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
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.
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)!
Address: Rolleston Ave, Christchurch Central, Christchurch 8013
- 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.