Christchurch is a vibrant city packed with things to see and do. Enjoy its eclectic heart, relaxing natural environment and thrilling adventure activities.
Discover Christchurch's Botanic Gardens,(opens in new window) the centrepiece of the 'Garden City'. Take an edible tour, or wander at your own pace among diverse plants, flowers and sculptures. When you're ready to relax, board a punt on the Avon River; it's a truly iconic Christchurch activity.
Pohatu Marine Reserve is home to the largest Little Penguin colony on mainland New Zealand. You can also see Yellow Eyed Penguins here, as they regularly visit the bay. For an unforgettable experience, travel with the guides at Pohatu penguins(opens in new window) as they monitor penguin nesting boxes, and learn about their conservation efforts while enjoying stunning views of Akaroa Harbour. To see penguins returning from the sea, be sure to join their 4WD evening tour.
45 minutes north of Christchurch you’ll find fields of lavender, olive groves, and more than 60 vineyards, with dozens of cellar doors open for wine tasting. Waipara is well known for its Pinot Noir and Reisling, and also provides some fine Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. If you prefer to let someone else do the driving, book a winery tour from Christchurch.
Explore the stunning Port Hills on foot or by bike, only 10 minutes drive from Christchurch and offering panoramic views of Christchurch City and the Southern Alps. The Port Hills are home to native wildlife, the Castle Rock formation and have a rich Māori and European history all ready to be discovered.
A 2 hour drive from Christchurch brings you to Arthurs Pass National Park, a natural wilderness of beech forests and rivers. You can enjoy a range of short walks that start from the village nearby; including The Devil's Punchbowl Falls, Bridal Veil Track, Historic Village Walk, Temple Basin and the Dobson Nature Walk. While wandering the beautiful bush tracks keep an eye out for the local Kea bird, an alpine parrot known for its cheeky and curious nature.
The TranzAlpine journey(opens in new window) through the Southern Alps is one of the most scenic train rides in the world. Beginning in Christchurch, you’ll travel through the patchwork Canterbury Plains up into Arthur’s Pass National Park. From here, you’ll venture down into the wild beech forests of the West Coast, finishing in Greymouth. The trip takes four hours one way, or nine hours return with a one-hour break in Greymouth.
A trip to Christchurch isn't complete without a visit to Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa(opens in new window). Only 90 minutes drive from Christchurch, Hanmer Springs offers the perfect balance of fun and relaxation, with different levels of thrills on the waterslides, and a selection of hot pools including aqua therapy, hexagonal pools, rock pools and sulphur pools - leaving you feel relaxed and refreshed.
While visiting Hanmer Springs you can pick up the pace and take an action packed jet boat trip through the spectacular scenery of the Waiau River. Your skipper will expertly navigate through the narrow passes, white water rapids and shallows with 360 degree spins along the way.
Experience the dynamic heart of Christchurch with its historic buildings, cardboard cathedral, colourful street art and container shopping mall. Ride the historic tram or settle into one of the eclectic cafés; C1 espresso and Dose Diner are local favourites. Don't miss New Zealand's number one restaurant, Roots in Lyttelton(opens in new window), just 20 minutes' drive from downtown.
The village of Akaroa, just 90 minutes drive from Christchurch, is abundant in marine life, including the smallest dolphins in the world, the Hectors Dolphin. Head out with Akaroa Dolphins to explore the coastline and marvel at these unique creatures, or contact Black Cat Cruises(opens in new window) for your chance to get up close, swimming alongside as they play.