Fun & interesting things to do in Christchurch, no matter how much time you have

Have you got some free time in Christchurch? Not sure what to do or where to go when you’ve only got a few hours, half a day or just one day free? Here’s what to do in Christchurch based on how much time you have free.

How to get to Christchurch

By bus: Christchurch is either an overnight stop or the start or end of Stray’s South Island tours.

By plane: Christchurch International Airport is the main hub for accessing the South Island, with several flights each day from Auckland and Wellington.

No matter how much time you have to play with, Christchurch has something to offer. Even if it is just a few hours before your flight.

International Antarctic Centre (close to the airport)

Did you know that Christchurch is considered one of the gateways to Antarctica? It’s one of only 5 cities in the world from which expeditions to Antarctica are launched. You can learn all about the chilly Antarctic environment and its wildlife at the International Antarctic Centre, conveniently located within walking distance of the Christchurch International Airport. Experience a simulated Antarctic storm, ride in a real Hagglund vehicle and encounter cute Little Blue Penguins, all while waiting to catch your next flight!

Address: 38 Orchard Rd, Christchurch Airport, Christchurch 8052
Opening hours: Open daily, 9am – 5:30pm

Christchurch International Antarctic Centre

Quake City: learn about the Christchurch earthquakes

You can’t visit Christchurch without learning about the devastating earthquakes that rocked the city in 2010-2011. Since then, the city has been getting back on track by reviving the city centre.

Make sure you visit the unique Quake City exhibition. Here you can learn about the science behind the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010-2011 as well as the personal stories of those who experienced them, giving you a better and deeper understanding of Christchurch history and its people.

Address: 299 Durham Street North, Christchurch Central
Opening hours: Open everyday 10.00 am to 5.00 pm

Check out how the “Garden City” got its nickname

If you’ve got a full free day, discover why Christchurch’s nicknamed the “Garden City” and wander through the gorgeous Christchurch Botanic Gardens and Canterbury Museum. Best of all, your free day will be FREE of charge too, because both the Botanic Gardens and Canterbury Museum have free entry.

Flowers on a sunny days in Christchurch Botanic Gardens
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Ideally situated near the city centre, the Botanic Gardens is the perfect place for a leisurely stroll on a sunny day and picnic on the grass, with live music performances throughout the summer. With an impressive collection of different plants and flowers, this relaxing setting will also have you pulling out your camera to capture the stunning flora around every turn.

Visit the Canterbury Museum (free)

After you’ve wandered through the gardens, your next stop should be the Canterbury Museum, right beside the Botanic Garden, to learn about Canterbury’s natural and human history and outlook for the future. With both permanent and travelling exhibitions on display, there is always something new to see and explore in one of Christchurch’s most beautiful historic buildings. And best of all, it’s free (although a donation upon entry is appreciated)!

Canterbury Museum in central Christchurch
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Address: Rolleston Ave, Christchurch Central, Christchurch 8013
Opening hours:

  • Botanic Gardens – open daily from 7am (closing time varies depending on the time of year)
  • Canterbury Museum – open daily from 9am – 5pm

Got more time and want to explore the surroundings

If you’ve got more than a day, you have the freedom to do any or all of the activities described above, plus plan an excursion out of the city centre. Nearby Akaroa is a popular day trip to visit New Zealand’s only historic French colonial settlement and a stunning natural harbour that’s home to a variety of marine and birdlife. Get there by shuttle from Christchurch or hire a car, and then spend the day walking the peninsula tracks, enjoying a nature cruise or just wandering around the historic town.

Stray guest writer profile picture

Travel Mate (guest blogger)

Have you travelled on a Stray tour in New Zealand, Australia or Asia? How about creating a blog post about your experience? Or are you a frequent traveller and want to add your travel knowledge to our travel blog? Get in touch. We welcome relevant guest posts.

These New Zealand tours will depart soon!

Takahe - South Island Tour

11 days - starts & ends in Christchurch

From the golden sands of Abel Tasman National Park to the West Coast’s glaciers and rainforests, the party and adventure capital of Queenstown, to the “Roof of Aotearoa” Mt Cook National Park.

Ruru - All of NZ Tour

18 days - starts in Auckland, ends in Christchurch

Hike some of New Zealand’s best tracks, kayak at sunrise, taste a delicious traditional hangi meal, bathe in a hot thermal stream surrounded by native bush.

Or check out these articles for more travel inspiration

Can you explore New Zealand without a driving licence? Is it possible to get off the beaten path without one?

New Zealand is one big playground. There is always something to climb on, jump out of, hike to, a path or a trail to follow… You name it, New Zealand has it! Aotearoa truly is one of the world’s ultimate […]

Read More

Our sustainable traveller’s bible will help you to live your best life – without it costing the earth

We all share a common goal: more travel, and less impact. There’s an overwhelming amount of information (and disinformation) about how to be more sustainable, and we know that when you’re travelling, it becomes 10 times harder. We’ve put together […]

Read More

Great news…. A Stray Journey tour is the best New Zealand bus pass

If you want to discover the sheer wonder of New Zealand we’ve got some great news. Stray tours just got even better! As part of our 20th birthday celebrations, we’ve been reminiscing about the thousands of happy travellers who’ve taken […]

Read More
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Scroll to Top