks are not fully marked and can include river crossings – a must for the experienced “tramper”.


Christchurch Gondola

The Christchurch Gondola is a magical way to get your bearings in this beautiful region of New Zealand. The ten-minute ride to the top of Mt Cavendish brings 360-degree views, taking in the Canterbury Plains, the Southern Alps and the Banks Peninsula. Take the time at the summit to enjoy a walk or a bike ride and grab meal at the café.


Church of the Good Shepherd

A visit to Lake Tekapo really needs to include a visit to the historic Church of the Good Shepherd. Built in 1935 from local materials, this church makes for a picture-perfect post-card photo, with the backdrop of mountains, the lake, and the unique interior. It is well worth the visit as part of your trip to Lake Tekapo.


Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

The Willowbank Wildlife Reserve provides a day of fun, while displaying the conservation lessons of the past, and the solutions for the future. See a wide range of native and exotic animals, meet the lemurs, and visit the farmyard to see the majestic Clydesdale horses, llamas, and all their farm friends. Make it a very special day, and visit in the evening for cultural performances, a tour of a Maori village, and a hangi feast.


Waipara Springs Winery

A short hours’ drive from Christchurch, this family owned winery produces white and red wines from some of the oldest vines in the region. Take a leisurely day and taste the wines and have a delicious meal at the café. The wines can be purchased at the cellar door and a visit to the Waipara Springs Winery is a wonderful way to experience this important industry.



A gorgeous seaside destination, Kaikoura is located on the South Island, offering easy access to various parts of the region, as well as a number of amazing activities to do during any length of stay! The peninsula location also makes it wonderful for watching wildlife!


Mount Hutt

Even though the warmer months are ideal for travel, those who love the snow are in luck! Mount Hutt – located just west of the Canterbury Plains in South Island – offer a dream layout for skiers and snowboarders. Aside from the welcoming alpine feel, Mount Hutt has a summit of 2190 metres.

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