Things To Do

50 Of The Best Things To Do In Christchurch At Least Once In Your Life

By Caitlin Logan

Two people gaze up at a huge street artwork showing three red mouths on a blue background.

Ōtautahi Christchurch is an absolute gem of a city, there’s not a lot it doesn’t have. Beaches? Yes. Arts and culture? Absolutely. Outdoor excursions? You bet. A bunch more fun stuff? By the bucket load.

From stunning vistas, wild swims and outdoor adventures to urban safaris, dining at the best restaurants and sampling the best brews, get out there and explore it with Urban List's picks of 50 of the best things to do in Christchurch. 

Let's Kick It Off With A Drink 

Thankfully Christchurch is blessed with some of the best bars in the country. From cocktails to craft brews, take your pick from our lineup of Christchurch’s best bars. 

Take A Tiki Tour 

Check out the bays of Banks Peninsula, starting at Lyttelton Harbour, heading around to Governors Bay and Little River, and ending up perfectly timed for lunch in Akaroa

Marvel At The Street Art 

Head to Christchurch’s up-and-coming street art scene curated by local artists in all kinds of nooks and crannies. You can scope out where to go with this handy map.

Immerse Yourself In History 

An interior window at Christchurch's famed Cardboard Cathedral.Image credit: ChristchurchNZ

Have a squiz at the Cardboard Cathedral while the traditional one gets a revamp.

Call Yourself An Antarctic Explorer 

Spend the day at the International Antarctic Centre. Experience a minus 8-degree Antarctic storm in the Storm Dome, take a spin in an all-terrain amphibious Hägglund vehicle and get friendly with the ever-so-cute Little Blue Penguins.

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Explore Christchurch’s New Urban Arteries  

With laneways filled with names you already know and love, as well as the cutest local boutiques and merchants. 

Stop For A Break 

Scrummy sustenance is a must. With so many epic contemporary options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you’re spoilt for culinary choices. Oh, and would you look at that, we’ve even made a list of Christchurch’s best restaurants for you.

Bike, Walk, Run 

Whatever your pace, Christchurch has a track to suit. Take a look at our list of the best running tracks in The Chur to find your next outdoor excursion. 

Relax In Style 

Watch a movie at a boutique cinema, like Lumière or Alice Cinemas. 

Time For A Dip 

From Cass Bay to Taylor’s mistake, there’s enough beach for everyone and their dog. 

A Day Abroad

A girl in a hat is punted serenely down the river AvonImage credit: Christchurch Attractions / Facebook

The next best thing to punting the canals of Venice is idling down the iconic Avon River that snakes throughout the inner city to the estuary in New Brighton. Leave the hard work to the Punter or plonk your own kayak into the river and glide downstream. 

Explore Nature 

Otautahi hasn’t been coined the Garden City for nothing—and the best place to see why is the Botanic Gardens. These grounds boast some of the most beautifully curated gardens and are the perfect place for a stroll in any season. 

Experience The Heights 

Go up the gondola and see the city from a different perspective.

A Day In The Hothouse 

Deserving of its own point on our list is the magnificent conservatories tucked within the Botanic Gardens. These humid houses hold a collection of sub-tropical plants, cacti, NZ ferns, and a whole bunch of fragrant flowers. 

Indulge In A Sweet Treat 

An absolute favourite of the locals is the sweet treats served up at Rollickin Gelato. Made right here on Cashel Street, how could you resist a good scoop of creamy goodness? But don't stop at one, here are the best ice cream parlours in Christchurch.

Go For A Ride 

They say that Christchurch is a cyclist’s dream, so hop on your bike and see for yourself on these new links of cycleways. 

Try Something New 

Make like Houdini at one of these escape rooms dotted around the city.

Soak Up The Morning Rays

Two people enjoy a sunrise soak at He Puna Taimoana.Image credit: He Puna Taimoana / Facebook

Watch them coming up over the horizon of New Brighton Beach, while also soaking in the glorious hot pools at He Puna Taimoana. Magic.

Wander Through Wildlife 

The Willowbank Wildlife Reserve—home of Kune Kune pigs, capuchin monkeys, and the 100% kiwi viewing guarantee.  

And Even More Wildlife 

Or perhaps giraffes, meerkats, and water buffalo are more your jam, so head on over to Orana Park to hang out with a different crowd.

Hang 10 

Who needs Hawaii when you can learn to surf at Sumner’s Scarborough Beach?

Test Your Limits 

Brave Adrenaline Forrest's high-wire obstacle courses to really see what you—and your mates—are made of. Start off easy at only two metres off the ground, then work your way up to test your nerves of steel by clambering around at 25 metres!

Putt Putt 

Play a round of mini-golf at one of the many mini greens in Christchurch.

Venture Out A Little 

It might be out of Christchurch, but definitely worth the trip, the Ōpuke Thermal Pools and Spa is the newest haven on the scene. Treat yourself to a day in the pools, followed by a treatment or two in the spa, and top it all off with a bite to eat in their restaurant. 

Have A Laugh 

Experience the genius that is NZ’s playwrights, actors, comedians, and jesters on stage at the Court Theatre—especially the improvised comedy Scared Scriptless, an absolute classic crowd-pleaser.

Test Your Luck

Try the tables and have a little flutter at Christchurch Casino.

Go Back In Time 

Ōtautahi is rich with history, so why not learn a little more about this big-little city by taking a wander around some heritage buildings, or visiting Fred and Myrtle’s paua shell house at the Canterbury Museum, or maybe checking out the newly opened Ravenscar House. 

Bottoms Up 

Amp up your usual Sunday bite with a bottomless brunch—we recommend the bubbly brunch at Dux Dine.

Play A Quick Round 

With 12 holes right in the city at Hagley Golf Club.

Pick Up A Local Goodie 

A good market can really make a weekend. Take a wander around the best markets in Christchurch and find yourself some beautiful local delights.

Release Your Inner Child 

People enjoy the slide at Margaret Mahy Playground in Christchurch, one of 50 of the best things to do.Image credit: ChristchurchNZ / Supplied

Ask any local and they’ll tell you that the Margaret Mahy Playground is just as much for big kids as it is for little ones. Flying fox race anyone?

Forget Dinner And A Movie 

Step up your next date with a four-course meal in the iconic Tramway Restaurant.  

Get Creative 

Design your own signature scent in Fragranzi's perfume studio. Indulge in all of their starter fragrances before blending and naming your very own to take home. 

Music To My Ears 

There’s nothing like live music from homegrown artists mixed with the sound of cicadas and the company of friends and family on a warm Sunday afternoon—and it’s even better when it’s free. Summer Sundays in the Botanic Gardens make this happen. Every. Single.Week. 

Catch A Bargain

Hop between op-shops to find some unique and affordable new threads. Oh look, here's a list of the best op shops in Christchurch.

Feel Fancy With A Wine Tour 

Never goes amiss, especially when you're chauffeured between wineries on a private minibus!

Head To The Water 

Feel that refreshing sea breeze from atop the New Brighton Pier—another picture-perfect place to watch the sunrise.

Calling All Explorers

Survey the geological wonder that is Kura Tāwhiti (or Castle Hill), just an hour’s drive out of Central Christchurch. The huge limestone rocks will have you in awe, and if you’re a Lord Of The Rings fan, you might recognize the location from a certain scene.

Head To A Gallery 

Set aside a couple of good hours to browse the exhibitions at Christchurch Art Gallery. 

Delve Into The Theatre 

Enjoy a show at the opulent Isaac Theatre Royal. Whether you’re into ballet, comedy shows, plays, or classics like Pulp Fiction or Rocky Horror Picture Show, the Isaac is where it’s at. 

Tick Off Your Bucket List 

A person watches from the water while dolphins frolic nearby.Image credit: Black Cat Cruises / Facebook

Start by swimming with dolphins by diving into the natural habitat of wild Hector’s dolphins…

Did We Mention Penguins And Fur Seals

Admire them from afar on a nature cruise around an extinct volcanic crater and in the stunning Akaroa Harbour.

Something To Get Your Heart Racing 

Get that adrenaline going at the Christchurch Adventure Park—take your pick mountain biking, ziplining, or more easy-going walking trails and finish it all off with a snack at the café.

Take A Trip 

Ferry to the quaint Quail Island for a day’s escape from the city.

Loosen Up With A Picnic 

Pack some snacks, grab some mates and a blanket, and head out to the park.

Hop-On-Hop-Off 

Take a tour of the city on the iconic Christchurch Tram. See the sights through the 17 stops along the way and learn a little something about the rebuild as you go. 

Wind Down With A Book 

Sometimes all you need is to hit the pause for an hour or two, and Tūranga is the perfect place to do just that. This library with its expansive windows sits tall above the rest of the city, so while you peruse a book or a magazine you can get distracted by what’s going on on the ground below. Not to mention the front-row seats to the Cathedral’s rebuild.

Shop Around 

See what delights are on offer at the Riverside Market—easily one of the best additions to Ōtautahi’s urban eatery scene.

Catch A Glimpse Of Aotearoa's Most Beautiful Street 

Regent Street boasts a great selection of boutiques, shops and eateries. Shop among the stunning pastel tones that will have you feeling like you're in La La land. 

Enjoy Golden Hour

At the end of a busy day taking in all Ōtautahi has to offer, watch the sunset over the city from Victoria Park. You’ll be treated to panoramic views from the ocean right over the city to the Southern Alps—an absolutely breathtaking spot.

Looking for more on Christchurch? Check out: 

Main image credit: ChristchurchNZ 

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