Christchurch and Canterbury

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Christchurch and Canterbury - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Arts Centre

    After major restoration, a large section of the historic Arts Centre, once a popular cultural venue, has reopened with galleries, theaters, boutique shopping, and dining....

    After major restoration, a large section of the historic Arts Centre, once a popular cultural venue, has reopened with galleries, theaters, boutique shopping, and dining. Further careful restoration and strengthening is still underway on this fine collection of 23 Gothic Revival stone buildings that were originally built as Canterbury's University.

    Worcester Blvd. between Montreal St. and Rolleston Ave., Christchurch, Canterbury, 8013, New Zealand
    3-366--0989
  • 2. Black Estate

    With its distinctive black barn tasting room and restaurant on the warm, sunny slopes of the Omihi Hills, this family-run vineyard has become a local...

    With its distinctive black barn tasting room and restaurant on the warm, sunny slopes of the Omihi Hills, this family-run vineyard has become a local landmark. The award-winning architecture perfectly complements the acclaimed pinot noir, chardonnay, and riesling vintages hand-harvested and made on site. Add to this a delicious lunch and tasting menu, focusing on the best local produce and superb service to match the wine. While you dine and sip, enjoy a beautiful view overlooking the vineyards and west to the Main Divide.

    614 Omihi Rd., Amberley, Canterbury, New Zealand
    03-314--6085

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tour and tasting from NZ$95
  • 3. Canterbury Museum

    When this museum was founded in 1867, its trading power with national and international museums was in moa bones (these Jurassic birds roamed the plains...

    When this museum was founded in 1867, its trading power with national and international museums was in moa bones (these Jurassic birds roamed the plains of Canterbury and are believed to have been hunted to extinction by early Māori). The museum still houses one of the largest collections of artifacts from the moa hunting period. You'll also find an interactive natural-history center, called Discovery, where kids can dig for fossils. The Hall of Antarctic Discovery charts the links between the city and Antarctica, from the days when Captain Cook skirted the continent in a small wooden ship. Among the 20th-century explorers celebrated here are the Norwegian Roald Amundsen, who was first to visit the South Pole, and Captain Robert Falcon Scott, who died returning from the continent. Fred & Myrtle's Paua Shell House tells the story of an iconic Kiwi couple and recreates their paua (abalone) shell--covered living room which was originally in Bluff. The café looks out over the Botanic Gardens.

    11 Rolleston Ave., Christchurch, Canterbury, 8013, New Zealand
    03-366–5000

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free admission, donations appreciated; Discovery, NZ$2
  • 4. Christchurch Art Gallery—Te Puna O Waiwhetu

    The city's stunning art gallery wows visitors as much for its architecture as for its artwork. Its tall, wavy glass facade was inspired by Christchurch's...

    The city's stunning art gallery wows visitors as much for its architecture as for its artwork. Its tall, wavy glass facade was inspired by Christchurch's Avon River and the shape of the native koru fern. The museum's Māori name refers to an artesian spring on site and means "the wellspring of star-reflecting waters." Free guided tours, entertaining events, and family activities make the gallery a must-see. Shop for a great selection of gifts, or relax at the brasserie and café. Check the website for updates on the gallery program.

    Worcester Blvd. and Montreal St., Christchurch, Canterbury, 8013, New Zealand
    03-941–7300

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 5. Christchurch Gondola

    Heathcote

    For one of the best vantage points to view Christchurch, the Canterbury Plains, and Lyttelton Harbour head to Christchurch Gondola. At the top, you can...

    For one of the best vantage points to view Christchurch, the Canterbury Plains, and Lyttelton Harbour head to Christchurch Gondola. At the top, you can journey through the Time Tunnel to experience the history and geological evolution of the Canterbury region. Afterward, sit with a glass of local wine at the Red Rock Café. Ride the gondola with your back to the Port Hills for the best views of the Southern Alps. The adventurous can walk or mountain-bike back down (your bike can be transported to the top); it's steep in parts so watch yourself. If you don't have a car, hop on a No. 28 bus from the city center or take a Gondola shuttle from the i-SITE next to the Canterbury Museum.

    10 Bridle Path Rd., Christchurch, Canterbury, 8022, New Zealand
    03-384–0310

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: NZ$30
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  • 6. Christchurch Tram

    There's something nostalgic and reassuring about the ding-ding of these heritage trams. All-day tickets allow you to hop on and off and explore the inner...

    There's something nostalgic and reassuring about the ding-ding of these heritage trams. All-day tickets allow you to hop on and off and explore the inner city with fascinating commentary by the conductors. The Tramway Restaurant departs daily at 7 pm (bookings are essential). The Tramway ticket office is in Cathedral Junction, but you can buy tickets at other places en route and onboard. Tickets can also be bought in a combination pass that includes the Punting, Gondola, and the Botanic Gardens Tour.

    Cathedral Junction, Christchurch, Canterbury, 8013, New Zealand
    03-366–7830

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: NZ$25
  • 7. Christchurch Transitional (Cardboard) Cathedral

    After the famed Christchurch Cathedral was severely damaged from the 2010–11 earthquakes, the Anglican church's Transitional Cathedral opened to help fill a little of the...

    After the famed Christchurch Cathedral was severely damaged from the 2010–11 earthquakes, the Anglican church's Transitional Cathedral opened to help fill a little of the enormous gap left by the loss. Locals call it the Cardboard Cathedral because it is built largely from 98 cardboard tubes, covered in plastic. It can seat 700 and is the largest "emergency structure" to be designed by award-winning Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, who gifted the design (right down to its unusual chairs) to Christchurch. The large triangular window at the front contains images from Christchurch Cathedral's original rose window. Built to last at least 50 years, it has been named by Architectural Digest magazine as one of the world's 10 daring buildings. The striking venue is also used for functions and community events outside of church hours.

    234 Hereford St., Christchurch, Canterbury, 8011, New Zealand
  • 8. CoCA—Centre of Contemporary Art

    Christchurch's leading contemporary art home was built in 1968 and has since been restored and remodeled as a modern and stylish gallery space. Formed in...

    Christchurch's leading contemporary art home was built in 1968 and has since been restored and remodeled as a modern and stylish gallery space. Formed in 1880 as the Canterbury Society of Arts, CoCA is a not-for-profit art gallery run by a trust whose members include several of New Zealand's leading contemporary artists. The gallery commissions, produces, and collaborates with top artists to present an ever-changing set of exhibitions.

    66 Gloucester St., Christchurch, Canterbury, 8011, New Zealand
    03-366--7261
  • 9. Mona Vale Homestead and Gardens

    Fendalton

    Visit this beautifully restored Arts & Crafts movement home, enjoy tea or lunch in the Mona Vale Pantry, and stroll or punt along the Avon...

    Visit this beautifully restored Arts & Crafts movement home, enjoy tea or lunch in the Mona Vale Pantry, and stroll or punt along the Avon River and through the well-tended perennial gardens. Built in 1899, the house and 13½-acre gardens were almost lost to the city in the 1960s when the estate was in danger of being subdivided. A public campaign saw the homestead "sold" to individual Christchurch residents for NZ$10 per square foot. To get here, you can catch a 29 City--Airport via Fendalton bus and get off a short stroll from the entrance.

    40 Mona Vale Ave., Christchurch, Canterbury, 8014, New Zealand
    03-341–7450

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 10. Ohinetahi

    Sir Miles Warren is one of New Zealand's foremost architects with a pedigree as large as his garden. Ohinetahi, which is also the Māori name...

    Sir Miles Warren is one of New Zealand's foremost architects with a pedigree as large as his garden. Ohinetahi, which is also the Māori name for the area, features not only his large, stone, colonial villa, but also his immaculate garden—considered one of the best formal gardens in the country. Blending Sir Miles's eye for detail and design with a stunning situation, this garden maximizes the use of "garden rooms"—the red room being particularly memorable—hedging, and color. Over 30 sculptures now complement the layout.

    31 Governors Bay-Teddington Rd., Lyttelton, Canterbury, 8971, New Zealand
    03-329–9852

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: NZ$15, Closed Apr.–Aug.
  • 11. Riccarton House and Bush

    Riccarton

    The Deans, a Scottish family, beat even the Canterbury Association settlers to this region. Riccarton Bush, their home, is now run by a trust. You...

    The Deans, a Scottish family, beat even the Canterbury Association settlers to this region. Riccarton Bush, their home, is now run by a trust. You can view the small wooden cottage (built 1843) that was their first house. The larger Victorian–Edwardian wooden house, built between 1856 and 1900, now houses a café called Local. Guided heritage tours are available; check the website for details. You can also amble through the last remnant of the original native floodplain forest still standing in Christchurch, with its 600-year-old kahikatea trees. The Christchurch Farmers' Market is held in the grounds of Riccarton House each Saturday morning from 9 to 1, and there are guided house tours at 11 am and 2 pm Sunday through Friday.

    16 Kahu Rd., Christchurch, Canterbury, 8041, New Zealand
    03-341–1018

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $18 includes guided house tour; free entry to gardens and bush
  • 12. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

    Wigram

    Starting in 1916, New Zealand pilots learned how to fly at Wigram Airfield. The Air Force's old hangars plus a state-of-the-art aircraft hall now hold...

    Starting in 1916, New Zealand pilots learned how to fly at Wigram Airfield. The Air Force's old hangars plus a state-of-the-art aircraft hall now hold exhibits on aviation history, including the Royal New Zealand Air Force, flight simulators, and 30 classic aircraft. Take the behind-the-scenes guided tour to see aircraft restoration projects in action in other hangars.

    45 Harvard Ave., Christchurch, Canterbury, 8042, New Zealand
    03-343–9532

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 13. Akaroa Museum

    The focus of historic interest is the Akaroa Museum, which has a display of Māori pounamu (greenstone) as well as alternating exhibits on the area's...

    The focus of historic interest is the Akaroa Museum, which has a display of Māori pounamu (greenstone) as well as alternating exhibits on the area's multicultural past. The peninsula supported a significant Māori population, and the collections and displays tell some of the exciting stories of Kai Tahu, the people of the land. The building is currently being strengthened for earthquakes, but the museum is still open. The Old Courthouse, the old Custom House, and Langlois-Eteveneaux House, the two-room cottage of an early French settler, are also part of the museum.

    71 Rue Lavaud at Rue Balguerie, Akaroa, Canterbury, 7520, New Zealand
    03-304–1013

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 14. Akaroa Walks

    Take the village walk, where you amble along the narrow streets past old-fashioned little cottages and historic buildings that reflect the area's multicultural background. If...

    Take the village walk, where you amble along the narrow streets past old-fashioned little cottages and historic buildings that reflect the area's multicultural background. If you are feeling more ambitious try the country walks on routes ranging from two hours to all day. For hikers, there are also 20 km (12½ miles) of well-mapped tracks from summit to sea level. Start at the Akaroa i-SITE Information Centre and choose from a range of free brochures and maps to enhance your experience.

    74a Rue Lavaud, Akaroa, Canterbury, 7520, New Zealand
  • 15. Antigua Boat Sheds & Cafe

    Built for the Christchurch Boating Club in 1882, this green-and-white wooden structure is the last shed standing of a half dozen that once lined the...

    Built for the Christchurch Boating Club in 1882, this green-and-white wooden structure is the last shed standing of a half dozen that once lined the Avon. On sunny days, punts, canoes, and paddleboats take to the river paddled by visitors and families alike. Join them by renting a boat and taking a champagne picnic into the Botanic Gardens or farther up into the woodlands of Hagley Park. After exploring the waterway you can rent a bike for more action or rest a while at the boat shed's licensed café (open for breakfast and lunch) with a deck overlooking the Avon.

    2 Cambridge Terr., Christchurch, Canterbury, 8013, New Zealand
    03-366–5885-boat shed

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: From NZ$15 per hr.
  • 16. Arthur's Pass National Park

    This spectacular alpine region is a favorite hiking destination. Initially hacked through as a direct route to the West Coast gold fields in 1865, the...

    This spectacular alpine region is a favorite hiking destination. Initially hacked through as a direct route to the West Coast gold fields in 1865, the road over Arthur's Pass was a tortuous, dangerous track. When the railway arrived, in 1923, the pass's skiing and hiking opportunities came to the fore, and the TranzAlpine train service now offers a supreme way to see this rugged area without getting your shoes dirty. On the way to the pass, along State Highway 73 from Christchurch, you'll pass the Castle Hill Conservation Area, which is filled with interesting rock formations. Nearby Craigieburn Conservation Park has wonderful beech and fern forests and some great mountain-biking trails—take the road leading to Broken River Ski Field. Above the tree line you'll find ski slopes and, between November and March, masses of wildflowers, including giant buttercups. Around the summit you'll also have a good chance of seeing kea, the South Island's particularly intelligent and curious mountain parrots. Arthur's Pass Village, at 2,395 feet, is a true alpine village, so pack a jacket even in summer. A couple of restaurants and a store provide basic food supplies, and there are several places to stay, including an excellent wilderness lodge near Bealey. There's also a Department of Conservation visitor center to help with enjoying the vast selection of mountains and rivers in the area. Both the Devil's Punchbowl and Bridal Veil Falls are worth the short walk. The tracks are in good condition, and, although they're a bit steep and rocky in places, no serious hiking experience is required.

    New Zealand
    03-318–9211
  • 17. Bridge of Remembrance and Triumphal Arch

    Arching over Cashel Street, this Oamaru limestone memorial arch and Avon River bridge was built in memory of the soldiers who crossed the river here...

    Arching over Cashel Street, this Oamaru limestone memorial arch and Avon River bridge was built in memory of the soldiers who crossed the river here from King Edward Barracks on their way to the battlefields of Europe during World War I.

    76 Cashel St. at Avon River, Christchurch, Canterbury, 8011, New Zealand
  • 18. Captain Robert Falcon Scott Statue

    The captain known as Scott of the Antarctic (1868–1912), who stayed in Christchurch while preparing for his two Antarctic expeditions, is memorialized by this unfinished...

    The captain known as Scott of the Antarctic (1868–1912), who stayed in Christchurch while preparing for his two Antarctic expeditions, is memorialized by this unfinished white marble statue sculpted by his widow, Kathleen. It's inscribed "Do not regret this journey, which shows that Englishmen can endure hardships, help one another and meet death with as great fortitude as ever in the past." Scott wrote these words in his diary as he and his party lay dying in a blizzard on their return journey from the South Pole—a story of endurance taught to all New Zealand schoolkids. Scott's marble statue was toppled and broken in the earthquakes, but has now been restored.

    Worcester Blvd. and Oxford Terr., Christchurch, Canterbury, 8011, New Zealand
  • 19. Chalice

    An artwork created by internationally acclaimed Christchurch sculptor Neil Dawson, this giant steel vessel was installed in Cathedral Square in 2001 to celebrate the 150th...

    An artwork created by internationally acclaimed Christchurch sculptor Neil Dawson, this giant steel vessel was installed in Cathedral Square in 2001 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of Christchurch and Canterbury. It survived the earthquakes and is now a major city landmark.

    Cathedral Sq., Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand
  • 20. Christ's College

    Founded in 1850, Christ's College is New Zealand's most well-known private school for boys. It is housed in a magnificent precinct of buildings designed by...

    Founded in 1850, Christ's College is New Zealand's most well-known private school for boys. It is housed in a magnificent precinct of buildings designed by the city's leading architects over a period of 165 years. Set around an open quadrangle neighboring Hagley Park and the Botanic Gardens, the school's many heritage buildings are undergoing extensive repair and strengthening following the earthquakes. Guided tours of the school are available during summer from mid-October to late April, at 10 am for 80 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

    Rolleston Ave., Christchurch, Canterbury, 8011, New Zealand

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: NZ$10

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