New Zealand is divided into two islands: North Island and South Island. While the North Island is mainly about cities, the South Island is all about exploring the scenic beauty of New Zealand and is all about towns, the city of Christchurch is an exception and an important city in the South Island.
Christchurch is usually on most South Island itineraries as a point of entry and exit for tourists. Either way, there are a lot of Christchurch attractions to explore in this lovely city during your stay.
What to see in Christchurch? | Christchurch Sight-seeing
Christchurch is a city, best explored on foot. And as you keep walking, you’re likely to stumble into some beautiful sights in the city. Not all these sights are likely to be tourist attractions, but they are creations that you can definitely spend a few minutes to marvel at.
The Christchurch Cathedral in the center of the city was massively destroyed during the 2011 earthquakes in the city that caused massive destruction to lives and property in the city. While the Cathedral awaits renovation, it is likely to be until 2027 for the works to be completed. In the meanwhile, the damaged Cathedral stands tall, with fencing showcasing what remains of the city’s main Cathedral.
After the damage done by the earthquake in 2011 to the Christchurch Cathedral, a Transitional Cathedral was erected till the original structure was restored. This cathedral was built completely out of cardboard by Japanese architect, Shigera Ban. This was built in the place of St. John Baptist’s Cathedral which was completely demolished after the earthquake.
The Cardboard Cathedral is also a spot for various community events and concerts and is at a walking distance from the Cathedral Square.
Bridge of Remembrance
The Bridge of Remembrance at the mouth of Cashel Street in Christchurch is a memorial to the martyrs of World War I & II and to those who lost their lives in the subsequent conflicts in Korea, Malaya, Borneo, and Vietnam. It was commemorated by Governor-General, Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Jellicoe on 11th November 1924.
This bridge over the Avon river looks extremely beautiful when lit up after sunset.
While you’re walking through the pretty streets of Christchurch, you cannot possibly miss the stunning street art spread across the various walls of the city. Unlike many cities where street art is a mere expression of rebellion, in Christchurch, it is all about sharing beautiful messages and happy sketches that can brighten up your day.
There are so many art pieces on the streets of Christchurch that you could literally spend a day, only going through each one of these.
We stayed at an actual Jailhouse in Christchurch. Read our complete experience here.
What to do in Christchurch? | Christchurch Attractions
If you’d rather do something than simply walk around and discover the Christchurch attractions, there’s a lot that you can experiment in the city itself. Each of these activities spans approximately an hour or two and have a great exposure to the city to offer.
Punting on the Avon
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It was day 1 in Christchurch & we fell in love with this city. Friendly locals, happy people already made our day a lot better. The first activity that we decided to do was the famous #PuntingOnTheAvon. Avon River is around 26km long & quite shallow. @puntingontheavon is a popular activity in Christchurch. This 30 mins guided tour is an absolutely must for anyone visiting Christchurch. We got The Grand Tour from @christchurchattractions which included Punting & 3 more activities. Our guide was funny & friendly. He took us around the Avon river & told some interesting trivia about history, buildings & well, ducks. This was surely an amazing way to start our Christchurch exploration. #AwaraDiaries #AwaraInNZ #ChristchurchAttractions #Christchurch #myiconicchch #christchurchnz #christchurchattractions #explorechristchurch #christchurch #nzmustdo #punt #purenz #avonriver #spring
One of the tourist’s favorite attractions of Christchurch is Punting on the Avon River. During this 30-minute punting activity, you can get on the boat, cover yourself with a warm blanket to avoid feeling cold and have a punter ride you across the Avon river, whilst giving you information about the little things that you will see during your trip- the ducks in the river, Botanical Garden on your right, the daisies in the city and the tallest tree. You can obviously explore a lot more fun information and conversations from the punters who are extremely friendly and chirpy for a nice conversation to give you an insight into the city.
Cost Per Ticket: 30NZD
Time Required: 45 Minutes
Book your punting tickets here: Punting Tickets
Due to the proximity of the Punting Activity and Botanic gardens, you could take up both these activities back-to-back.
Christchurch Botanic Garden
The Christchurch Botanic Gardens were founded in 1863 with a single English Oak Tree. Today, the gardens boast of a variety of flora across the seasons and a whole collection of the native daffodils.
A Botanic Tour is highly recommended when visiting Christchurch.
Unfortunately, we missed the guided tour but if you plan on covering various attractions, you must check the guided tour timings before heading to the gardens.
Cost Per Ticket: 20NZD
Time Required: 75 Minutes
Book your Botanic Garden tickets here: Botanic Garden Tickets
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The third activity we did in Christchurch was the @christchurchtram tour. This 50 minutes journey in this vintage tran (which is an attraction in itself) goes around Christchurch’s most visited sights. This tram tour also works as Hop On Hop off Tram for everyone interested in visiting the main attractions of Christchurch. Our tram tour was included in the grand tour by @christchurchattractions but tourists can buy the tickets separately. Christchurch is a peaceful city which is simply warm, friendly & welcoming! 🥰🇳🇿 #AwaraDiaries #AwaraInNZ #ChristchurchAttractions #MyIconicChCh #christchurchnz #christchurchtram #purenz #newzealand @christchurchnz
The city of Christchurch still has a functional tram. It operates across a fixed path of some of the most important spots in the city regularly. You can opt to experience the tram journey on across the day while stopping at the spots you want to explore. Alternatively, you could take a 45 minutes interactive tour of the city with commentary on the tram.
You’ll be surprised to know how wonderful it feels exploring the city on a tram!
Cost Per Ticket: 25NZD
Time Required: 75 Minutes
Book your tram tickets here: Tram Journey Tickets
Additionally, you can also opt to have lunch at the Tramway Restaurant, which is basically a meal served inside a moving tram.
Christchurch Gondola (cable car) is another key attraction in the city. On booking your gondola tickets from Christchurch attractions, you can take a shuttle bus from the Cathedral Square which will take you to the Christchurch Gondola, about 20 minutes’ drive from the city.
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The second attraction on our day 1 was #ChristchurchGondola. This famous gondola is just 20 mins away from the city center & it takes anywhere between 5-10 mins to reach on top via Gondola. This attraction was also included in our Grand Tour by @christchurchattractions. From the top of @christchurchgondola, we saw the panoramic view of the city & some really beautiful vistas of the surrounding areas. It was quite windy but we enjoyed nonetheless. There’s a small ride called Time Tunnel on top which is a historical account of the Canterbury region. If you love seeing landscapes like us, then don’t miss this beautiful attraction when you visit @christchurchnz. #AwaraDiaries #AwaraInNZ #ChristchurchAttractions #MyIconicChCh #Christchurch #Christchurchnz #ExploreChristchurch #Nzmustdo #Purenz #spring
After checking in at the office, you can hop on to a gondola which will take you at the top in 5 minutes. From the top of the Port Hills, you can witness the scenic beauty of coastal Christchurch. You can also get a view of the Banks Peninsula. It’s a bit of a hike there, but you can enjoy the panoramic view of the city or grab a bite with a view from the Café at the top.
You will pass through the gift shop with Kiwi products. There’s also a little presentation on the history of Christchurch- ‘Time Tunnel Experience’.
You can stay on top of the mountain for as long as you like, just make sure to make it back in time for the last shuttle.
This is one attraction that you absolutely wouldn’t want to miss when in Christchurch!
Cost Per Ticket: 30 NZD
Time Required: 120 Minutes
Book your Christchurch Gondola tickets here: Gondola Tickets
You can also opt for the combination tickets of these attractions to save some money. All deals, schedules, and tickets are available at the Christchurch Attractions office near Cathedral Square. While tickets are easily available, it’s always best to pre-book all tours to skip crowds or miss out on timings.
Christchurch has been in news over the last few years for various reasons. Particularly the earthquake in 2011 and the Mosque Shooting in early 2019. However, you must make a note that despite all the minor hiccups, the city is completely safe and full of warm and helpful people who will show you your way around and stop by to have a quick conversation.
So, make sure you also keep yourself open and available to conversations. You’ll have the happiest time in Christchurch thanks to the lovely locals!
Disclaimer: Some of our activities in Christchurch were comped by Christchurch Attractions. However, all opinions in this post are honest and unbiased as always.