Christchurch Arts Centre
The Arts Centre is a campus of striking Gothic Revival heritage buildings that were once home to the University of Canterbury. The center was established in the 1950s, and the original buildings were significantly damaged by the 2011 earthquake; many of the buildings are still closed for strengthening and redevelopment. Nevertheless, the Arts Centre is still a nerve center of Christchurch’s creative community.
Visit studios and stores where potters, jewelers, crafters, and confectioners sell their wares. Explore galleries that host exhibitions year-round, and discover groundbreaking theater at the center’s performance spaces. The kids love Rutherford’s Den, an interactive science museum housed in the rooms where famous scientist Lord Ernest Rutherford studied while at the university. Dive deeper into the center’s rich history with a guided heritage tour, held on Sundays at 1:30pm.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Arts Centre is a must for art lovers, shopaholics, and first-time visitors to Christchurch.
The weekly Arts Centre Market (Mākete) takes place every Sunday, with stalls selling local produce and unique arts and crafts.
The Arts Centre is currently home to the University of Canterbury’s Classics and Music departments, and the Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities displays the classics department’s extensive collection.
If you need lunch or a coffee, a range of eateries and cafés in the Arts Centre are open throughout the week.
Most of the ground-floor galleries and stores are accessible to wheelchair users, who also gain free entry to Rutherford’s Den because it is spread across multiple floors.
How to Get There
Located right in the center of Christchurch, across the road from the Botanic Gardens, the Arts Centre is easy to get to. The iconic Christchurch Tram stops outside, and the number 17 bus stops on Rolleston Avenue, a short walk away. If driving, there is plenty of parking on Worcester Boulevard and in nearby Market Square.
When to Get There
When to visit depends on your reasons for visiting, as different organizations and spaces have their own opening hours. If you want to shop or are curious about the center’s history, Sundays are perfect: arrive in the morning, browse the market, then take a guided heritage tour. Art aficionados should time their visit with an exhibition or with the city’s Bread & Circus – World Buskers Festival (usually starting in mid-January).
Events at the Arts Centre
The Arts Centre is always buzzing, whether it’s an outdoor cinema screening, public art exhibition, or lunchtime concert. It’s also a common hub for festivals in the city, including the world-famous Bread & Circus – World Buskers Festival. This extravaganza of comedy, theater, circus, dance, and more takes over the city every January, and many acts play free outdoor shows at the Arts Centre.
- Canterbury Museum
- Avon River
- Christchurch Tram
- Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial
- Christchurch Botanic Gardens
- Hagley Park
- New Regent Street
- Bridge of Remembrance
- Transitional Cathedral (Cardboard Cathedral)
- Cashel Street
- The Court Theatre
- TranzAlpine Train
- Mona Vale
- Air Force Museum of New Zealand
- Willowbank Wildlife Reserve