12 Best Things to Do in Christchurch: The Ultimate Guide

Best things to do in Christchurch

Whether you prefer to visit Canterbury for unforgettable expeditions into the quaint towns, enjoy thermal soaks at Hammer Springs, or blend with the wildlife at Kaikoura, Christchurch has more to offer than you can experience in a lifetime.

That said,ย here is your ultimate guide to the best things to do in Christchurch.

1. Gondola Ride

This attraction takes visitors on a journey to the summit of Port Hills, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the city, Canterbury Plains, and the Southern Alps.

The gondola ride typically begins near the Heathcote Valley and ascends to the summit of Mt. Cavendish.

Gondola Rideย 

๐Ÿ”Ž Insights about the Gondola Ride

๐ŸŒ„ Scenic Views: Ascend to the summit of Port Hills in comfortable gondola cabins for breathtaking panoramic views of Christchurch, Canterbury Plains, and the Southern Alps.

๐Ÿž๏ธ Landscape Beauty: Immerse yourself in the stunning landscapes below, witnessing the unique beauty of the New Zealand countryside.

๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ Informative Exhibits: Explore the summit’s observation deck, which may feature educational exhibits providing insights into the geological and historical aspects of the region.

๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธ Relaxing Journey: Enjoy a leisurely and comfortable gondola ride from Heathcote Valley to Mt. Cavendish, offering a serene and enjoyable experience.

๐ŸŒ Unique Perspective: Gain a unique perspective of Christchurch and its surroundings from the elevated vantage point at the summit.

๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿ’ป Booking Experience

*Please refer to the operator’s website for more information about this activity.

2. Visit the Pohatu Marine Reserve

The Pohatu Marine Reserve is the refuge of the most significant Little Penguin colony on the mainland. Here, you’ll have the chance to see some yellow-eyed penguins as they pay homage to the bay.

For an experience you will always remember, take a trip with the marine reserve guides and observe them studying nesting penguins.

Pohatu Marine Reserve activity

๐Ÿ”Žย Insights about the Pohatu Marine Reserve

๐ŸŒŠ Marine Biodiversity: Pohatu Marine Reserve, near Akaroa, boasts diverse marine life, including seals, penguins, and various fish species.

๐Ÿฆญ Seal Colony: Witness a thriving seal colony with opportunities for guided tours to observe these playful marine mammals in their natural habitat.

๐Ÿšค Eco-Tours: Explore the reserve through eco-friendly boat tours, gaining insights into the marine environment and conservation efforts.

๐Ÿž๏ธ Scenic Beauty:ย Enjoy stunning coastal landscapes, rugged cliffs, pristine beaches, and clear turquoise waters.

๐Ÿง Penguin Habitat: Discover the reserve’s significance as a habitat for the White-Flippered Blue Penguin, providing a unique opportunity for wildlife enthusiasts.

๐ŸŒฟ Conservation Initiatives: Learn about local conservation efforts aimed at preserving the fragile marine ecosystem and ensuring the sustainability of the reserve.

๐ŸŒ„ Sunset Views: Consider joining evening tours for breathtaking sunset views over the marine reserve, enhancing the overall experience.

๐ŸŠโ€โ™‚๏ธ Snorkeling Opportunities: Engage in snorkeling activities to explore the vibrant underwater world, featuring colorful marine life and crystal-clear waters.

๐ŸŒ Educational Experiences: Participate in educational programs and guided tours to deepen your understanding of the reserve’s ecological importance.

๐Ÿ“ธ Photography Paradise: Capture memorable moments of marine wildlife, scenic landscapes, and unique geological features, making it a photographer’s delight.

๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿ’ป Booking Experience

*Please refer to the operator’s website for more information about this activity.

3. Tour the Waipara Wineries

The Waipara region is located 45 minutes north of Christchurch and is quite famous for its tantalizing Reisling and Pinot Noir.

Waipara is home toย over 60ย vineyards and cellars, allowing visitors to pop in for wine tasting.

Whether you prefer Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, or Chardonnay, there’s something for everyone.

Waipara Wineries tour

๐Ÿ”Žย Insights about the Waipara Wineries

๐Ÿ›–ย Vineyard Haven: Waipara Valley is renowned for its vineyards, producing high-quality wines due to its unique climate and soil conditions.

๐Ÿท Wine Tasting Delights:ย Explore various boutique wineries offering exquisite wine tastings, including renowned Pinot Noir and aromatic Riesling.

๐Ÿ‡ Grape Varieties:ย Waipara is known for its diverse grape varieties, with winemakers experimenting and producing exceptional Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc expressions.

๐ŸŒ„ Picturesque Landscapes: Enjoy the scenic beauty of the Waipara wine region, surrounded by rolling hills, vine-covered landscapes, and a serene countryside ambiance.

๐Ÿฝ๏ธ Culinary Experiences: Some wineries offer excellent dining experiences, with gourmet cuisine paired perfectly with their wines, enhancing the overall tasting adventure.

๐Ÿš— Winery Tours: Engage in guided winery tours to gain insights into the winemaking process, vineyard management, and the unique terroir of Waipara.

๐Ÿ’šย Sustainable Practices: Discover wineries committed to sustainable and organic practices, reflecting a dedication to environmental responsibility and wine quality.

๐ŸŽ‰ Wine Events: Check for wine events and festivals, providing opportunities to taste new releases, meet winemakers, and immerse yourself in the local wine culture.

๐Ÿ›๏ธ Cellar Door Purchases: Many wineries offer the chance to purchase wines directly from their doors, allowing visitors to take home their favorite discoveries.

๐ŸŒฟ Wine and Nature: Some wineries integrate natural elements into their settings, creating a harmonious blend of wine tasting and appreciation of the surrounding nature.

๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿ’ป Booking Experience

*Please refer to the operator’s website for more information about this tour.

4. Visit Port Hills

Whether you prefer toย explore by air, bike or on foot, the dazzling, history-rich Port Hills will offer spectacular views of the city below and the sprawling Southern Alps.

You will also take photos of theย local wildlifeย and the outstanding Castle Rock formation.

Port Hills activity

๐Ÿ”Žย Insights about Port Hills

๐Ÿž๏ธ Panoramic Vistas: Port Hills, overlooking Christchurch, offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city, Canterbury Plains, and the Southern Alps.

๐Ÿšถ Walking Tracks:ย Explore a network of walking and hiking tracks suitable for various fitness levels, providing opportunities for strolls and challenging hikes.

๐ŸŒณ Native Flora and Fauna: Encounter native New Zealand flora and fauna along the hills, with some areas designated for conservation and restoration efforts.

๐Ÿšดโ€โ™€๏ธ Mountain Biking Trails: For adventure seekers, there are mountain biking trails that wind through the hills, offering exhilarating rides with stunning landscapes.

๐ŸŒ… Sunset Spot: Port Hills is a popular spot to witness mesmerizing sunsets over the Canterbury region, creating a serene and picturesque atmosphere.

๐ŸŒบ Botanic Gardens and Parks: Discover pockets of greenery, including the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, contributing to the overall beauty and biodiversity of the hills.

๐Ÿฐ Historical Significance: Port Hills has historical importance, with sites such as Godley Head showcasing remnants of military installations from World War II.

๐ŸŒŠ Coastal Views: Enjoy stunning views of the Canterbury coastline, adding a coastal charm to the landscape.

๐ŸŒ„ Adventure Activities: Beyond walking and biking, Port Hills is a hub for paragliding and other adventure activities, providing a unique perspective of the surroundings.

๐ŸŒฟ Community Spaces: The hills host community events and gatherings, fostering a sense of community and providing spaces for relaxation and recreation.

๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿ’ป Booking Experience

*Please refer to the operator’s website for more information about this activity.

5. Drive to Arthurs Pass National Park

If rivers, endless forests, and the natural wild is your thing, you will enjoy visitingย Arthurs Pass National Park. You canย start the short walks from the nearby village.

These short walks include the Bridal Veil Track, The Devil’s Punchbowl Falls, Temple Basin, the Historic Village, and the Dobson Nature Walk.

Arthurs Pass National Park

๐Ÿ”Ž Insights about the Arthurs Pass National Park

๐Ÿž๏ธ Alpine Splendor:ย Arthur’s Pass National Park boasts majestic alpine landscapes surrounded by snow-capped peaks and pristine wilderness.

๐ŸŒฒ Native Flora and Fauna: Explore diverse ecosystems, including native beech forests, alpine meadows, and the chance to encounter New Zealand’s unique birdlife.

๐Ÿšถ Hiking Trails: The park offers a network of hiking trails catering to various skill levels, providing opportunities to witness stunning scenery and natural wonders.

๐Ÿ”๏ธ Southern Alps Crossing: Arthur’s Pass is a key crossing point of the Southern Alps, offering dramatic vistas of mountainous terrain and deep valleys.

๐ŸŒณ Conservation Efforts: The park plays a vital role in conservation efforts, preserving the natural habitat of native species like kea, kaka, and the rock wren.

๐Ÿš— Scenic Drives: The drive through Arthur’s Pass is an attraction itself, featuring breathtaking views, winding roads, and access to iconic landmarks like the Otira Viaduct.

๐Ÿž๏ธ Valleys and Waterfalls: Discover picturesque valleys, meandering rivers, and cascading waterfalls, creating stunning scenes throughout the park.

๐ŸŒบ Floral Diversity: Experience a range of flora, from alpine flowers to mosses, adding vibrant colors to the landscape during different seasons.

๐Ÿš Aerial Perspectives: Consider taking a helicopter tour for an aerial perspective of the park, providing unparalleled views of its rugged beauty.

๐ŸŒŒ Stargazing: Arthur’s Pass, with its remote location, offers excellent conditions for stargazing. The night sky reveals a tapestry of stars and celestial wonders.

๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿ’ป Booking Experience

*Please refer to the operator’s website for more information about this activity.

6. Take a Train Ride on the Tranz Alpine Railย 

If you want to take a train ride you will never forget, consider the Tranz Alpine journey. It isย one of the most spectacular train rides you will ever experience.

You willย start your ride in Christchurch, cut across Canterbury Plains, and pass into Arthur’s Pass National Park.

Afterward, you will pass through the thick wild beech forest and end your journey in Greymouth.

Train Ride on the Tranz Alpine Railย 

๐Ÿ”Ž Insights about the Tranz Alpine Rail

๐Ÿš‚ Scenic Railway Journey: The TranzAlpine is renowned as one of the world’s most scenic train journeys, traversing the stunning landscapes of the Southern Alps.

๐Ÿž๏ธ Southern Alps Views: Revel in panoramic views of the majestic Southern Alps, vast valleys, and lush beech forests as the train winds through Arthur’s Pass.

๐Ÿ›ค๏ธ Arthur’s Pass Route: The journey includes a picturesque ascent through Arthur’s Pass, offering passengers a unique perspective of this alpine wonderland.

๐ŸŒฒ Beech Forests: Encounter native beech forests, adding a touch of wilderness and showcasing the diverse ecosystems of New Zealand’s South Island.

๐Ÿšƒ Comfortable Seating: Enjoy the comfort of modern carriages with large windows, allowing passengers to immerse themselves in the breathtaking scenery fully.

๐Ÿšž Open-Air Carriage Option: The TranzAlpine features an open-air viewing carriage, providing an exhilarating and unobstructed experience of the surroundings.

๐ŸŒ… Sunrise and Sunset Journeys: Opt for sunrise or sunset departures to witness the landscape bathed in the warm hues of the sun, creating a magical ambiance.

๐Ÿ›ค๏ธ Coast-to-Coast Adventure: The train journey spans from Christchurch on the east coast to Greymouth on the west coast, offering a diverse coast-to-coast experience.

๐Ÿฝ๏ธ Onboard Dining: Indulge in onboard dining, savoring delicious cuisine while surrounded by the captivating beauty of New Zealand’s South Island.

๐Ÿ“œ Historical Narration: Learn about the history, culture, and significance of the landscapes through informative onboard commentary, enhancing the journey.

๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿ’ป Booking Experience

*Please refer to the operator’s website for more information about this tour.

7. Soak in the Hammer Springs Thermal Pools

If you have yet to soak yourself in Hammer’s thermal pools, your trip to Christchurch is incomplete.

Theย thermal poolsย will offer you some relaxationย as well as adrenaline-filled waterslides.

Here, you can also enjoy some hexagonal pools, sulfur pools, aqua therapy, and rock pools that will refresh you.

Thermal Pools activity

๐Ÿ”Ž Insights about the Hammer Springs Thermal Pools

๐ŸŒ‹ Geothermal Relaxation: Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools offer a unique experience with geothermally heated mineral waters renowned for their therapeutic properties.

๐Ÿž๏ธ Spectacular Alpine Setting: Nestled in a stunning alpine environment, the pools provide a serene escape surrounded by mountains and native flora.

๐Ÿ› Variety of Pools: Enjoy a range of pools, each with different temperatures and features, catering to various preferences for relaxation and rejuvenation.

๐Ÿ’† Wellness and Spa Facilities: Beyond pools, indulge in wellness facilities, including spa treatments, saunas, and steam rooms, enhancing the overall relaxation experience.

๐ŸŒบ Scenic Thermal Reserve: The complex includes a picturesque thermal reserve, where natural hot springs merge with the alpine landscape, creating a tranquil ambiance.

๐ŸŒฟ Native Plant Walks: Explore native plant walks within the thermal reserve, providing an opportunity to connect with the natural surroundings.

๐Ÿฝ๏ธ Culinary Delights: The complex offers on-site dining options, allowing visitors to enjoy delicious meals amidst the natural beauty of the thermal pools.

๐Ÿš— Scenic Drive from Christchurch: The journey to Hanmer Springs is scenic, making the destination not only about the pools but also the picturesque drive through the countryside.

๐ŸŒ„ Night Time Bliss: Consider an evening visit to experience the thermal pools under the stars, creating a magical and tranquil atmosphere.

๐Ÿšฟ Family-Friendly: The pools cater to all ages, making it a family-friendly destination where everyone can enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the thermal waters.

๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿ’ป Booking Experience

*Please refer to the operator’s website for more information about this tour.

8. Do some Jet Boating

If you’reย down for someย action-packed activities,ย jet-boarding is perfect for you. Go to the Waiau River and watch your skipper navigate the white rapids.

Jet boating

๐Ÿ”Žย Insights about Jet Boating in Christchurch

โšก Thrilling Adventure:ย Jet boating in Christchurch offers an exhilarating, adrenaline-pumping adventure along the city’s rivers.

๐ŸŒŠ Iconic Rivers: Experience the thrill of iconic rivers like the Waimakariri River, where jet boats navigate through twists, turns, and shallow waters.

๐Ÿšค 360-Degree Spins: Enjoy heart-pounding 360-degree spins and daring maneuvers executed by skilled jet boat drivers, adding an extra layer of excitement.

๐Ÿž๏ธ Scenic Landscapes:ย While the experience is thrilling, jet boating allows you to appreciate the natural beauty of the surrounding landscapes and riverbanks.

๐Ÿ•ถ๏ธ Safety First: Operators prioritize safety with expert drivers, modern equipment, and thorough safety briefings to ensure a secure and enjoyable ride.

๐ŸŒŠ Shallow Water Adventures: Jet boats are uniquely designed to operate in shallow waters, allowing access to areas other ships cannot reach.

๐ŸŒ„ Combination of Thrills and Views: The adventure combines high-speed thrills with moments of tranquility, allowing you to take in scenic views along the journey.

๐Ÿšค Family-Friendly Options: Many jet boat operators offer family-friendly rides, making it an activity suitable for various age groups.

๐ŸŽฅ Memorable Photo Opportunities: Capture memorable moments as jet boats create dramatic sprays of water against the backdrop of the river and surrounding landscapes.

๐ŸŒ… Sunset Jet Boating: Some operators offer sunset jet boating experiences, providing a unique and picturesque way to end your adventure.

๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿ’ป Booking Experience

*Please refer to the operator’s website for more information about this activity.

9. Relax at The Botanic Gardens and Board a Punt

There’s nothing as assuring and relaxing as beingย surrounded by thousands of greenery. You can take your time and marvel at the beauty of each sculpture, flower, or plant.

When you feel like you want to relax, you only have to get into a punt on the Avon River and leisurelyย meditate on the sights you’ve just experienced.

botanic gardens tour

๐Ÿ”Žย Insights about the Botanic Gardens

๐ŸŒฟ Botanic Gardens Oasis: Immerse yourself in the tranquility of The Botanic Gardens, surrounded by lush greenery, sculptures, and vibrant flowers.

๐Ÿšฃโ€โ™‚๏ธ Avon River Punting: Board a punt on the Avon River for a leisurely experience. Meditate on the natural beauty witnessed during your garden exploration.

๐ŸŒบ Scenic Marvels: Take your time to appreciate the intricate details of each sculpture, flower, and plant, creating a soothing and assuring atmosphere.

๐ŸŒ… Relaxation Retreat: The serene ambiance of the gardens and the gentle punt ride offers a perfect setting for relaxation and contemplation.

๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿ’ป Booking Experience

*Please refer to the operator’s website for more information about this tour.

10. Take in Akaroa, Marine Life

There’sย a lot of marine lifeย in Akaroa for you to discover. You can see Hector’s Dolphin, the world’s smallest dolphin. Swim with the dolphins and find the horizon together.

Akaroa, Marine Life activity

๐Ÿ”Ž Insights about Marine Life in Akaroa

๐Ÿฌ Hector’s Dolphins: Akaroa is home to the rare and endemic Hector’s dolphins, providing unique opportunities for close encounters with these playful marine mammals.

๐Ÿ‹ Whale Watching: The waters around Akaroa are frequented by various whale species, including the impressive sperm whales, creating a prime location for whale watching.

๐Ÿฆญ Fur Seal Colonies: Explore the scenic coastline to discover fur seal colonies, where these marine mammals can be observed basking on rocks or swimming in the waters.

๐Ÿง Penguin Habitats: Akaroa hosts various penguin species, including the White-Flippered Blue Penguin, offering a chance to witness these charming birds in their natural habitat.

๐ŸŸ Diverse Fish Species: The marine environment around Akaroa supports a diverse array of fish species, making it an excellent destination for fishing enthusiasts and marine life enthusiasts alike.

๐ŸŒŠ Coastal Birdlife: The coastal areas of Akaroa attract numerous bird species, providing birdwatchers with opportunities to spot gulls, terns, petrels, and other seabirds.

๐Ÿšค Eco-Friendly Cruises:ย Join eco-friendly boat tours to explore marine life responsibly, with knowledgeable guides providing insights into the region’s rich biodiversity.

๐Ÿฆ‘ Cephalopod Encounters: Akaroa’s waters are home to various cephalopods, including squid and octopus, offering a fascinating glimpse into the underwater world.

๐Ÿ›ฅ๏ธ Akaroa Harbour Adventures: The harbor itself is a haven for marine life, and boat tours in the sheltered waters allow for comfortable and scenic wildlife observation.

๐ŸŒŠ Marine Conservation Efforts: Akaroa emphasizes marine conservation, with efforts to protect and preserve the delicate balance of the marine ecosystem.

๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿ’ป Booking Experiences

*Please refer to the operator’s website for more information about this activities.

11. Zipline Tour

Soar through the skies on an exhilarating zipline tour at Christchurch Adventure Park, where a series of high-speed ziplines takes you to impressive heights, offering sweeping panoramas of the Southern Alps and the Pacific Ocean.

Zipline tour

๐Ÿ”Ž Insights aboutย  the Zipline Tour

๐Ÿž๏ธ Scenic Thrills: Soar through the air on a zipline tour, experiencing an exhilarating journey through Christchurch’s picturesque landscapes.

๐ŸŒฟ Nature Exploration: Encounter the beauty of the region’s natural surroundings as you navigate through treetop canopies and lush landscapes.

๐Ÿคธ Adventure for All Ages: Zipline tours often cater to a wide range of ages and fitness levels, providing an exciting and accessible adventure for individuals and families.

๐ŸŽ‰ Adrenaline Rush: Enjoy an adrenaline-pumping experience as you zip from platform to platform, taking in stunning views from elevated perspectives.

๐Ÿ”ง Safety Measures: Zipline operators prioritize safety, ensuring participants are equipped with the necessary gear and providing thorough safety briefings before the adventure.

๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿ’ป Booking Experience

*Please refer to the operator’s website for more information about this tour.

12. Lyttelton Shore Excursion: Antarctic Center

This half-day comprehensive coach tour of Christchurchย encompasses more attractions than many visitors can explore independently on weekends.

The itinerary includes visiting the renowned International Antarctic Centre, an informative narrated tour in an air-conditioned coach covering several of the Garden City’s most historic and picturesque sites.

Antarctic Center

๐Ÿ”Ž Insights about the Antarctic Center

๐ŸŒ Location: The Antarctic Centre is located adjacent to Christchurch International Airport.

๐Ÿ”๏ธ Purpose: Serves as a gateway to Antarctica, providing insights into the continent, its environment, and scientific research.

๐Ÿ“ธ Exhibits and Displays: Features simulations of Antarctica’s extreme conditions, including an Antarctic storm experience.

๐Ÿš™ Hagglund Ride: Offers a thrilling ride on a simulated Antarctic landscape using the all-terrain Hagglund vehicle.

๐Ÿง Blue Penguins: Home to a colony of blue penguins, allowing one to observe these adorable creatures.

๐Ÿ“š Educational Programs: Provides educational programs about Antarctic research, climate change, and environmental preservation.

๐Ÿฝ๏ธ Cafe and Gift Shop: Includes a cafรฉ for refreshments and a gift shop offering Antarctic-themed souvenirs.

๐Ÿ‘ฅ Accessibility: Designed to be accessible to all visitors, catering to various age groups and interests.

๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿ’ป Booking Experience

*Please refer to the operator’s website for more information about this tour.

Top Recommended Day Trips, Private Tours and Other Activities to Book in Christchurch

Christchurch offers a variety of ways to explore its rich cultural, historical, and natural attractions.

Here are some popular ways to tour Christchurch:

1. Tram Tours

2. Day Trips

Christchurch serves as an excellent base for exploring the surrounding areas. Numerous day trip options cater to various interests, from natural landscapes to cultural experiences.

Here are someย popular day trips from Christchurch:

3. 4WD Tours

New Zealand’s stunning landscapes served as the backdrop for the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

Join a 4WD tour that takes you to filming locations around Christchurch and the Canterbury region, providing a unique blend of adventure and cinematic history.

4. Cultural & Theme Tours

A private two-hour walk to discover Christchurch can be a wonderful way to explore the city’s highlights, history, and culture.

While the specific itinerary may vary based on your interests and preferences, here’s a suggested tour that covers key attractions and provides a well-rounded experience:

5. Cruses, Sailing & Water Tours

Being inland, Christchurch needs direct access to the sea. However,ย there are opportunities for river and harbor cruises in the surrounding regions.

Here are some options for cruises and sailing experiences near Christchurch:

6. Air, Helicopter and Balloon Tours

Soar above Christchurch and enjoy a panoramic view of the city’s landmarks, parks, and the surrounding Canterbury Plains.

Some tours may include commentary from the pilot, providing insights into the city’s history and geography.

7. Private & Custom Tours

Embark on an adventure-filled private tour,ย an ideal way to explore the scenic wonders between Christchurch and Queenstownโ€”a journey in style aboard a luxurious Mercedes Benz minivan, accompanied by your private guide.


Most people only know Christchurch for the devastating earthquakes the city faced in 2010 and 2011. However,ย there’s much to see and do in the world’s newest city.

Once you start exploring, you won’t stop. But, one thing is sure;ย you’ll love the ”Garden City”! ๐Ÿฅ‡๐Ÿฐ

Table of Contents

Most Popular Locations

About Kiwilanders NZ

Kiwilanders is a directory and blog featuring informational and recreational content about New Zealand.