Our top sights, highlights and exclusive tips
Christchurch is a South Island city that combines innovative architectural design with outdoors activities. Visit the boutique emporium The Tannery after a day at the beach in the suburb of Sumner. Enjoy a gondola ride along the Avon River in Hagley Park. On an easy Sunday morning, check out the Christchurch Art Gallery, a place that combines design with expression. Landscapes such as the Banks Peninsula delivers with pleasing peak-top views of a modern city by the ocean.
International Antarctic Centre
Christchurch Botanic Gardens
The Arts Centre
The Riccarton Market
Enjoy a slice of Antarctica at the International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch. After experiencing a storm that blows at -8 °C, hop on the Hägglund ride that’ll take you on a tour over icy crevasses. Nip in to a store room and be chilled before entering the huskie zone for a hands-on experience with these tireless pack animals.
Christchurch’s Botanic Gardens began with a single oak tree in 1863. Today, 21 hectares and 10 gardens house annual bedding displays that include a pinked rose garden. An archery lawn punctuated by mature trees and pond is the perfect spot to enjoy a snack as flowers bloom around you. A canopy of oak and silver birch trees in the Azalea Garden blankets azaleas that bloom from August to October.
At 160 hectares, Hagley Park is Christchurch’s largest urban area and bordered by three main city avenues. Both a museum and botanic garden is here for your enjoyment. The snaking Avon River winds through the middle of open grasslands full of mature trees and blossoming flowers, inviting you to hop off land and go punting in a flat-bottomed boat.
Within the grounds of Hagley Park, The Canterbury Museum hosts annual exhibitions that range from the Antarctic to Christchurch born speedway champion, Ivan Mauger. A particularly poignant exhibition titled Quake City focuses on the heroism and hope of locals during the Canterbury earthquakes and the city’s liquidation. As you tour the rooms of this spacious building, take time to admire the gothic architecture complete with pointed arches.
The Arts Centre is a cultural celebration that focuses on New Zealand art, science, and education through exhibitions, public talks, and interactive displays. The building itself is centrally located and comes with boutique shops that sell handcrafted gifts, and restaurants. Once home to Canterbury College, the centre hosts a weekly Sunday market where local artisans showcase quality crafts and local delicacies made even tastier with a cup of tea.
Well worth some of your time, Cardboard Cathedral was used as a temporary place of worship after the 2011 earthquake. Constructed as an A frame from 98 cardboard tubes and eight steel containers, it’s considered one of the safest buildings in Christchurch. Visit a cathedral that was designed by Japanese architect, Shigeru Ban.
The Riccarton Market is a popular Sunday destination for visitors and locals. Located within the grounds of a central racecourse, hundreds of stalls invite a rummage that lead to eclectic findings. There’s also live music and performances to be enjoyed as you hunt for a unique purchase. Whether clothes, jewellery, or eateries, an afternoon spent at this market will be one full of fun and findings.
An hour’s drive from Christchurch is the town of Akaroa, which translates from Māori to mean “Long Harbour.” The bay is excellent for a sea kayak that can include entering coves if the weather permits. The harbour is dotted with sail boats used to tour you along the coast to see Hector’s dolphins, penguins, and seals. Visit Paua Bay Hill Country Farm on Banks Peninsula and learn about French settlers as sheepdogs work the land.
There are few bad decisions to be made when you visit the Banks Peninsula. Perhaps a hike through rolling green hills enthrals you? Or maybe you wish to closer inspect the volcanic caldera that’s played no small part in shaping the land? The turquoise waters that surround the bay of Lyttelton is a great spot to enjoy a sunset after a day horse riding through a peninsula steeped in Māori history.
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