The Best Things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand

The 15 Best Things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand

Christchurch is the place to go when you’re seeking adventure, excitement, and a place unlike any other. What makes this city stand out from the rest in New Zealand is that it’s constantly changing and advancing. So even if you’ve been there before, chances are it looks a lot different today than when you visited.

Thought-provoking street art, innovative pop-up restaurants, and creative projects that invite both locals and visitors to get involved means there’s always something new and interesting to do here! From undulating mountains that reward hikers with breathtaking views and some of the most delicious seafood you’ve ever eaten to all kinds of adrenaline-pumping challenges, you’ll never be stuck for what to do in Christchurch.

With so many amazing things to see and do, you may have no idea where to begin. To give you a helping hand, we’ve put together a list of the absolute best things to do in Christchurch. Add these fun activities and attractions to your Christchurch bucket list, and you’re guaranteed to have a fantastic time exploring one of the world’s most unique destinations! 

15 Fun and Unique Things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand

1. Visit the Christchurch Adventure Park

Best Things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand: Christchurch Adventure Park

If you’re ready to find out what you’re made of, spending a day at the Christchurch Adventure Park is one of the must-do things in Christchurch. This incredible spot is home to some of the best ziplines in the country, where you can zoom through the air at staggeringly high speeds and see the world like a bird does. On a clear day, you can even see all the way to the Southern Alps and the Pacific Ocean! 

As well as the exciting ziplines, the Christchurch Adventure Park also boasts the longest chairlift in New Zealand. It’s a whopping 1.1 miles long and gently whisks you away to the beginning of the ziplining area. If ziplining isn’t your thing, you can book the chairlift ride on its own. You can still see remarkable views from where it drops you off. 

Cool Things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand: Christchurch Adventure Park

Here you’ll also find a handful of free walking trails that take you to gorgeous viewpoints and 46 unique mountain biking trails. Biking equipment is available to rent on-site, and the trails are wonderfully varied, with something for all levels.

2. Ride the Christchurch Gondola

Fun Things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand: Christchurch Gondola

You’ll find one of the best Christchurch sightseeing opportunities from the top of the Christchurch Gondola. From the summit station, you’ll be amazed by panoramic views that stretch across Christchurch City, Lyttelton Harbor, Canterbury Plains, Pegasus Bay, the Southern Alps, and the Pacific Ocean. Make sure your phone is fully charged because you’ll be taking pictures non-stop!

You don’t have to wait until you’re at the top to enjoy the views. The vistas along the gondola journey are just as fantastic. The gondola travels just over 0.6 miles to reach the top, and the journey takes around 10 minutes, so there’s always time to squeeze it in. 

When you arrive at the summit, you’ll be spoiled for choice with things to see and do. Up here, you’ll find countless walking trails, a cute gift shop, the quirky Red Rock Cafe, and the Christchurch Discovery Ride, where you can learn all about the history of the local area in a speedy 7-minute journey. 

3. Explore Christchurch by Historic Tram

Christchurch, New Zealand Things to do: Christchurch Tram

One of the most unique things to do in Christchurch is to step back in time and discover what it was like to explore the city years ago onboard a historic tram. While Christchurch may be one of the youngest cities in the world, it still has a fascinatingly rich history to discover.

The historic Christchurch Tram works in a similar way to the hop-on, hop-off buses you find throughout major cities. The tram follows a single route, but you can get on or off at any of the 18 stops whenever you like, however many times you like. You can even stay onboard for the full loop and see all kinds of fascinating places during your 50-minute ride.

Some of the most popular places the tram passes include the Botanic Gardens, Canterbury Museum, New Regent Street, Avon River, and Margaret Mahy Playground. No matter where you decide to get off, you’ll find yourself in a buzzing neighborhood surrounded by attractions, cafes, bars, restaurants, and stores.

4. Walk around the Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Best Things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand: Christchurch Botanic Gardens

When you need a break from all the lively things to do in Christchurch, take it easy and wander around the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. This gorgeous green space covers an unbelievable 52 acres and is a wonderful place to stroll and simply enjoy nature.

What makes this botanic garden special is that it has different sections dedicated to the various seasons. The spring section is teeming with bright yellow daffodils, while the summer section is brimming with sweet-smelling roses in every color. Visiting Christchurch in winter? No worries – there are plenty of indoor conservatories you can check out to keep warm. 

One of the best things about the gardens is that there are little pieces of artwork and sculptures dotted all over the place, so you never know what you may find. There’s also a fun playground for kids and even a paddling pool that’s open during the summer. A great option if you’re on a budget, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens are completely free to explore.

5. Devour Fresh Crayfish

Fun Things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand: Crayfish

Love seafood? Then you’ve absolutely got to try crayfish when you’re in Christchurch. This local delicacy is caught in the waters surrounding the city throughout the year, so you’ll always be able to find it fresh, no matter when you travel. But you’ll find it most abundant between February and May when many fish and seafood restaurants will offer all kinds of creative specials for very reasonable prices. 

If you’ve never had it before, crayfish tastes like a cross between lobster and shrimp. The meat has a deliciously subtle sweet-nutty flavor that’s so good you don’t need to pair it with anything. Crayfish has a texture that’s similar to lobster, but it’s even more tender and juicy. 

The Fisherman’s Wharf is one of the very best places to get crayfish in Christchurch. This amazing seafood restaurant is located in Lyttleton and dishes up a vast range of fresh fish and seafood caught that very day. They only serve crayfish when it’s at its finest (February-May), so try it if your trip coincides with those months. Even if it doesn’t, we still suggest going there for the fabulous weekend breakfasts. 

6. Hike the Godley Head Loop Track

Christchurch, New Zealand Bucket List: Godley Head Loop Track

For some of the best sights in Christchurch, escape the city center and follow the Godley Head Loop Track. One of the very best hikes in South Island, this trail is around 5.8 miles long and takes roughly 3 hours to complete. It’s intermediate level, so you should have decent footwear and have done a few trails of similar length before tackling this one. 

Along the walk, you’ll have the chance to see all kinds of fascinating sights, from the Kaikoura Ranges and the Banks Peninsula to various hidden spots in Christchurch and even some WWII sites. If you’re lucky, you’ll even get to see a penguin colony frolicking on one of the city’s gorgeous beaches!

The walk begins and ends at Taylors Mistake car park, where you can see what’s left of some ancient cave houses built into the cliffs. There are many spectacular highlights along the trail. Some of our favorites are beautiful observation decks, engrossing gun platforms, and the Godley Head coastal defense battery.  

7. Attend the World Buskers Festival

Must do things in Christchurch, New Zealand: World Buskers Festival

Planning your trip for New Zealand’s summer? Then you’re in luck! January is when you’ll find one of the coolest things to do in Christchurch – the World Buskers Festival. During this crazy festival, the city becomes a circus for two weeks, with all kinds of weird and wonderful performances happening throughout almost every public spot.

From talented trapeze artists swinging over the bushes of Hagley Park and burlesque dancers showing off their talents around the Hagley Oval cricket pitch to Parisian mimes pretending to play tug-o-war along the banks of the Avon River and walking discos that flow throughout the streets, there’s so much going on during the World Buskers Festival that you’ll feel exhausted just from watching.

The festival aims to be as inclusive as possible, so there are special performances for adults, families, and little ones. Better still, while some of the events require tickets, a lot of them are free to enjoy. There’s a detailed itinerary on the official website, so check it out and use it to help plan your trip.

8. Go Jet Boating on the Waimakariri River

Best Things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand: Waimakariri River

Put on your brave face and head to the Waimakariri River. This is where you’ll find one of the most exciting Christchurch attractions – jet boating. Tip: do as the locals do and call the river “The Waimak.” Its nickname is much easier to pronounce!

There are three different jet boating options along this exciting river. The calmest option is 30 minutes long and is designed to be relatively slow-going so you can enjoy as much of the scenery as possible. There’s a more challenging option that lasts 90 minutes and shoots you through the shifting, shallow, and ever-changing courses of the shingle-bottom river.

Cool Things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand: Waimakariri River

If you want to experience the best that the Waikmakariri River has to offer, we suggest booking the longest package the jet boating tour company provides. This lasts 4.5 hours and is known as the Jet Boat Safari Tour. 

It follows a path along the upper Waimakariri Gorge which you can’t get to any other way. You’ll zoom along the snow-fed waters of the river through canyons and gorges. The scenery you see and the adrenaline you feel are indescribable. 

9. Watch the Sunset from New Brighton Pier

Fun Things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand: New Brighton Pier

You’ll find one of the best things to see in Christchurch at New Brighton Pier. This impressive pier is the longest of its kind in Australasia. It stretches out to sea for a whopping 984 feet. It was made way back in 1894 out of wood and was completely demolished in 1965 because it was falling apart. The pier you can see today was built out of concrete and opened up in 1997.

New Brighton Pier looks fairly normal during the day, but just wait until the sun begins to set. The view of the totally calm sea reflecting the reds, pinks, oranges, and purples of the sky as the dazzling sun dips below the horizon looks like something knocked up in Photoshop. Hang around until the sun has completely disappeared and you’ll get to see the pier illuminated with hundreds of twinkling LED lights. 

If you’re into architecture and history, there’s an award-winning cafe with loads of information about New Brighton Pier at the beginning. There’s also a cafe and a restaurant if you need a break. 

10. Mix It Up with a Kiwi Burger

Must do things in Christchurch, New Zealand: Kiwi Burger

You may not think you’re eating local food if you’re seeking out a burger in Christchurch, but a Kiwi burger isn’t any old burger. This unique fast food item is made up of a regular beef patty layered with the usual toppings (lettuce, tomato, onion, etc.) as well as sliced beets and a fried egg, all sandwiched inside a burger bun. It sounds totally bizarre, but you’ve got to try it!

Kiwi burgers are so popular that you’ll find them in pretty much every single restaurant that has a burger menu. You can even find them at every McDonald’s location throughout the city. 

Burger Burger does one of the very best Kiwi burgers you’ll find in Christchurch. This cool and trendy burger joint dishes up their local burger made from a 6 oz beef patty with bacon, aged cheddar, pickles, cos lettuce, tomato, a fried egg, beets, tomato jam, mustard, and mayonnaise.

Not sure a Kiwi burger is quite your thing? There are plenty of other drool-worthy burgers to choose from here, too. We love the Old Smokey burger with bacon, caramelized onions, smoked aged cheddar, and BBQ sauce!

11. Take New Zealand’s Most Scenic Rail Journey

Christchurch, New Zealand Things to do: TranzAlpine Train

One of the top things to do in Christchurch is to ride the TranzAlpine train from the city to Greymouth. This remarkable trip is widely regarded as the most scenic journey in New Zealand and we certainly aren’t going to argue.

During the magnificent ride, you’ll get to see Arthurs Pass and the Southern Alps, both of which are too beautiful for words. To make sure you don’t miss a single moment of the scenery, there are several open-air viewing areas on the train, so you don’t have to look at your surroundings through glass. The TranzAlpine train even stops at the best scenic points so you can take clear photos. 

What to do in Christchurch, New Zealand: TranzAlpine Train

The train departs from Christchurch on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and the journey takes around 4.5 hours to complete, covering 139 miles in total. While you’re free to return on the same day, riding on a train for 9 hours can be a little rough – even if the scenery is astounding. Because of this, we suggest that you spend the night in Greymouth and travel back to Christchurch in the morning.

12. Visit the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

Best Things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand: Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

Spending the day at the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve is one of the most fun things to do in Christchurch. The reserve does an excellent job of taking care of its residents, and all the animals are incredibly well looked after and kept in large habitats designed to reflect their homes in the wild.

The reserve is divided into three different types of animals: exotic animals, local animals from New Zealand, and domestic farmyard animals. The exotic section is where you’ll discover a ring-tailed lemur, gibbons, iguanas, and emus, while the New Zealand section is home to morepork, kea, kaka, tuatara, possums, and (of course!) kiwis. Thanks to the reserve’s glass-free nocturnal kiwi house, you’re guaranteed to see at least one kiwi during your visit.

Cool Things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand: Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

Finally, the domestic farmyard animal section is reserved for peacocks, Clydesdale horses, miniature ponies, llamas, and alpacas – basically, all the species you’d expect to spot in farms throughout New Zealand. 

If you want to get up close and personal with the park’s residents, you can sign up for one of the encounters. Depending on the one you choose, you could have the chance to become a beekeeper for a day or even feed the gibbons. 

13. Get Tipsy at the Great Kiwi Beer Festival

Unique Things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand: Great Kiwi Beer Festival

If you’re in the mood to let your hair down, time your trip so it coincides with the Great Kiwi Beer Festival. One of the best things to do in Christchurch, this lively event takes place every year in January on the sprawling lawns of Hagley Park. It has an upbeat, welcoming vibe – like a party that everyone’s invited to!

The Great Kiwi Beer Festival is an excellent opportunity to try different beers from all over the world. You’ll find loads of stalls set up on the grass offering everything from dark stouts and fruity ales to hoppy lagers and even ciders. If you’re not really a fan of beer, most stalls will be happy to give you a small sample so you can try before you buy.

If you absolutely hate the stuff, you’ll find a few stalls dotted throughout the festival selling soft drinks, cocktails, mixed drinks, and wine. Everyone is catered for here.

As well as the beer stalls, the festival also features a bunch of live performances by local rock bands. It’s an excellent way to spend a relaxing day after all that Christchurch sightseeing.

14. Discover Antarctica in New Zealand

Christchurch, New Zealand Bucket List: International Antarctic Center

If you’re looking for things to do in Christchurch on your last day, check out the International Antarctic Center. It’s close to the Christchurch Airport, so you can stop by on your way home. 

This unique attraction lets you find out what life is like in Antarctica – all without leaving New Zealand! Here you can explore the Storm Dome, where you’ll discover just how cold it gets in Antarctica. There’s also a 4D cinema where you can watch phenomenal footage of the Antarctic, plus a Hagglund (an amphibious Antarctic vehicle) which you can actually ride.

Fun Things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand: International Antarctic Center

One of the highlights of the International Antarctic Center is the Penguin Rescue Center. Here you’ll have the chance to see cute blue penguins up close. For an even more immersive experience, head to the Cuddle Zone. Here you’ll get to meet loads of huskies of all ages, which you can play with and cuddle as much as you like. 

The International Antarctic Center is one of those places where time just flies by. If you are planning on going before you head to the airport, we suggest leaving at least 4 hours to spend here so you don’t miss your flight.

15. Try Manuka Honey

Must do things in Christchurch, New Zealand: Manuka Honey

Did you know that the famous Manuka honey comes from New Zealand? This highly sought-after product is so popular because it has so many incredible health benefits. If you’d like to pick up some for yourself or others, Christchurch is a fantastic place to do so.

The thing with Manuka honey is that the purer it is, the better for you, and the more expensive it is. But since it comes from New Zealand, this is the cheapest place you’ll find it. Manuka honey is so loved you’ll find it almost anywhere, from farmers’ markets and supermarkets to pharmacies and dedicated honey stores. 

What to do in Christchurch, New Zealand: Manuka Honey

Manuka South is one of the best places in the city to get Manuka honey. Here you’ll find it in every possible form, from capsules and face creams to extracts and straight-up Manuka honey that you can use in recipes. It has such a distinct and wonderful flavor that you’ll never want to bother with any other type of honey again!

There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Christchurch. What’s your favorite thing to do in Christchurch? 



  • Nicola Quinn

    Nicola is a freelance writer with an insatiable hunger for travel. She swapped her home in the UK for the sunny Canary Islands when she was just 11 and she has been based there ever since.

    From crawling on her hands and knees inside pyramids in Egypt to swimming with baby sharks in Bali and searching (fruitlessly!) for the Northern Lights in Iceland, Nicola takes every chance she gets to explore new places.

    The incredible experiences she has around the world fuels her writing and inspires her to plan even more adventures for the future.

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