Top 7 Christchurch Sightseeing Activities

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Our guide to the 'must visit' sightseeing spots around Christchurch

The garden city of Christchurch is the South Island's largest city and has its fair share of attractions and sightseeing activities to enjoy.  With so many to choose from and pretty much every type of activity to try, we've focussed on those must-do tourism sightseeing activities to tick-off during your visit.  There's plenty more options in our Things To Do Guide, but for now, here's our top '7 sightseeing activities to experience in Christchurch'. 
 
1.  Botanic Gardens / Punting On The Avon
 
Situated in the heart of the city, the Botanic Gardens is home to one of New Zealand’s finest collections of exotic and native plants.  It’s a lovely place to take a stroll, have seat and enjoy a picnic.  Running through the garden is the beautiful Avon River.  The most enjoyable way to see the gardens is with a punting tour.  Departing from the Antigua Boat Sheds departure point and Worcester Bridge, punting is a wonderful way to view the inner city’s revitalised Avon River Precinct. 

Enjoy either shared or private tours on-board handcrafted flat-bottomed boats, while being poled along by your Punter from the platform at the rear end of the boat. 

Pricing (Feb 2021) - Adult: $30 / Child: $15.
Open daily from 9.15am - 4.15pm.
More info.

2.  Christchurch Gondola

The 862 meter cable car ride up the side of Mt Cavendish is a chance to take in the spectacular views across Canterbury.  At the top, enjoy 360 panoramic views of the Canterbury Plains, the city, the Southern Alps, Lake Ellesmere and the Pacific Ocean in the distance.  There’s also a time tunnel ride (included in the Gondola ticket price) at the top which provides a history of the area in an interactive format.  If you like a good walk, take the Bridle Path Walk which begins at the foot of the gondola.

Pricing (Feb 2021) - Adult: $30 / Child: $15.
Open daily from 10.00am -  4.00pm.
More Info
 3.  Christchurch Tram
 
An iconic fixture in the city, hopping on a tram is a fun and handy way to get around and see the best bits of Christchurch.  Riding in the beautifully-restored trams with an all-day hop-on hop-off ticket, allows you to visit the central city sights at your own pace along along with with informative live commentaries.  The 17 stops include the Canterbury Museum & Botanic Gardens, The Terrace, Cashel Street & Riverside Market and New Regent Street.  The full circuit is 50 minutes, with tickets valid for one day

Pricing (Feb 2021) - Adult: $25 / Child: 3 x Free Per Adult
Summer: From 9.00am – 5.00pm daily (October – March)
Winter: From 10.00am – 4.00pm daily (April – September)
More info.

4.  Sumner
 
A quick trip out of the city centre and just eight miles southeast of Christchurch city, is the coastal town of Sumner.  As the first bay on the Banks Peninsula, Sumner enjoys a sandy beach and superior and is surrounded by volcanic outcrops and underwater craters.  The Esplanade is the main road lining the ocean and beach and is a pleasant, tree-lined street, set back from the sea, with a number of bars, cafes and restaurants. 

More info - read more in our Sumner Guide.

5.  Canterbury Museum
 
One of the most popular and enduring attractions in Christchurch, the Canterbury Museum has been welcoming visitors for over 130 years.  The museum collections include over 2.1 million items including Antarctic expeditions, the settlement history of Canterbury and natural history.  Make it a stop when you visit the Botanic Gardens as the museum is located on Rolleston Avenue, right next door to the Gardens.

Pricing - admission is free.
Open daily from 9.00am - 5.00 pm (April – September)
Open daily from 9.00am - 5.30 pm (October – March)
More info.

6.  International Antarctic Centre
 
The International Antarctic Centre brings you close to Antarctica without having to leave New Zealand.  This fascinating attraction is a fun and immersive experience about life in the antartic.  You'll be able to find out what it's really like in the snow and ice by sheltering in an ice cave, brave the wind chill machine at -18 degrees Celsius, experience a simulated Antarctic Storm, enjoy a Hägglund vehicle ride and see the resident blue penguins.  There are also plenty of displays covering the history of Antarctic exploration and learn about life at the scientific bases.  The attraction is easy to find, with its handy airport location.

Pricing - Adult: $49 / Child: $29
Open daily from 9.00am - 4.30pm 
More info.

7.  New Regent Street
 
A visit to the garden city should always include a walk to New Regent Street.  This colorful pedestrian street is designed in a Spanish Mission architectural style and was built in the early 1930s.  You’ll often see instagrammers taking pics of this street but along with the looks, the reason to come here is to check out the restaurants and bars. In the evenings it's the spot to enjoy a cocktail at a stylish bar and see a show at the Isaac Theatre.
 
Special Mention – Tranz Alpine


Leaving the city behind, the TranzAlpine rail journey is a truly memorable way to see some of the most stunning scenery in the South Island. Departing daily from Christchurch, the train has fantastic viewing carriages to appreciate the scenery on your way to Greymouth on the west coast.  The pleasant, five-hour journey operates daily, traverses the Canterbury Plains and the Southern Alps as it winds its way towards the South Island’s West Coast region. It's one of the world's great railway journeys. 

More info - read more in our TranzAlpine Railway article.