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Things to do in Christchurch

Things to do in  Christchurch

Welcome to Christchurch

Known for its Anglo-influenced architecture and well-manicured gardens, the South Island city of Christchurch is the epicenter of New Zealand’s colonial heritage. But for all its inherited English charm, Christchurch is a modern Kiwi city in the midst of a rebirth following the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. Visitors enjoy peaceful punt rides down the Avon River, visits to the verdant Christchurch Botanic Gardens, and gondola rides into the Port Hills. Expansive Hagley Park offers city dwellers space to stroll among the cherry trees, jog or hike on the on the numerous trails, or relax and set up a picnic; while bustling New Regent Street is lined with shops, restaurants, and sidewalk cafes serving up regional specialties. Christchurch also acts as a home base for day trips to points further afield. Visitors can taste wine vinted from homegrown grapes in the Waipara wine region, explore Arthur’s Pass National Park, or summit the formidable Mt. Cook. Departures for the Banks Peninsula and Akaroa Harbor offer the opportunity to see the South Island’s picturesque physical features, and a trip on the TranzAlpine Train, which runs daily from Christchurch to Greymouth on the west coast, takes passengers on what is considered New Zealand’s most scenic train ride.

Top 10 attractions in Christchurch

#1

Pegasus Bay Winery and Restaurant

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Pegasus Bay Winery is a family-owned and run winery and restaurant located in the Waipara Valley, north of Christchurch. Pegasus Bay wines are made with estate-grown fruit from the Donaldson family’s vineyards. The Donaldsons have been growing grapes and making wine since the early 1970s. A husband, wife and three sons team, the family uses natural methods, and the winery produces a sauvignon, Reisling, chardonnay, pinot noir, merlot and cabernet. The winery is also known for half a dozen reserve wines.More
#2

TranzAlpine Train

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Praised as one of the most incredibly scenic train journeys in the world, the TranzAlpine chugs its way from Christchurch to Greymouth, via Arthur's Pass, daily. Making its way from one coast of New Zealand to the other, from the Pacific Ocean to the Tasman Sea, the train crosses the broad expanse of the Canterbury Plains to climb the Alps via a series of four viaducts and 19 tunnels known as the Staircase. The train journey reveals a stunning sequence of valleys, mountains and Southern Alps, including river valleys covered in beech rainforests, sky-mirrored lakes and snowcapped peaks. The train carriages include group and individual seating, plus there’s an open-air carriage for top-quality photo opportunities. Food and beverages are available on board.More
#3

Christchurch Tram

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Hop aboard a vintage tram for a leisurely tour of central Christchurch. It’s the most relaxing, fun way to get your bearings and see the city's attractions and landmarks. The trams leave from Cathedral Square in downtown Christchurch. The route then crosses Worcester Bridge over the River Avon, loops past the Botanic Gardens and travels along past the shops of Armagh Street. All trams have an informative on-board commentary. Why not combine sightseeing on wheels with your evening meal, and take an evening ride on the Restaurant Tram? The colonial-style tram has every comfort, and the menu features local lamb and seafood.More
#4

Christchurch Botanic Gardens

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Christchurch is known as the garden city, an Anglophile settlement of well-tended gardens and tree-lined streets. Pride of place in this flower-loving town goes to the Botanic Gardens, attractively set within a loop of the winding Avon River. The gardens are planted with thousands of exotic and indigenous plants, with particular note going to its lime tree walkways, inviting lawns and seasonal flowers such as magnolias, azaleas and roses. A number of conservatories protect a range of species, including desert plants, tropical blooms, begonias, alpine plants and orchids. The gardens are an ideal location for a picnic, or to find a relaxing spot for an hour or two, away from the bustle of the city.More
#5

New Regent Street

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When first constructed in the 1930s, New Regent Street was famously lauded as “the most beautiful street in New Zealand.” Today, after the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, the street has rebuilt its colorful façade—built in a Spanish Mission style—where colorful, two-story buildings host retailers, restaurants, coffee shops, and cafés. When the street was first built in the Great Depression, only 3 of the original 40 buildings were occupied by lease-paying tenants, due to the economic hardships of the time and the tenants’ inability to pay rent. Gradually, an increasing number of businesses were established, and the street was reconstructed as a pedestrian mall in 1994. When the fateful Christchurch earthquakes struck, New Regent Street was one of the first places to rebuild and reopen its doors—though many repairs were only temporary and are in need of a permanent fix.More
#6

Hagley Park

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Without a doubt, Hagley Park is the greenest, most relaxing, yet also most happening 1 sq. mile in Christchurch. On the relaxing side, this central park offers dozens of opportunities for leisurely moments in the city. Paddle the waters of the Avon River which borders the park on one side, or spend an hour sniffing through the botanical gardens which are completely surrounded by the park. Lay a blanket on the expanse of grass and enjoy a midsummer picnic, or photograph the wildflowers which famously bloom as the park comes alive in the spring. For as mellow as Hagley Park can be, however, it can rapidly change into a pulsing gathering place during one of the numerous Christchurch festivals. At large events such as the World Buskers Festival or the Great Kiwi Beer Festival, tens of thousands of Christchurch locals can descend on the spacious grounds.More
#7

International Antarctic Centre

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Experience everything you want to know about the icy continent of Antarctica at the International Antarctic Centre, from indoor ice storms to ATV rides and penguins. Feeding time at the NZ Penguin encounter is hugely popular, as is the Penguin Backstage Pass tour for an up-close view of these cute creatures. Go for a rough and ready ride on the Hagglund all-terrain vehicle, watch snow being made and throw snowballs, chill out in an ice cave and see the aquarium displays of Antarctic wildlife. Don’t worry about keeping warm: chillproof jackets and overshoes are provided.More
#8

Christchurch Gondola

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Enjoy a bird’s-eye view from more than 1,640 feet (500 meters) above sea level on the Christchurch Gondola. Take in 360-degree views as the Christchurch cityscape competes for your attention with views of the Canterbury Plains, the Southern Alps and the Banks Peninsula. The trip takes 10 minutes each way. The Gondola Base Station is located in Heathcote Valley. Parking is available if you’re coming by car, and the summit Station is at the top of Mt Cavendish. There’s a café and shop in case you need some souvenirs. There are also walking and biking tracks nearby, so come prepared to spend time outside.More
#9

Avon River

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To the native Maori, the Avon River was an area of swampland which was used as a seasonal fishing spot. The area around the rivermouth was mostly uninhabited, and fresh water which trickled from springs was used for sacred healing purposes. Today the Avon is a meandering river which weaves its way through Christchurch, its mellow waters bringing a calming presence to the urban bustle of the city. The river bisects the western suburbs such as Riccarton and Fendalhead, and then passes directly through the center of Christchurch and sprawling Hagley Park. To the east of the city, the Avon finally spills into the Pacific not far from the beach town of Sumner. In downtown Christchurch, punting on the Avon River from Hagley Park is a popular visitor activity. Sit back and relax as expert steersmen push the flat-bottom craft along the river, and watch as peaceful scenes of Christchurch drift along on the banks.More
#10

Christchurch Arts Centre

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The Arts Centre of Christchurch was long the creative hub of the city. Located in Gothic Revival buildings that were once home to the University of Canterbury, the center took a hit in 2011 when a major earthquake damaged 22 of the 23 buildings. The Arts Centre is currently closed to the public, but work is underway to reopen the Art Centre in stages. The site’s origins date back to the late 1800s. Along with the University of Canterbury, the buildings housed a girls and boys high school. Both high schools moved off-site and by the mid-1950s a growing population forced the University to move to a larger campus. That’s when the Arts Centre was created.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 2 Days in Christchurch

How to Spend 2 Days in Christchurch

Ways to Experience Maori Culture in Christchurch

Ways to Experience Maori Culture in Christchurch

Top activities in Christchurch

Christchurch Hop-On Hop-Off Tram

Christchurch Hop-On Hop-Off Tram

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