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What to see and do in Christchurch – a guide to notable attractions and landmarks

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Whether you’re after relaxation or rough-and-tumble, Christchurch and its surrounding region of Canterbury cannot fail to impress. In the city, take a scenic stroll through the greenery of the many parks and gardens, then hop on the gondola for a panoramic vision of ocean and Alps. Drive out of the city and encounter a myriad of activities, from the country sophistication of the vineyards to the wild clear skies of Lake Tepako.

Mike Watt

My Destination local expert on

Christchurch (NZ)

Christchurch is a fascinating city, but if you’re after adventure or just the great outdoors, you’ll need to head out into Canterbury - either inland to one of the incredible national parks or along the coast. Hire a car or join a day tour, and you’ll be able to hike, bike, raft or bungy.

 

River Avon Punting

 

Taking in some of the most picturesque parts of Christchurch, a punt on the winding waters of the River Avon is a must while visiting the city. Sit back and relax in an original English punt, as a blazered boatman guides your craft past the ‘red zone’ affected by the 2011 earthquake and through the blooming Christchurch Botanic Gardens, where trailing willows kiss the water.

 

Banks Peninsula

 

Less than an hour’s drive from Christchurch, the sky blue bays and inlets of Banks Peninsula offer a striking escape from the city. The rural roads here reward visitors with sweeping ocean views at every turn, and quirky campsites abound for those that fancy an overnight stop. The French harbor town of Akaroa is a must-visit, famous for its unique heritage and the rare Hector’s dolphins that grace its shores.

 

Stargazing

 

The remote depths of Canterbury hide a rapidly growing trend for stargazing. Lake Tekapo, three hours from Christchurch, boasts one of the clearest and blackest skies on the globe; perfect for seeking out those magical pinpricks of light. Visit the Mount John Observatory to book a night tour, and marvel at the web of stars through a powerful telescope. Lake Tepako itself is a remarkable attraction, with bright azure waters and rugged surrounds.

 

Adrenaline sports

 

New Zealand seems to have an unnatural share of the world’s adrenaline-inducing activities, and the region of Canterbury is no exception. Skiing is an obvious choice with all the snowy peaks around, and Mount Hutt is popular in the ski season from June to October. If the slopes don’t tempt you, how about rafting on the wild waters of Rangitata River, jet boating at Rakaia Gorge, or making a terrifying bungy leap from Ferry Bridge in the spa town of Hanmer Springs?

 

Christchurch Gondola

 

One of the best ways to view a city is from above, so head south to the Christchurch Gondola and hop into a cosy capsule. This lofty cable car whisks visitors 862m to the top of the Port Hills, with a 360-degree vista of the city, the Southern Alps and Lyttelton Harbor. The adventure doesn’t end there, with an interactive museum, Red Rock Café and shop, and plenty of walking and biking trails.

 

Visit a vineyard

 

If it’s the red – or white – stuff that really piques your interest, then a trip to a winery should be on the cards. Canterbury is one of the oldest grape growing regions on the South Island, with the scenic and vine-strewn Waipara Valley only 30 miles north of Christchurch. Sample rich and spicy pinot noirs here or a pair your tipple with a taste of local food at a vineyard restaurant in the city.