Christchurch Top 20

PHOTO: Christchurch Punts


In the light of recent earthquakes in Christchurch, Backpackers News is committed to bringing you updates on tourism in New Zealand’s beloved Garden City.

The following list compiles a number of activities that are available in and around Christchurch, and will be regularly updated as local businesses get back on their feet. It’s all about knowing where to look…

Many of the treats and sight-seeing around Christchurch at this stage have a certain community-grown charm- including the increasingly popular farmers markets, and a number of “pop-up” bars that have kicked into gear since February 2011.

Kia Kaha, Christchurch – the city looks forward to your visit in the future!

For more information visit


1. Hagley Park Events Village

Set up for the Christchurch Arts Festival and Rugby World Cup fanzone, this beautifully prepared substitute for the inner city’s charm during the events season has been welcomed with open arms by locals and tourists. Decked with fairy lights, big screens, flash tents and the Telstra Clear dome and bar that anyone who has been inside won’t believe is technically a “tent”, this spot is the ideal place to catch a game or a gig. One can only hope the site will keep hosting events until the inner city is back up and running. Worth a look!

2. Punting the Avon

One of Christchurch’s most iconic sightseeing activities is back up and running. Tour the inner city waterways in European style, with quaintly dressed boater boys steering passengers under the riverbanks’ weeping willows and the picturesque Hagley gardens.

3. Taylor’s Mistake Beach

Over the summer months expect soupy shores at this bay tucked beyond the hills, an alternative to the more popular Sumner beach. Surfers frequent this spot year round, and its cliff jumps are spectacular.

4. Paragliding Sumner

Nimbus Paragliding offers courses and tandem paragliding from the spectacular jumping point of the Sumner Hills. Experience the thrill of flying free as a bird while enjoying fantastic views over the Canterbury plains and Pegasus Bay. No training is necessary and there are almost no age or size limits for tandem paragliding.

5. Local vineyards – Waipara Valley

Sample the South Island’s world class wines, grown in the Canterbury region- starting with the Waipara Valley vineyard which is only a short drive out of Christchurch.

6. Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

Picturesque Willowbank Wildlife Reserve offers a variety of unique attractions and services, including Maori cultural experience, New Zealand food tasting and a guided Kiwi tour. Check out their special value packages online and learn more about their ‘Kiwi guarantee’ experience.

7. Cycling Lanes

Christchurch is arguably New Zealand’s most cyclist-friendly city and not just because it is pancake flat. Canterbury’s rolling plains harbour wide cycle lanes which make life vey breezy for the two-wheeled commuter, or eco tourist.

8. View from the Port Hills

Head up the hills for a romantic vantage point to behold the Canterbury plains, or at night its twinkling city lights.

9. Waimakariri Alpine jet-boating

If Christchurch’s quainter experiences don’t tickle your fancy, book in for a high speed race down the rapids of the Waimakariri river, affectionately termed the ‘Waimak’ by locals in an Alpine Jet!

10. Hector’s dolphins

The world’s smallest and rarest dolphin may be shy, but when you do encounter one you know you’ve seen something special. Head to Akaroa or Lyttelton to watch, or even swim with New Zealand’s own Hector’s dolphins.

11. Daffodils at Hagley Park

In Christchurch, spring is heralded like nowhere else in New Zealand- the ‘Garden City’s’ picturesque Hagley Park is ripe for a frolic- home to beautiful daffodils from August, and cherry blossoms from September. Just don’t be tempted to pick them, in Christchurch, defacing the city’s famous gardens attracts a hefty fine!

12. Orana Park

Christchurch’s “wildest” destination is open to the public and roaring for attention. Have an exciting cheetah encounter, or meet the newest baby animals.

13. Farmers Markets

With the inner city out of action, what was once a quiet tradition has become a Christchurch Saturday morning mecca. What seems like the half the city descends on Saturday markets at Riccarton House, in Addington and other locations around the city, to sample local produce, listen to live music and buy fresh fruit and vegetables. Worth a look for foodies and those who enjoy soaking up a happy family targeted atmosphere.

14. The Brewery

Responding to demand for a classy, yet, chilled watering hole, the Brewery is Christchurch’s newest bar, café, pizzeria and music venue. Hosting live gigs every weekend, and on weekdays too, this Woolston destination is built on an old “tannery” site and boasts a range of quality craft beers on tap. The-Brewery

15. Adrenalin Forest

If you’re afraid of heights, feel the fear and do it anyway! Adrenalin Forest makes for an exhilarating day out— climbers can negotiate the tree tops via an exciting array of high wires, flying foxes, barrels and jumps that cater to both the daring— with wires at 20m above ground— and the faint of heart. How high can you go?

16. Cup and Show Week

Cup and Show week is an old Christchurch favourite – an excuse to dress up in your finest, quaff a couple of champagnes and put your best foot forward to welcome in the summer. Take a punt on the horses, enter in a best dressed competition, and revel in the spirit of the day, starting with the Casino sponsored event. The week runs from Saturday 10th to Saturday 17th November.

17. The Carlton Country Club

This charming little two storey bar has popped up on a demolition site and decked with fairy lights and happy people is a sight to behold on Saturday evenings, when crusing down Papanui road in search of the Merivale night-life which has reigned the Christchurch clubbing scene since February. The-Carlton-Country-Club

18. The Casino

The Casino is open for business and looking bolder than ever! Don’t be put off by the red zone cordons surrounding it. Escape inside for a night of cocktails and games.

19. Addington Coffee Co-Op

This unique café, roaster, and fresh fruit sellers rolled into one is a bastion of fair trade, quality food that has no match in Christchurch. A welcome relief, and a friendly place to catch up with friends whilst the inner city cafes remain out of action.

20. Art in the city

Art lovers travelling to Christchurch to take in its visual pleasures should not be too disappointed by the cordoned off Christchurch art gallery and High St Project. You can still get your art fix, no sweat. See what the city’s alternative art scene has to offer by googling (and then visiting!) all of the following: GapFiller, [email protected], the University of Canterbury school of Fine Arts’ SoFA gallery. .You can thank your lucky stars old favourite ‘The Physics Room’ has re-opened in a temporary site in Sydenham.



If you’re travelling on beyond the Christchurch city limits, the following spots are easily accessed from Christchurch city. These highlights of the wider Canterbury region are worthy stop-offs on your road trip!

Visit the West Coast

Only three hours drive from South Christhurch, the road trip to the West Coast is a scenic delight. The West coast is home to a rugged landscape perfect for camping or fishing. As locals will tell you, watch out for a display of all four seasons in one day on the coast. The annual Wild Foods Festival is highly recommended- but only for those with strong stomachs!


Kaikoura is only an hour drive out of Christchurch and is a popular site for whale watching, and its annual seafood festival ‘Seafest’ attracts connoisseurs from all walks of life.

Hanmer Springs

Hanmer springs are all natural, geothermal hot springs that delight visitors all year round in a breathtaking Alpine setting. The Springs are a treat in Winter, as some lucky visitors will find themselves bathing during snow fall. Hanmer Springs has plenty of traditional chalets to stay in, and backpackers for the more budget conscious.

Tranzcoastal Train Journeys

Tranzrail now operates the length of the country. If you’ve got some time on your hands, why not take the scenic route through The Land of the Long White Cloud?


Methven is a sweet small town situated only 90km out of Christchurch. Make a day trip if you wish to fish, play gold, jet-boat, tramp, or even hot air balloon!


Akaroa is a beautiful French influenced village about one and a half hour’s drive away for Christchurch. It is a quaint little town, with many boutique shops and cafes. Its attractions include dolphin watching, jet-skiing and breathtaking boat rides in the harbour- which is home to heritage sites, and is actually a dormant volcano crater.



Backpacking NZ | Backpackers News