A long journey isn’t a prerequisite for a great family holiday. With Christchurch city and the Canterbury region bursting with places and activities for family outings, we think you can have an amazing holiday at home and still discover a few surprises.
Hagley park & The Botanic Gardens
At this time of year, Hagley Park’s blossom-lined boulevards make for beautiful bike rides and walks. For a new perspective, explore the Ōtākaro Avon River by kayak – these can be hired from Antigua Boat Sheds. The Botanic Gardens are a beautiful setting for picnics and playing in the sunshine, with a cool playground plus great natural spaces for kids: hills, hedges, a rock wall and logs for climbing.
The City Centre
You may have seen it moving about the city, but if you haven’t taken a ride on it yet, the Christchurch Tram is a great way to explore the city. The route includes stops at the Canterbury Museum (the excellent Dinosaur rEvolution exhibition is currently on), Botanic Gardens, Margaret Mahy Playground and Tūranga.
If you’re keen to explore on foot, scooter or bike, the City Promenade alongside the Ōtākaro Avon River is a safe, smooth route connecting Hagley Park at one end with the Margaret Mahy Playground at the other.
Ferrymead Heritage Park
A visit to Ferrymead is interactive and utterly fascinating. Famous for its steam trains and trams, Ferrymead really does transport visitors back in time. The kids will love exploring the Edwardian township with its cottages, shops, school-house and jail.
Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
Spring is the perfect time for checking out all the baby animals at Willowbank. Follow its winding pathways through the New Zealand bush, into the farmyard, and past some of the exotic animals. Kids can get up close to all sorts of creatures, and they’ll love feeding the birds and farm animals. The Annual Pass is a great way to get the most out of the experience – visit as many times as you like in a year.
Orana Wildlife Park
If you fancy some bigger teeth, Orana Wildlife Park is New Zealand’s only open-range zoo. It’s home to creatures great and small, exotic and native, fierce and friendly! The kids will love to plan their routes, or you can “follow the feeds” around the Park. The majestic gorillas are a must-see – the Park is the only place in the country that holds these incredible creatures. The Annual Pass is worth it: the Park is huge and it’s great to be able to visit again and again; you see something new each time.
Red zone ride
The Te Ara Ōtākaro Avon River Trail is a mix of shingle, sealed and closed roads, which take you
the 11 kilometres from Cambridge Village Green (in the city centre) out to New Brighton.
For a shorter bike ride, start at the South New Brighton Playground, and ride along the estuary
to South New Brighton beach and then along to New Brighton. Check out the New Brighton Beachside Playground and pier – our kids love walking along the pier and seeing fishermen bringing up their catches.
Christchurch Adventure Park
The Christchurch Adventure Park has trails for avid mountain bikers and ziplines for thrill-seekers, but it’s also a great space for play and exploration for the youngest members of the party. There are tracks for all ages and abilities, a charming fairy forest, forest walks and a chairlift up the hill, plus a great café surrounded by trees.
Just 80 minutes from Christchurch, the former French settlement is a gem. An Akaroa Nature Cruise with Black Cat Cruises is one of the best ways to introduce your youngsters to our native wildlife. Watch the endangered Hector’s Dolphins and catch a glimpse of white flippered blue penguins.
The Children’s Bay Walkway is great for families – a scenic one-hour return walk with various animal sculptures along the way and a life-sized rhino sculpture at the top! A great way to end your Akaroa adventure is with fish ’n’ chips by the seaside. Although be warned, the seagulls also like this plan.
About 1 hour 40 from Christchurch you’ll find Hanmer Springs. Whether you enjoy the Conical Thrill or Superbowl or prefer to relax in the rock pools, the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa is amazing.
But the alpine village offers so many other great experiences – and many of them are free. Awesome bike rides in the forest, the Dog Stream Walkway if you’re up for a challenge, and the Forest Amble Sculpture Walkway, which is easy and enchanting, with all sorts of sculpted creatures hiding in or hanging from the trees. There’s also a pretty cool lolly shop in the township that the kids will love.
Punting on the Avon
See the Avon River and Botanic Gardens from a different perspective with Punting on the Avon! Departing from the historic Antigua Boat Sheds, this guided 30-minute tour glides along the river into the heart of the Botanic Gardens.
See the river’s flora and wildlife up close from the sturdy and safe handcrafted punt boats and watch the friendly ducks swimming by! And don’t worry – blankets are available on cooler days.
Your punter will give you a live commentary about the things you’ll see – just sit back, relax and take in the sights and fresh air.
The Christchurch Gondola offers stunning panoramic views, perfect for your next family adventure! Featuring spectacular vistas of Christchurch, Lyttelton and beyond from the viewing decks, the complex also provides access to various walking tracks throughout the Port Hills along with a child-friendly café, Discovery Ride about the history of the area and a well-priced retail store. There’s plenty of parking available plus a bus stop at the door. Chat to the team about the many ticket options available, including Annual Passes for unlimited rides on the Tram and Gondola for 12 months – it’s a fantastic deal for locals and frequent visitors. Visit the Christchurch Gondola for a great family day out this spring!