Central Christchurch is in the process of being re-built following the earthquake and some of the worst damaged streets are still off limits. You can, however, access the city centre and have a wander around if you are interested in seeing what's happening, and the Re:START pop up mall on Cashel Street is definitely worth a visit. Here a number of local retailers have moved in to shipping containers to create a vibrant and colourful temporary shopping mall. There are food caravans and often street entertainment, as well as a market on the weekend and a lively atmosphere belying the recent troubles.

Christchurch and the Surrounding Area

Central Christchurch is in the process of being re-built following the earthquake and some of the worst damaged streets are still off limits. You can, however, access the city centre and have a wander around if you are interested in seeing what's happening, and the Re:START pop up mall on Cashel Street is definitely worth a visit. Here a number of local retailers have moved in to shipping containers to create a vibrant and colourful temporary shopping mall. There are food caravans and often street entertainment, as well as a market on the weekend and a lively atmosphere belying the recent troubles.

Further afield, there are many ways in which to pass some time around the Canterbury Region:

Based near the airport, the Antarctic Centre is one of Christchurch's top attractions and is the official base for New Zealand, Italy and America's Antarctic programs, making it the best way to experience the frozen continent without actually going there. Why not take a gentle ride on the Christchurch gondola to the summit complex at the top of the Port Hills. Take in the spectacular panoramic 360-degree views which include Christchurch city, Lyttelton Harbour, Banks Peninsula, Canterbury Plains and the distant peaks of the Southern Alps.

Christchurch boasts several lovely beach-front suburbs with a distinctly laid-back feel. New Brighton is easily accessible and opens out on to a beautifully sweeping, sandy beach that stretches northwards all the way to the Wamakariri estuary. Just north of New Brighton is Bottle Lake Forest Park, which is a great place for walking and cycling, with numerous well-marked tracks weaving through the forest and out on to the beach via windswept sand-dunes. South-east of the city is the suburb of Sumner, a small community with a number of boutique shops and galleries to be perused.

Just a little bit further past Sumner is Godley Head, a volcanic headland and coastal defence heritage site with military defence structures remaining from World War II, many restored by the local heritage trust to enable better access to them. Apart from the historic significance, from here there are also breathtaking views over Lyttelton Harbour and northwards along Pegasus Bay - on a clear day you can see as far as the Seaward Kaikoura Range mountains.

Further afield there are numerous activities to choose from in the surrounding region, from jet boating and white water rafting on the Waimakariri River, to hot air ballooning over the Canterbury plains. Additionally Willowbank Wildlife Reserve is a great place to learn about the New Zealand wildlife, especially the iconic Kiwi bird as they have an on-site breeding programme and this is one of the few places in the South Island where you have the opportunity to see these elusive creatures in their natural habitat.

Take a look at a Comprehensive list of Christchurch's / Canterbury's Festivals


Christchurch's Day Trips & Excursions

Easygoing Cycling Tour of Christchurch

Christchurch is a perfect city to explore by bike because it is flat, and has many purpose build cycle-ways, so it is perfect for biking, also being known as New Zealand’s Garden City its quite pretty as well. Lead at a nice relaxed pace around the city’s top attractions to maximize your viewing experience this tour is suitable for all fitness levels.
 
Spending two hours with a friendly and entertaining Kiwi guide is a great intro into the culture and feel for our city. The comfortable retro style bikes are used, each with a basket on the front for your bag and camera are built for comfort ... not speed!!! Modern helmets are provided.
 
What do you get to see: The Arts Centre, New Regent Street , Antigua Boatsheds , Cathedral Square, , Christ’s College, Riccarton House, Hagley Park, & Deans Bush, Deans Cottage, Mona Vale Gardens & Fernery.

Christchurch Cycling Tour

Punting the Avon River

Enjoy the Avon River as it meanders its way through the Garden City with Venice like canal boats punting up and down. In the 1880's punts became recreational, and a saloon was introduced. In the saloon, comfortably cushioned, four passengers lounged in Victorian splendor, while those on deck took shelter beneath parasols – Perhaps you should bring along a nice bottle of wine to compliment the scenery.
Sit back and relax in a custom built beautifully upholstered punt as your boatman guides you past the sights of the central city. Enjoy the tranquillity and calm which is uniquely Christchurch.

Punting on Avon River

Lyttelton Harbour Wildlife Cruise

Just over hill and 15 minutes from Christchurch (free shuttle bus) is a scenic wonderland teeming with wildlife and history. Lyttelton Harbour was born from the molten fires of a long extinct super volcano. Today cruise the sheltered waters on a two hour voyage of discovery. Enjoy the very rare Hector’s Dolphin - the world’s smallest. See Little Blue Penguins, spotted shags, terns and gulls. Learn about these and more in your skipper’s fascinating commentary – as well as tales from the area’s geological and human history: islands, forts, Maori sites and colonial settlements and much more…

Lyttleton Wildlife Cruise

Māori Cultural Evening Christchurch

There are two ‘MUST SEEs’ when visiting New Zealand and those are seeing a Kiwi (bird) and experiencing a Maori Cultural performance. And here is the perfect tour that does both. In addition you will enjoy a delicious buffet dinner and see the city's night lights.

Willowbank Wildlife Reserve is your venue this evening and it is here you will be treated to a truly memorable cultural performance with a Traditional Maori concert consisting of Maori greetings, action songs, poi dances, and hakas. Enjoy a carvery style dinner before joining a guided tour of the reserve where you will see the Kiwi bird in their natural habitat, and other interesting New Zealand natives. On returning to the city you will be treated to a guided night tour of the citys night lights.

Maori Culture Evening

Southern Alps Balloon Flight

Day-break is the best time to fly, with conditions clear, cool, calm and stable; perfect for a gentle drift. A balloon ride over this landscape may leave you surprisingly lacking in words to describe the experience. On a fine day, you can expect to see a full 300km (186 miles) panorama with views of the mighty Aoraki Mt Cook and the full array of the Southern Alps, see the vast patchwork of fields that is the Canterbury plains and the Rakaia River (one of the world's finest examples of a braided river system) and of course the Pacific Ocean. The flight is approximately 1 hour long, and it includes a celebratory glass of chilled champagne (or fruit juice) after landing in a farmer's field.

Southern Alps Balloon Flight

Clearwater Resort Golf Course

Home to the NZPGA Championship, part of the European Tour and a ‘must play’ on any NZ Golf holiday is Clearwater Resort golf course. There are elements of links and parkland golf at Clearwater course with an abundance of water. The resort’s 15 hectares of lakes are fed by natural springs and crystal clear streams that are teeming with trout. Water comes into play at 14 of the holes with numerous grass hazards of tussocks and marram grasses. There are five-position tees, including the championship tees which are rated by NZ Golf Association as the toughest in the country.

Clearwater Golf Resort

TranzAlpine TrainAlpine Arthur's Pass Hike

No other Christchurch day tours offer you all this: The TranzAlpine train, a guided walk in Arthurs Pass National Park and scenic drive back along the Great Alpine Highway. All this in the same day tour and back in Christchurch in time for dinner! The spectacular TranzAlpine Train takes you across the Canterbury Plains into high country and in to the spectacular Arthur's Pass National Park. Here you have the choice of a scenic nature tour with interpretations and short walks or a guided hike into the mountains.
 
You will be picked up from your accommodation and transferred to Arthur's Pass either by TranzAlpine train or mini coach depending on your tour choice. Your journey will take you west across the rich agricultural belt of the Canterbury Plains to Springfield where you will have the opportunity to take photos of the mountains rising above you. For those taking the train the journey through the gorge is spectacular before you make your way to the high mountains of the Southern Alps and Arthur's Pass.

TranzAlpine