🚗 self-drive itinerary
🛏️ minimum 2 night stay recommended
🍽️ dining suggestions offered
📅 visit any time of year
Christchurch is an energetic city, where vibrant creativity and innovation thrives. The serene Ōtākaro/Avon River meanders through the innovative inner-city projects, amazing street art, and state-of-the-art architecture.
Highlights can include:
- discover the Air Force Museum of New Zealand, engage with stories that shaped our military aviation and reflect on the service and sacrifice of thousands who have served ✈️
- view iconic Peacock Fountain before exploring the rich cultural and natural heritage at the Canterbury Museum ⛲🔎
- admire The Cardboard Cathedral, the world’s only cathedral made substantially of cardboard acting as a transitional church while the ChristChurch Cathedral is restored to its former glory ⛪
- glide gently to the top of the Port Hills, almost 500 metres above sea level on the Christchurch Gondola for dramatic views 🚠📸
- set adjacent to the city centre, Hagley Park is popular for recreation and relaxing and also for the Christchurch Botanic Gardens renowned for its beautiful trees 🌲🌳🌸🌼🌹
- race through the valley on a dual zip-line tour or tackle the hand-built mountain bike trails at Adventure Park, or simply take in the stunning views from the chairlift or walking track 🚵
- home to an exciting range of boutique businesses New Regent Street is a stunning heritage setting, the perfect place to relax and indulge 🛍️🍽️☕
- New Zealand's only open range zoo Orana Wildlife Park provides the chance to see exotic wildlife from around the world - meet gorilla and orang-utan or travel through Lion Reserve 🦁🦍🐾
- get an insight into New Zealand's plants, animals and birdlife at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve and take the opportunity to see Ko Tāne Maori Culture Performance and taste a hāngi 🐾🍽️
- take a seat, get comfortable and admire the changing face of the city centre from the Avon River aboard an authentic expertly guided Edwardian Punting on the Avon experience
- visit ‘Antarctica’ the snow and ice experience, survive an Antarctic Storm, learn about life in modern day Antarctica and Scott Base, and hang out with Little Blue Penguins at the International Antarctic Centre 🇦🇶
- experience the story of a flourishing city and how Christchurch bravely rose from the rubble on the Red Bus Rebuild Tour and visit Quake City to learn stories of heroism, hope and loss from the Canterbury earthquakes of 2011 and 2012 ⚠️
- escape the city for a half-day freedom walk on Quail Island in Lyttelton Harbour after a brief adventure on a ferry ⛴️
enjoy the elegant setting of a bygone era at Riccarton House + Bush which is set against extensive native bush, bordered by the Ōtākaro / Avon River and flanked by beautiful open parkland and ornate gardens 🏡
- journey in style through the changing ace of the city centre on board beautifully restored heritage Christchurch Trams 🚋
- visit the poignant 185 Empty Chairs memorial that reflects on the loss of lives, livelihood and living following the earthquake of 22nd February 2011
- go swimming at Sumner, a sandy beach with a beach promenade that is perfect for a stroll; or continue around the coast to surfing favourite Taylors Mistake and wander the coastal track wildlife spotting in Godley Head Recreational Reserve 🐚🌊🏄
- go sliding, swinging, balancing, climbing, jumping, imagining at Margaret Mahy Playground, the largest playground in the Southern Hemisphere that's bound to be a hit with anyone under the age of 13 years 👪
- find The Tannery, a stunning reinvented industrial precinct converted to a boutique retail and arts emporium home to a quirky, eclectic mix of owner-operated and specialist shops that you won't find anywhere else - there is not a chain store in sight! 🛍️🍽️☕
He Tāngata showcases Māori culture through performance, choreographing one of the most intense, electrifying examples of Kapa Haka you have seen in New Zealand’s only official national marae
AT A GLANCE
📍 # of Visitors5.0
🌦️ Chance of Rain2.5
👨👩👦👦 Family Fun 7.0
🍽️ Food + Wine 6.5
🏳️🌈 LGBTQI+ friendly 👍
Note: the highest possible score is an 8.0
🎥video courtesy of the Christchurch City Council on YouTube
it back and relax. We've planned it all for you.
Day 1 : Arrive in Christchurch City
Upon arrival into Christchurch City, by either road, scenic rail journey, or by flying into Christchurch Airport, you'll check in to your accommodation, settle in and get acquainted with your surroundings for the next 2 nights.
Christchurch is geographically very flat in the city centre, so in order to get your bearings I encourage you to venture up the Port Hills via the Christchurch Gondola. Up here you'll get a new appreciation for the area and a sense of the lay of the land. Plus Lyttelton Harbour is beautiful from up here.
Alternatively, for the most active among us, you might want to get high above the city in Adventure Park before tackling a mountain bike trail, or zip-lining back down the trails.
After your visit here, continue out into the suburbs to Sumner beach for an ice cream or a stroll along the promenade, or venture a little further to prime surf spot Taylor's Mistake where if you're feeling active you walk part of the coastal track.
On your way back to the city, make sure you stop in The Tannery and be blown away by the unique setting of this great little retail shopping featuring shops you won't find any where else as well a boutique cinema and some pretty great places to wine and dine.
Day 2 : new places pop up every day
Today we'll focus on the city centre itself, which can easily be explored on foot. Start at New Regent Street, one of the streetscapes that survived the recent earthquakes relatively unscathed. The art deco colourful street is home to interesting shops and eateries. Nearby, you'll find Cathedral Square where restorations of the Christ Church Cathedral is under way. Hop on and off the Christchurch Tram and travel in style across city passing new architecture and amazing street art.
You'll want to pop in to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and stroll through Hagley Park to get an understanding as why the city is often dubbed 'the garden city'. The authentic Edwardian Punting on the Avon experience is a great relaxed way to explore, and will likely Nearby Peacock Fountain is always worth a photo, and the Canterbury Museum can also be worth a look, especially if you want to get a look inside the Paua Shell House of Bluff which has been recreated inside the museum, and is wonderfully kitsch. Quake City nearby focuses on the recent earthquakes, and explains why so much of the city suffered liquefaction with interactive displays.
With the quakes at forefront of your mind, you could catch the Red Bus Rebuild Tour to get insight on all the changes that have come since, and see the poignant memorial 185 Empty Chairs, before visiting the transitional church The Cardboard Cathedral to say a quick prayer for those lost, and those left behind, before admiring the largest structure in the world constructed with cardboard as the main element.
We'll have you celebrating delicious New Zealand food and your last night in Christchurch City at one of our favourite restaurants in the area.
Day 3 : Depart Christchurch City
This morning before you depart on a day of travelling, it's always a good idea to tire the kids out with a trip to Margaret Mahy Playground, before you set off on your next adventure. If you're flying out, check-in a few hours early and check out the International Antarctic Centre - after all, it might be the closest you ever get to this remarkable continent. As always, whatever direction you're going, we'll let you know the best way to get from this region to the next part of your New Zealand trip, wherever you want that to be.