Located in the heart of Christchurch, Hagley Park has been an iconic and integral part of the city since 1855. Offering visitors 165 hectares of mature trees and flowers, recreational areas, walking and running tracks, plus two lakes, its very own golf course, tennis courts, and of course the beautiful Botanic Gardens.
Parking is available off Riccarton Avenue and Armagh Street between 7 am and 9 pm during the summer months, and only until 6.30 pm during winter. Hagley Park itself is open at all times, however, it is recommended you plan your visit during daylight hours for safety and optimal viewing reasons. There are public toilets, free BBQs, and picnic tables for use spread throughout the park for your convenience.
Christchurch Botanic Gardens
Set among the borders of Hagley Park, the Botanic Gardens showcases many of New Zealand’s native species, as well as exotic trees, flowers and plants, and a large collection of roses. Keep an eye out for the annual bedding flowering gardens, the Azalea and Magnolia Garden, the Heritage Rose Garden, the Water Garden, and many more.
The best way to ensure you don’t miss anything is to pick up a Botanic Gardens Map from the Visitor Centre across the bridge and to the left of the main Botanic Gardens car parking with the access of Rolleston Avenue. The Botanic Gardens are open every day, from 7 am to 9 pm during summer and as early as 6.30 pm during winter. The Visitor Center and adjoining cafe are open from 9 am to 5 pm daily except on Christmas Day (25th December).
Riccarton Bush, Gardens And House
Twelve hectares of established native forest is what sets Riccarton Bush apart from the rest. Ancient kahikatea, totara, matai, and hinau are to be found here along with simply stunning levels of birdlife thanks to the predator-proof fence that surrounds the reserve.
Be sure to visit the historic Riccarton House Gardens while you are there and be amazed by the azaleas and Rhododendrons. The historic Riccarton House is also a great place to visit although entry to the house is by guided tour only (tours depart Monday to Friday 2 pm, Sunday 11 am and 2 pm). Guided garden and bush tours are available.
Bottle Lake Forest Park
This working exotic Pine forest has a great range of tracks and trails for mountain bikers, walkers, runners and it even allows horse riding. Bottle Lake is located just on the outskirts of Christchurch along the coastline to the North. Take a wander through this peaceful park, or walk partway through the trees and then make your way out along the beach to change it up a little.
The main car park for Bottle Lake is off Waitikiri Drive, gates are open between 6 am and 10 pm daily. The park does have one set of toilets located in the carpark. Some areas are marked out of bounds, this is because this is a working forest park meaning there is likely to be logging, pruning, and other forestry-related activities going on at one any time.
Halswell Quarry Park
To the south of Christchurch is the Halswell Quarry Park. This former quarry provides just over 60 hectares of interesting terrain including rocky outcrops, plantations, and undulating grasslands and picnic areas. There is also a designated area for dog walking.
The Halswell Quarry is open from 7.30 am to 7 pm and until 9 pm during the summer months. The car park and main entrance are accessed from Kennedys Bush Road. There are two toilet blocks located within the grounds.
Travis Wetland Nature Heritage Park
For something a little different head on over to the Travis Wetland Nature Heritage Park. Here you will find a flourishing wetlands reserve. This ongoing work-in-progress is aimed at preserving the local flora and fauna as well as the habitat of many local native birds and other wildlife.
With an area of just over 56 hectares, the wetlands are a great place to wander about and enjoy an afternoon of bird spotting. Access and car parking are available off Beach Road. Bring your gumboots if it is wet as sometimes the tracks can get a little muddy!