21 Fun Things To Do In Christchurch For Families In 2024

This post may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure

If you are looking for the best things to do in Christchurch with kids (or even if you’re visiting minus the family), this guide to Christchurch will have you sorted! Christchurch should absolutely be on your NZ bucket list, with plenty of family-friendly attractions.

Christchurch is one of the best holiday destinations to experience with the family. The city comes to life with its brilliant attractions, colours, and atmosphere.

We loved this city tram tour of Christchurch

Things to do in Christchurch nz

The Best Christchurch Attractions For Families

While Christchurch is often overlooked for some of the more popular New Zealand tourist hot spots, such as Queenstown and Auckland, it’s a city well worth experiencing for a few days when you are looking for somewhere a little less fast-paced!

And just like those popular places to visit in NZ, Christchurch offers plenty of their own exciting attractions, beautiful scenery and unique history.

Even if you’re heading to New Zealand for thrills, you will get your share of adrenaline experiences in Christchurch too!

Christchurch is known for its beautiful gardens, and is sometimes referred to as “The Garden City“. There are plenty of fun Christchurch activities that are perfect for children and adults alike.

Star RV Motorhomes driving along the coastline


Our favourite way to explore NZ is by motorhome! Check out Jucy Campervans for a budget option or for extra comfort try Star RV.

1. Christchurch Gondola

Fun things to do in Christchuch - gondola.

While the views may not be raved about as much as the Queenstown Gondola offers, a ride up the Christchurch Gondola is well worth experiencing.

Make your way up the mountain where you can spend your time exploring the landscape up top and views from every direction.

You can easily take a hike or simply enjoy morning tea at the summit cafe while surrounded by the 360-degree views of the city, Lyttelton Harbour and beyond.

There is also a slow-motion ride at the top which is included in your Gondola ticket admission price. This ride is suited to all ages and tells the story of Christchurch as you ride around.

  • Location: 10 Bridle Path Rd Heathcote Valley, Christchurch
  • Opening Hours: Open daily from 10 AM – 4 PM
  • Price: $30 NZ for adults and $15 for children aged 5 to 15

2. Christchurch Tram

Christchurch tram.

The Christchurch Tram is the best way to see the sights of Christchurch City and learn about the city along the way.

The heritage-restored trams will have you feeling like you’ve stepped back in time as they loop around the city, stopping at points of interest.

Your tram driver and tour guide will share interesting stories about the city and give you a glimpse of the parts still rebuilding from earthquakes.

You can ride a complete loop, or hop on and hop off as you please, exploring each stop that takes your fancy. There are several trams running the loop throughout the day so you don’t need to wait long for the next to arrive.

  • Location: Cathedral Junction (Shop 13)109 Worcester Street, Christchurch
  • Opening Hours: Open daily from 9 AM – 6 PM (reduced hours in winter)
  • Price: $25 NZ for adults and currently children up to 15 years are free

3. International Antarctic Centre

For a fascinating experience, go and visit the award-winning International Antarctic Centre that explores the Antarctic’s mysteries.

The centre is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday only, so be sure to plan your Christchurch visit for a weekend if you’re keen for this attraction.

There’s a range of exhibitions and interactive displays that will keep the entire family entertained.

Two of the coolest (pun intended) are the Antarctic Storm, which lets you experience a simulated Antarctic storm, and the Hagglund Ride, which is a snow vehicle that goes through an Antarctic-like obstacle course.

There are also husky and penguin encounters with special behind the scenes penguin tours available too. Breakfast with penguins anyone?

  • Location: 38 Orchard Road, Christchurch Airport
  • Opening Hours: Open Friday to Sunday from 9 AM – 4:30 PM
  • Price: $49 NZ for adults and $29 NZ for children aged 5 to 15 years

4. Quake City

quake city museum in christchurch.
Credit: Canterbury Museum – Quake City

In 2010 and 2011, Christchurch experienced devastating earthquakes which heartbreakingly claimed 185 lives.

After this tragic act of nature, Christchurch has worked long and hard to rebuild itself along with the people in it by rallying together.

The Quake City Museum was constructed to tell the stories of the loss, heroes, and hope from the earthquake.

The Canterbury earthquake museum is worthwhile visiting, to see how far the city has come since. There are interactive exhibits and artefacts from the earthquakes.

Plus learn the science behind the liquefaction phenomenon– when the ground was shaking, the ground was liquefied and it bubbled up, causing buildings and streets to sink. A truly horrifying experience!

You might also like to see the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial in Christchurch Central City during your stay.

  • Location: 299 Durham Street North, corner Armagh Street, Christchurch
  • Opening Hours: Open daily from 10 AM – 5 PM
  • Price: Adult entry is $20 NZ and children under 15 are free

Summit view - things to do in Christchurch.

Free Things To Do In Christchurch

While New Zealand is considered an affordable destination to visit, the cost of visiting New Zealand‘s most popular attractions can be high, so having a few free activities to enjoy will help keep your budget in check!

These free things to do in Christchurch include something for all ages and are great for visits all year round.

5. Christchurch Botanic Gardens

The most iconic gardens found in the city are the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, which are located in the heart of the city.

Spreading across 21 hectares, there are various different gardens which the kids will love to explore and discover. Or savour the crisp New Zealand air as you enjoy a stroll with your partner.

A discovery trail is another way to spend time with kids, with self-guided trails to suit ages 4 to 10. They also host seasonal treasure hunts.

Some of the exquisite gardens you will find here are the Woodland Garden, Magnolia Garden, Rose Garden, their conservatories and more!

You can also take a walk or bike ride through Hagley Park – the largest urban park in Christchurch.

  • Location: City Centre Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch Central
  • Opening Hours: Open daily from 7 AM – 9 PM
  • Price: Free of charge


6. Hike Godley Head

On a good weather day, get outdoors and enjoy a half-day hike to Godley Head. Hiking, known as tramping, is a popular New Zealand pastime. And why not, when they have such breathtaking scenery everywhere you turn.

The walk takes around 3 hours return and is mostly flat aside from a few short inclines. This makes it great for the whole family.

Along the way, you will get breathtaking views along with some World War II remnants – bunkers and other points of interest.

7. Air Force Museum of New Zealand 

For a fun learning experience, go to the Air Force Museum of New Zealand with the family.

The museum’s focus is on New Zealand’s military aviation history. There are fascinating interactive displays that tell amazing stories. There is also a variety of aircraft on display.

The museum has a guided tour, “Behind the Scenes”, that’s 45 minutes long and a thrilling flight simulator to experience. 

  • Location: 5 Harvard Ave, Wigram, Christchurch
  • Opening Hours: Open daily from 10 AM – 4 PM
  • Price: Free of charge

8. Street Art Discovery

In recent years, as a way to bring new life to a city that has suffered its share of tragedy, Christchurch has quite a collection of cool street art.

From abstract sculptures to massive murals, it can be a great chance to explore the city on foot and see what art you can discover.

Find free maps and locations of street art in Christchurch. There are paid tours available, but sometimes the best fun is getting a little lost in a new city.

9. Spend An Afternoon In New Brighton

If the weather is great, why not spend an afternoon in New Brighton? This seaside suburb is home to a wide range of shops, cafes and restaurants, as well as a stunning beach. Take a stroll along the promenade, enjoy an ice cream or fish and chips on New Brighton Beach, and watch the world go by.

New Brighton is also home to a number of parks and reserves, so there’s plenty of green space to relax in.

More Free Things To Do In Christchurch:

  • The Imagination Station
  • Canterbury Museum
  • Christchurch Art Gallery
  • Christchurch Farmers Market (Every Saturday)
  • Visit the beach
  • Hit the ski slopes in winter at Mount Cheeseman

Things To Do For Kids In Christchurch

If you are looking for fun things to do in Christchurch with kids, there are plenty of great options that the whole family will love.

From wildlife encounters to simple playgrounds and paddling pools, and of course, lots of wide open spaces to run off some energy too!

We spent close to 3 days in and around the Christchurch area during our South Island campervan road trip and could easily have filled extra days!

One thing is for sure if you want to keep it really simple when in New Zealand with kids, they sure do have a lot of cool playgrounds and parks, with plenty of big open spaces to enjoy the great outdoors.

10. Willowbank Wildlife Reserve 

Willowbank wildlife reserve christchurch with kids

Most children (and adults) love spending time with animals and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve is a great place to visit for them to see some of New Zealand’s most precious native species.

Willowbank was one of our favourite attractions in Christchurch to visit with kids. We were pleasantly surprised with the size of the reserve and the many activities to fill your visit.

It’s also the perfect place to get up close with animals, with the opportunity to hand-feed farm animals, birds and many other unique characters along the way.

Some of the animals that you will get to see are the world-famous Kiwi bird, as well as Whio, Morepork, Kea, Takahe, Kaka, and the Tuatara- which is the native reptile that’s been around since the dinosaurs!

Book your Willowbank Tickets online

  • Location: 60 Hussey Road, Northwood, Christchurch
  • Opening Hours: Open daily from 9:30 AM – 5 PM
  • Price: Entry is from $32.50 NZ for adults and $12 NZ for kids. Family passes are available.

11. Paddling Pools & Playgrounds

We’ve already mentioned the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and many of the fun attractions they have on offer, with treasure hunts and nature trails to keep them entertained.

However, the gardens are also home to a fantastic playground and paddling pool area. During the warmer seasons, kids can enjoy splashing about in the water-play zone.

There are also several other paddling pools in Christchurch to help the kids cool off during November and March each year. They are all free to enjoy!

12. Christchurch Adventure Park

If your children are a fan of adventure, then going to the Christchurch Adventure Park is a must.

There are numerous attractions that will get all the family members pumped – ziplining, hiking trails, mountain biking (which includes lessons), and New Zealand’s longest chairlift at 1.8km.

The adventure park is based at Port Hills and the views are unbelievable.

  • Location: 225 Worsleys Road, Christchurch
  • Opening Hours: Open from 11 AM – 7 PM weekdays and 10 AM – 4 PM weekends
  • Price: Entry to the park is free for trail walks. Adventure attractions incur costs

13. Orana Wildlife Park

For a safari experience, go visit the Orana Wildlife Park, which is the only open range zoo in New Zealand!

The wildlife park has many different exotic animals, like tigers, orangutans, wild dogs, Tasmanian devils, lions, and spider monkeys, just to name a few.

Orana Wildlife Park is internationally renowned for their involvement in zoo-based breeding programs for native and endangered exotic species.

  • Location: 793 McLeans Island Road, Christchurch
  • Opening Hours: Open from 10 AM – 5 PM daily
  • Price: $36.50 NZ for adults and $9.50 NZ for kids aged 5 to 14

14.  Margaret Mahy Playground

 Margaret Mahy Family Playground is one not to be missed if you’re looking for free fun with the kids. This is an all-abilities playground that has plenty of equipment for younger children and older children alike.

From the wide slide that several kids can go down at once, to flying foxes, climbing frames and more.

You will find it at the Corner of Manchester and Armagh Streets in Central Christchurch, near the popular Regent Street area.

It’s the largest play project in New Zealand, directly on the edge of the Avon River and it has so much cool stuff that even I wanted to join in on the playtime! This is also a great place just to bring some food down for lunch and have a picnic too.

15. Antigua Boat Sheds

Head to Antigua Boat Sheds, situated along the banks of the Avon River, just 5 minutes from the Botanic Gardens. Here you can hire a boat or a bike to explore the natural scenery.

They have kayaks (both single and double), paddle and row boats, Canadian canoes, as well as bike hire so you can enjoy some active fun together as a family.

You can even book a summer boating experience with a rowboat hire and picnic hamper.

  • Location: 2 Cambridge Terrace, Christchurch
  • Opening Hours: Check the website
  • Price: From $17 for a kayak, from $35 for a family of 4 bike hire for one hour


Day Trips From Christchurch

If you are looking for ideas to extend your stay and see beyond the city, these day trips from Christchurch are well worth making time for:

  • Akaroa – (1h 20m from Christchurch) This beautiful french settlement coastal town is perfect for browsing gift stores and enjoying time on or by the water. The drive alone is worth it for the stunning views!
  • Arthur’s Pass (2 h from Christchurch) Visit the highest point of the Southern Alps with wild scenery and waterfalls. The best way is to take the scenic train ride.
  • Waipara Wine Valley (1 h from Christchurch) Escape to one of New Zealand’s premier wine regions and enjoy sampling local drops and delicious eats. Find some of the best winery tours HERE.
  • Hanmer Springs (2 h from Christchurch) Hot springs are a quintessential New Zealand experience. There is also bungy jumping, jet boating and loads more fun to be had!
  • Lake Tekapo – (2.5hrs) While it’s a huge day, a day trip from Christchurch to Tekapo is possible!
  • The Banks Peninsula – Take a wildlife tour to see the Blue Penguins in their largest mainland colony. You can observe them on a Pohatu Penguins’ Tour.

Accommodation In Christchurch – The Best Places To Stay

For the best places to stay in Christchurch, check out one of these hotel options to suit every budget:

For private homes and apartment rentals, you will also find many different holiday homes available around Christchurch. These are often great for families as you are typically self-contained and have plenty of your own space for longer stays.

Or pick up your Wilderness Motorhome or book with another campervan and start your South Island road trip. This is truly the best way to see New Zealand if you have the time.

There are no free campgrounds in Christchurch however there are some within 40 minutes or some budget-friendly private campgrounds.

Use the Campermate App or one of these other useful NZ camping apps to find where to set up camp.

Cathedral in Christchurch after Earthquake
A city rebuilding after tragedy

FAQS For Visiting Christchurch

Is it safe to travel to Christchurch?

Following the major earthquake events of 2010, 2011 and 2016 Christchurch has been given a somewhat tragic modern history. In saying that, Christchurch is an otherwise safe destination to visit and suited to families who are looking for a less chaotic option compared to Auckland or the peak ski season in Queenstown. Take the same precautions you would visiting any other destination and follow the travel alerts in the lead up to your visit.

How can I get to Christchurch?

If visiting Christchurch from elsewhere in the world or from New Zealand’s North Island, you can fly into Christchurch International Airport.

There are bus services running between Christchurch from other major cities in New Zealand and a ferry service that connects the North and South Islands.

How far is Christchurch from Auckland?

The distance between Christchurch and Auckland is approximately 1,073 kilometres (666 miles) if travelling by road. The journey takes around 11-12 hours by car or bus. If you prefer to fly, the flight duration is about 1.5 hours.

Is Christchurch worth visiting?

Absolutely! Christchurch offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural experiences, and a resilient spirit. You can explore stunning gardens, visit museums and galleries, enjoy outdoor activities, and immerse yourself in the city’s lively atmosphere.

Is Christchurch good for families?

Yes, Christchurch is a fantastic destination for families. The city offers a wide range of family-friendly activities and attractions.

You won’t regret your time spent exploring Christchurch! With so many incredible sights, attractions and things to do in Christchurch, you will easily spend several days or longer in this beautiful city!

We hope this guide helps you plan what to do in Christchurch, including the best things to do with kids in Christchurch for family trips!