Things to do in Christchurch
There is an abundance of things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand. As one of New Zealand’s oldest cities, Christchurch is well worth whiling away a day exploring its bustling streets or heading out on one of its many walking tracks. The Avon River flows through the heart of the city connecting many of the must-see sites like the colourful Spanish Mission architecture of New Regent Street, the cardboard cathedral and the magical botanical gardens. See how art has integrated into the city in the incredible street art and installations. As you stroll its streets, be sure to have a coffee or two from one of the many independent coffee shops lining the sidewalks. If you are trying to figure out what to do in Christchurch, read on!
Fun facts about Christchurch
- Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand. It is the third-largest in New Zealand after Auckland and Wellington.
- The Māori name for the city is Otautahi meaning "the place of Tautahi".
- Throughout history, Christchurch has been the gateway to Antarctica. It has been the departure point for Antarctic exploration expeditions such as Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton.
Best hikes to do in Christchurch
The beauty of a city like Christchurch is that you don’t have to look too hard to find nature. Our favourite walks in Christchurch weave along the coastline and the Avon River.
Godley Head coastal walk
This idyllic 7km coastal walk is one of our all-time favourites and we take you there on our Masterpiece and Kiwi Classic trips. The walk begins at Taylors Mistake Beach (a popular surfing spot!) and winds its way along the coast taking in incredible views of Pegasus Bay. As you continue along the Godley Head track, you’ll have picture-perfect views of Banks Peninsula and the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean (keep your eyes peeled for whales and dolphins!). An added attraction on land is the World War II military installations.
Another option is the 3km track (one way) connecting Lyttelton and Christchurch. There’s a bit of a climb involved but the views from Summit Road are superb. You’ll see the exposed volcanic outcrop of Castle Rock as you walk, and stunning views across Lyttelton Harbour.
Avon River Track
The beautiful Avon River is a dominant feature of Christchurch’s landscape. One of the easiest ways to appreciate it is with a stroll along its banks. The 5.2km track passes alongside many a café, where you can duck in and grab yourself a coffee to go before continuing along the river through the native trees and flowers!
Things to do in Christchurch
Christchurch is a city for two kinds of people: those who seek adventure, and those who seek cultural immersion. Which one are you?
For those who seek a thrill, there are plenty of things to do in Christchurch to induce some adrenaline! From scenic helicopter flights and skydives to hot air balloon rides, bungy jumps, and ziplines, the choices are endless. Hit the trails on a mountain bike or go for a surf on one of the many beach breaks. If you can think of it, you can probably do it in Christchurch!
Soak up the culture
Christchurch is a city in the midst of recovery and regeneration post-earthquake. A vibrant art scene has spread across the city with amazing street art everywhere you turn. Watch a show in New Zealand’s largest and oldest theatre company, the Court theatre, or visit the art museum and a gallery or two. Take a stroll through the incredible botanic gardens. For foodies, the Riverside Market is a must for delicious local dishes, drink and produce. Make sure to check out the Te Papa Ōtākaro/Avon River Precinct, one of Christchurch’s post-earthquake redevelopment projects. This self-guided walk, Ngā Whāriki Manaaki (woven mats of welcome) is a series of 13 paved artworks created to welcome guests to the city.
Best time to visit Christchurch
Christchurch like much of New Zealand is a year-round destination. Its temperate climate ensures it rarely experiences extreme weather. The average summer temperature in Christchurch is 72.5˚F (22.5˚C), while the winter average is 52˚F (11˚C).
Visiting Christchurch with New Zealand Trails
Our World Heritage Walking Tour starts and finishes in Christchurch, giving you the opportunity to stay a few extra days in the city. On our Masterpiece tour, you will have the morning to yourself to explore Christchurch or you can head off with your guides for a hike on the Godley Head coastal walk. After spending an incredible morning swimming with Dusky dolphins in Kaikoura on our Kiwi Classic tour, we’ll head to Christchurch where again you have the option of heading out for a beautiful coastal walk with your guides or spending the evening exploring the vibrant city of Christchurch. And last but not least, you will finish your Pure South adventure in Christchurch.
If you want to find out more about the incredible 5-14 day hiking tours we run in New Zealand, you can request a free copy of our brochure here.