The Garden City is a popular tourist destination, as well as a fantastic place to live. Despite the catastrophic impacts of the 2010/2011 earthquakes, there’s still a plethora of exciting attractions, places to visit, and essential destinations in Christchurch. On this page you’ll find a handy guide to some of the best things to do in Christchurch. Plan your Christchurch travel itinerary around these attractions, and you’re sure to have a great time.
No trip to Christchurch is complete these days without learning more about the devastating earthquakes of September 2010 and February 2011. Quake City provides one of the best opportunities to get an authentic feel for what the earthquakes were like for local residents, as well as the ongoing impacts they have had on peoples’ lives. From learning more about the science of earthquakes through to seeing iconic exhibits that have been thrust into the collective consciousness of Christchurch residents, a trip to Quake City is one of the most essential things to do when visiting the Garden City.
One of the most popular things to do in Christchurch is conveniently located just a few hundred metres from the city’s airport. The International Antarctic Centre is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city, and provides a great day out for all ages. Highlights of the Antarctic Centre include the snow room, which gives you an authentic feel for the conditions experienced down in Antarctica (don’t worry, suitable warm clothing is provided) as well as the popular Hagglund ride.
Zoos and wildlife parks are always high on the priority list for visitors to any city, and Christchurch is no exception. The Garden City is blessed with two fantastic wildlife parks, both with their own unique flavors. Willowbank specialises in native New Zealand wildlife, including kea (the world’s only alpine parrot) takahe, and the world-famous kiwi. Orana Park features a range of magnificent creatures, including lions, tigers, and giraffes. If you’re visiting Christchurch with kids in tow, then a visit to Willowbank or Orana Park – or, even better, both – needs to be on your itinerary. Both offer affordable family passes, and have dining facilities on site.
If you feel like exploring away from Christchurch and want to leave the car behind, then a trip on the TranzAlpine train is an experience not to be missed. Departing Christchurch, you’ll enjoy some of the most stunning views in the country as you wind your way towards the West Coast hub of Greymouth. The West Coast is known for its striking beauty (and perhaps equally so for its less-than-fantastic weather) and is a major tourist destination in its own right. Relaxing on the TranzAlpine while soaking up fantastic scenery is a great way to explore the South Island.
Another popular visitor attraction in Christchurch is the Air Force Museum of New Zealand. Located just outside of the city centre, the Air Force Museum is free to visit and provides an intriguing glimpse into the history of the Royal New Zealand Air Force. You can see restored examples of planes, including the Skyhawk fighter jet. There are also special exhibitions, interactive displays, and much more.