Top 15 things to do in Christchurch | Apollo Campervans NZ
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Hannah Klein
/ Categories: NZ blog

Top 15 things to do in Christchurch.

Planning to book a campervan hire so you can tick off some of the best things to do in Christchurch? Great idea! This stunning South Island city is packed full of excellent activities, unmissable sights, and fascinating history. And best of all, it’s the perfect destination to explore by motorhome.


Where is Christchurch?

Surrounded by stunning natural landscapes, including the Southern Alps and the Pacific Ocean, Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island. It sits on the east coast, just above Banks Peninsula. Located conveniently close to many of the best places to visit in the South Island, Christchurch is also a gateway to some exciting day trip destinations. Here are some travel times and distances from a few popular cities:

  • Nelson: 409 km, 5 hours

  • Kaikoura: 180 km, 2.5 hours

  • Hanmer Springs: 133 km, 1 hour, 45 minutes

  • Dunedin: 360 km, 4 hours, 45 minutes

  • Queenstown: 481 km, 6 hours 


What is Christchurch known for?

Christchurch is renowned for its beautiful parks, stunning botanical gardens, and a unique blend of historic and modern architecture. The city is often referred to as the ‘Garden City’ due to its abundance of green spaces. 

Christchurch continues to rebuild after the 2011 earthquakes that caused significant damage across the region. There’s now a sense of renewed vibrancy and growth with some fantastic new and revitalised attractions drawing visitors from near and far.


The best way to explore Christchurch

Christchurch is the perfect destination to explore with an Apollo campervan. The city is nice and flat and has a grid-like layout making it very easy to navigate. It’s also easy to park up your campervan and explore further by tram, gondola, or bike hire. 

Travelling Christchurch by Apollo campervan also ticks all the boxes for those sticking to a budget. Save money by preparing home-cooked meals in your onboard kitchen. Park up in one of the affordable campsites and holiday parks in Christchurch. And with so many great things to do and see that are free or low-cost, you can have loads of fun without constantly opening your wallet!



Image: Tourism New Zealand


Top 15 Things to do in Christchurch

Let’s take a look at some of the must-see attractions in Christchurch.


Quake City

Begin your Christchurch adventure with a poignant and powerful visit to Quake City. This immersive museum tells the story of the earthquakes that profoundly impacted the region in recent history. Through interactive exhibits and displays, visitors can gain insights into the city's tenacious spirit of recovery and the heartwarming stories of its resilient residents. It's a must-visit for anyone keen to understand the history of the city.


Christchurch Art Gallery

For those with an interest in the arts, the Christchurch Art Gallery is a must-see. The gallery showcases an exquisite blend of contemporary pieces and age-old classics. It’s a great chance to see some of the profound talents of local Kiwi artists as well as the genius of international creators. Beyond the artwork displayed on its walls, the gallery's architectural design stands as a work of art in its own right. With sleek, modern lines and innovative spatial concepts, the building itself becomes an integral part of your artistic journey. 


Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Looking for a good spot to enjoy a quiet picnic? Head directly to the beautiful

Christchurch Botanic Gardens. This lush garden spans 21 hectares, offering a mix of themed gardens and conservatories filled with various flora and fauna. From the spring blossoms to the cosy conservatories, there’s always something fascinating to see, whatever the time of year. A must-visit for those who appreciate green spaces in the heart of a city.


Rollickin’ Ice Cream Shop

Time to indulge in a sweet treat? Rollickin' Gelato on New Regent Street is famous for its artisanal gelato and sorbets. This delightful destination boasts a mouthwatering selection of flavours, each crafted with meticulous care and the freshest of ingredients. From classic favourites to unique, rotating seasonal specialities, every scoop promises a burst of rich, creamy goodness. The ambience adds to the charm, making every visit feel special. Whether you're looking to cool down on a summer’s day or simply enjoy a sweet moment, this is one spot you won’t want to miss.


The Canterbury Museum

Step back in time at Canterbury Museum, where history comes to life. Explore exhibits showcasing Māori culture and heritage, the wonders of natural history, and the captivating tales of early pioneers. Each exhibit is thoughtfully curated, offering both an educational and engaging experience for visitors, young and old. Whether you're a history enthusiast or just keen to learn more about New Zealand's past, Canterbury Museum promises a journey worth taking.


Riverside Market

Dive into the heart of Christchurch's local vibes at the Riverside Market. This bustling spot is a treasure trove for food lovers and craft enthusiasts. With stalls offering everything from freshly harvested produce to artisanal delicacies, you're in for a treat. Beyond the culinary delights, you'll find a plethora of handmade crafts and unique creations that showcase the talents of local artisans. It's more than just a market; it's a genuine Christchurch experience, where you can relish the flavours of the city and support the local community.


Image: Instagram - @olivia_moana


International Antarctic Centre

Get ready for an icy adventure without leaving the city at the International Antarctic Centre. This immersive attraction takes you on a virtual expedition to the frosty expanses of Antarctica. With hands-on exhibits, you can dive deep into the mysteries and wonders of this frozen continent. For an experience not to be missed, be there at 10.30 am or 3 pm to see the centre’s resident penguins enjoy their daily feeds. And for the thrill-seekers, brace yourself for the Antarctic storm simulation – a chilling experience in every sense!


Port Hills

Rising majestically above Christchurch, the Port Hills have a great range of hiking trails that cater to both Sunday strollers and seasoned trekkers. A popular walk is the gentle slopes of the Bridle Path, which traces the historic route of early settlers. For a slightly longer walk, the Harry Ell Track offers panoramic views of the city and the Southern Alps. The best way to reach the top of the Port Hills is to take the Christchurch Gondola. Start at the carpark on Bridle Path Road, Heathcote Valley. From here you’ll take a relaxing ride up to the top where the views are simply incredible. 


Tramway Restaurant

Looking for unique things to do in Christchurch? Combine history with a delectable dining experience aboard the Tramway Restaurant. Set in a beautifully restored vintage tram, this moving eatery offers a sumptuous meal as you trundle past Christchurch's most iconic landmarks. From the ambient rattle of the tram to the premium local produce paired with fantastic wines and beverages, it is truly an unforgettable way to see the city.


Punting on the Avon River

For a relaxing and picturesque experience, hop on a punt and glide along the tranquil Avon River. Your guide will share intriguing stories and tidbits about the city's fascinating history as you enjoy the scenic surroundings. Choose between two sites: float through the Botanic Gardens from the Antigua Boat Sheds landing or see the central city’s Avon River Precinct from the Worcester Bridge landing.


Cardboard Cathedral

In the heart of Christchurch stands an emblem of resilience and innovation: the Cardboard Cathedral. Crafted largely from cardboard, the cathedral’s design is a testament to the city's spirit of ingenuity, proving that creativity can emerge from adversity. A visit to this architectural marvel offers a deep reflection on the city's journey and its unwavering community spirit.


Margaret Mahy Playground

If you’re enjoying your New Zealand road trip with littlies, don’t miss a few hours of fun at the Margaret Mahy Playground. Named after one of New Zealand's most beloved children's authors, the playground embodies the spirit of fun and imagination. Spanning a generous area in the heart of Christchurch, this playground is a paradise for children. Kids will love the great activities on offer, from innovative climbing structures that challenge agility to refreshing water features perfect for a splash on a sunny day. 


Hagley Park

Nestled in the heart of the city, Hagley Park is perfect for picnicking, jogging, or enjoying outdoor games. The park offers ample space and a calm ambience to unwind on a walk. The well-maintained Lake Victoria Loop is a favourite for many, allowing walkers to meander around the picturesque lake, home to diverse birdlife. For those interested in a longer walk, the North Hagley Park and Gardens Loop spans 4.9 km, taking around two hours. 


Image: Instagram - @scotthowes


Air Force Museum

A trip to Christchurch wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Air Force Museum of New Zealand. As you wander through the vast hangars, you'll come face-to-face with planes that tell tales of daring flights, historic missions, and technological marvels. For those seeking a more hands-on experience, the museum even offers flight simulator sessions, giving visitors a taste of piloting an aircraft. 


Lyttelton Harbour

Just a 20-minute drive from the CBD, Lyttelton makes for the perfect short-day trip. This colourful township is brimming with bohemian artists, cafes, and eclectic shops. If you’re in town on a Saturday, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the bustling farmers market. Afterwards, immerse yourself in the history of the town by taking the historic walk. And if you fancy treating yourself to lunch, there are plenty of great cafes and restaurants to choose from. 


Ready to explore Christchurch?

From browsing the markets to punting on the Avon, Christchurch is packed full of fun and adventure. And there really is no better way to enjoy it all than with the comfort and convenience of a campervan. Take the first step and book your Apollo campervan hire online now.

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