From jet boating and skydiving to going on a Lord of the Rings tour, here’s our list of the best things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand!
Christchurch is one of the largest cities in New Zealand and one of its greatest tourist destinations.
No matter what you’re looking for in a vacation spot, you can find it here. It’s an exceedingly diverse city with beautiful natural surroundings, a thriving art scene, and many exciting things to see and do.
Christchurch is also a bit of a thrill seeker’s paradise. The natural beauty of the Southern Alps and the Pacific Ocean lend itself well to adventurous activities.
The recent earthquakes that struck the city may have damaged many of the buildings, but they didn’t damage the spirit of the Kiwis, who have rebuilt proudly.
While many travelers may opt to skip Christchurch for some of the more popular South Island destinations such as Queenstown, those that stay here for a few days quickly fall in love with its energetic atmosphere.
Table of Contents
- Our List of the Best Things to Do in Christchurch
- 1) Do a Walking Tour with the Legends at Green Kiwi Tours
- 2) Go Hiking At Godley Head
- 3) Go Jet Boating
- 4) Visit the Christchurch Botanic Gardens
- 5) Go Skydiving
- 6) Visit the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial
- 7) Go Bungee Jumping
- 8) Visit The International Antarctic Centre
- 9) Fly a Helicopter
- 10) See the Brockworth Street Art Gallery
- 11) Go On A Lord Of The Rings Tour
- 12) Take A Christchurch Gondola Ride
- 13) Swim With the Dolphins
- 14) Go Rafting
- 15) Check Out the World Buskers Festival
- 16) Enjoy The Ko Tane Maori Experience
Our List of the Best Things to Do in Christchurch
You can find a whole range of awesome adventure activities in Christchurch, from jet boating, bungee jumping, skydiving, and more.
However, the city also offers many opportunities to simply relax and enjoy yourself. There are numerous parks and waterfront paths along the Avon River.
You can wander around in its award-winning Christchurch Botanic Gardens or pay your respects at the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial. New Regent Street is downtown has lots of great shops and restaurants.
Or you can enjoy a day with your kids at the International Antarctic Centre.
These are just a few of the things that Christchurch has to offer.
So let’s take a closer look at some of the adventures that await you in this marvellous city.
1) Do a Walking Tour with the Legends at Green Kiwi Tours
The best way to get to know a city is to explore it with a local, and at the end of 2019 a new company has started up that offers fantastic tours for visitors that should be the absolute first thing you do when you arrive.
Green Kiwi Tours is a locally owned and operated business by Simon Bowie, an enthusiastic guy from Christchurch.
Having spent many years travelling around New Zealand as a professional tour guide, he has taken his experience of giving tourists the best experience possible and brought it to his home town.
His new company offers free walking tours (you choose how much you’d like to tip at the end) to all of Christchurch’s main attractions.
You’ll check out the old and new cathedrals, the 185 Chairs Memorial, Bridge of Remembrance, Canterbury Museum, and plenty more hidden spots along the way.
Simon is hilarious, knowledgable and loves his city, so you’re in good hands when exploring Christchurch. He also offers a craft beer tour and private tours.
We personally know Simon from doing a snowboarding tour around the South Island of New Zealand where he was our guide, so we can vouch for his professionalism and passion.
Tell him the guys from NOMADasaurus sent you when you sign up for his Free Christchurch Walking Tour!
- Address: Christchurch i-SITE
- Time: Tours depart 11.30am & 2.00pm, Mon – Sat.
- Book online through the website.
2) Go Hiking At Godley Head
There are many great hiking trails in Christchurch, but none are quite as spectacular as the one you’ll find at Godley Head.
Not only does it do a great job of showcasing New Zealand’s natural beauty, but it also has a lot of history behind it.
It once served as a coastal defense during WW2, which will certainly be of interest to any history buffs out there.
This trail starts at Taylors Mistake Beach near Sumner Beach, which is an excellent attraction in itself.
During your hike, you’re likely to see some wildlife during the hike, including penguins, dolphins, or even whales in the Pacific Ocean.
This is an astounding trail overall and is one of the best things to do in Christchurch.
READ MORE: Check out our new guide on the best hiking in New Zealand!
3) Go Jet Boating
Believe it or not, the jet boat was actually invented in New Zealand, and what better place to experience it than right here in town!
It’s one of the most exciting things to do in Christchurch and one of the most fun ways to enjoy the beautiful Waimakariri River.
You’ll be riding down the river at breakneck speed while experiencing 360-degree spins and hairpin turns.
You have the option of choosing a 30-minute ride or a sixty-minute ride.
The 30-minute tour offers a ride on the Waimakariri River while the 60-minute tours provide two additional options.
One takes you to the Waimakariri Gorge where you can enjoy gorgeous views of the Southern Alps.
The other takes you on a safari to the upper Waimakariri Gorge to places that can’t be reached in any other way.
It’s part of the culture here and the Christchurch sightseeing experience isn’t complete without having a go on the jet boat!
The best operator for jet boating in Christchurch is Alpine Jet Thrills.
4) Visit the Christchurch Botanic Gardens
This is one of the most spectacular places to visit in Christchurch.
The Christchurch Botanic Gardens are over 150 years old and consist of 21 hectares. There are ten gardens in all, many of which contain rare and exotic plant species from all over the world.
Their rose garden in particular features 250 different kinds of roses.
In addition to its vast collection of plants, the Botanic Gardens also provide fantastic bird watching opportunities, especially during the spring.
There’s also a gift shop and a cafe, and better yet, entry to the Botanic Gardens is completely free.
It’s located inside Hagley Park next to the Avon River and is one of the truly beautiful Christchurch tourist attractions and a must-see for nature lovers.
Afterward, head over to the nearby Canterbury Museum or walk to New Regent Street for some food and shopping.
- Address: Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch Central City
- Opening hours: every day from 7 AM – 9 PM
- Price: Free of charge
Book a tram tour of downtown Christchurch and New Regent Street here.
5) Go Skydiving
If you really want an adrenaline rush, then this is what you need to do.
Going skydiving is on the bucket list of many adventure seekers, and New Zealand is one of the best places to do it. The country’s natural beauty lends itself well to this activity.
When you go skydiving in Christchurch, you’ll be leaping out of a plane at a height of 12,000 feet.
Don’t worry, no previous experience is required. When you jump, you’ll be tandem diving with an experienced instructor.
Therefore, your safety is completely guaranteed.
You can simply enjoy the rush of falling through the air while enjoying the gorgeous scenery below you.
If you’re always waiting for your next adrenaline fix, this is one of the unmissable Christchurch attractions.
READ MORE: Check out this itinerary for your road trip around New Zealand
6) Visit the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial
Tragically, Christchurch experienced a devastating earthquake on February 22, 2011 that took the lives of 185 people.
It also injured many others and left thousands of people without homes.
The Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial exists to pay respect to those whose lives were impacted by this awful tragedy.
This is the place to go if you would like to honour their memory.
The memorial contains a wall with the names of everyone who lost their lives in the earthquake. It also acknowledges those who were seriously injured.
Its 185 empty chairs exhibit is one of the most somber things to see in the Canterbury Region.
This exhibit consists of 185 white, empty chairs to symbolize those who died in the quake.
- Address: Montreal Street, Christchurch Central City
- Opening hours: 24h/7
7) Go Bungee Jumping
This is another one of the most exciting things to do in Christchurch.
Bungee Jumping has a long history in New Zealand. They practically pioneered this activity which makes it the perfect place to try it for yourself.
During your stay in Christchurch, you can go bungee jumping in the nearby town of Hanmer Springs.
From there, you’ll take a 35-metre leap from the historic Ferry Bridge.
For an extra charge, you can also purchase photos of the experience so you can remember this adventure for the rest of your life.
It’s a great way to get your adrenaline pumping if you’re wondering what to do in Christchurch.
READ MORE: Heading elsewhere in New Zealand? Check out our list of the best things to do in Wanaka!
8) Visit The International Antarctic Centre
The International Antarctic Centre is one of the biggest attractions in Christchurch.
Its main function is to allow people to enjoy the wonders of Antarctica from the comforts of New Zealand.
It’s a great place to bring your kids, and it’s a lot of fun for adults as well.
There are many things to see and do while you’re here. One of these is its indoor Antarctic Storm.
This is a completely safe experience that takes place in an indoor polar room chilled to -5 degrees Celsius.
You can also go on the Hagglund Ride which simulates the rough conditions of riding in a real Hagglund.
You can even hang out with little blue penguins while you’re there!
- Address: 38 Orchard Road, Harewood
- Opening hours: every day from 9 AM – 4:30 PM
- Price: 49 NZD
9) Fly a Helicopter
Yes, you read that right.
Not only can you take a ride in a helicopter while you’re in Christchurch, you can also try your hand at flying one yourself.
This is a really cool thing you can cross off your bucket list and is a unique experience you can only have in Christchurch.
The flight lasts for thirty minutes.
During this time, a trained instructor will guide you through the steps of taking off, flying, and landing the helicopter in the Canterbury Plains.
If this sounds a little too intense for you, there are other tours where you can simply ride along as a passenger and admire the scenery of Canterbury Plains.
As beautiful as New Zealand is from the ground, it’s even more breathtaking from the air.
To explore more of incredible nature outside of Christchurch, don’t forget to read our New Zealand Travel Guide.
10) See the Brockworth Street Art Gallery
Art lovers are sure to appreciate this. Christchurch is a city that’s well-known for its street art.
Everywhere you go, you’re sure to find old buildings with brilliant murals painted on their sides. Much of this was made after the earthquakes in an attempt to uplift the spirits of its citizens.
In fact, you can find an entire gallery of these on Brockworth Street. This can be found in the Christchurch suburb of Riccarton.
On this street, you’ll find a wide array of murals painted on the sides of brick walls.
The art you’ll find here ranges from humorous to surreal and is a must-see for anyone who loves art.
Art lovers should also check out the Christchurch Art Gallery. It’s right next to the beautiful Hagley Park and Avon River and is full of contemprary art and local events. Between the street art and the Christchurch Art Gallery, you’re spoiled for choice here.
- Address: 33 Riccarton Road, Riccarton
11) Go On A Lord Of The Rings Tour
If you’ve ever wanted to explore Middle-Earth for real, this is your chance.
It’s a well-known fact that the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed in the beautiful country of New Zealand.
While you’re in Christchurch, you can visit several of the main locations that were used for the movie.
Some of the key locations you can visit include the settings for the Shire, Edoras, Helms Deep, and the Gardens of Isengard.
You’ll also get to learn more about how these amazing locations were brought to life in the movies.
This is a unique experience that you can only have in New Zealand and is something every Lord of the Rings fan should see for themselves.
12) Take A Christchurch Gondola Ride
The Christchurch Gondola is one of the city’s most popular attractions. In this way, you can admire the city from above in a gondola.
The gondola is 1000 meters long and takes you to the summit of Mount Cavendish.
Along the way, you’ll be greeted with incredible views of Christchurch and the Southern Alps.
Once you reach the summit, you can grab a bite to eat at the Red Rock Cafe or look for souvenirs at Shop at the Top.
The gondola is also a great way to reach some of Christchurch’s best hiking trails.
Or you can simply ride the gondola back down to the city.
As mentioned before, you haven’t truly seen the city until you’ve seen it from above – making this a Christchurch must-see.
13) Swim With the Dolphins
This is your opportunity to have an up-close encounter with these amazing creatures.
On this tour, you’ll be taken to the beautiful Akaroa Harbor where you can swim alongside Hector’s dolphins.
This particular dolphin species is one of the smallest in the world, and this is the only place where you can find them.
You can also expect to see other wildlife such as penguins and seals while you’re there.
The dolphins themselves are incredibly friendly and playful.
You’re guaranteed to have a fun, unforgettable experience during your time with them.
On top of this, you’ll also see many other landmarks on your way to Akaroa Harbor such as Governor’s Bay and Lake Ellesmere.
14) Go Rafting
When you’re in Christchurch, you have the opportunity to go rafting down the Rangitata River.
This is an extremely fun experience and is sure to appeal to all the thrill-seekers out there.
The rapids on this river go all the way up to Grade 5, which is excellent for experienced rafters who are looking for a challenge.
For those who want a more tranquil rafting experience, you can take a trip on the Rangitata River’s lower gorge instead.
This part of the river features Grade 2 rapids and is appropriate for families with children.
No matter which one you choose, a riverside barbecue will be waiting for you at the end of your adventure.
15) Check Out the World Buskers Festival
This is another way to enjoy Christchurch’s more creative side.
The World Buskers Festival is an annual event that takes place every January during New Zealand’s summer.
This event features hundreds of street performers with acts in many different genres.
It’s the only place where you can see this many street performers in one place, and the range of entertainment on display is quite astounding.
There’s music, comedy, dancing, juggling, vaudeville, and much more.
Not to mention acts that completely transcend description.
The festival is known for its crazy, off the wall performances, and attracts hundreds of thousands of people every year.
It’s definitely unlike any other festival you’ve ever been to.
16) Enjoy The Ko Tane Maori Experience
This is what you want to do if you’d like to learn more about Christchurch’s history and culture.
The Ko Tane Maori Experience takes you to an interactive replica of an old, Maori village.
During this time, you’ll learn more about the tools the Maoris used, the games they played, and the techniques they used to cook their meals.
You’ll also see a 45-minute performance that includes dancing, songs, games, and weapon displays. All of this ends with a four-course dinner that features traditional hangi cuisine.
It’s a fascinating look at how an indigenous group of people once lived their lives.
If you love to learn about other cultures, then this is something you simply can’t afford to miss.
These are just a few of the exciting and awesome things to do in Christchurch. As you can see, it’s an amazing city that offers many different kinds of adventures.
Whether you’re looking for action, creativity, or incredible natural beauty, you can find it here.
Start booking your trip now, and you’ll be making new memories in no time.
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