Christchurch Car Hire – City Highlights

When staying in an unfamiliar city overnight or for a few days or more it can be tricky to figure out the best way to spend the day, and most importantly make the most of the time you have available. Searching online or visiting information centres for fun things to do can take a considerable amount of time – especially when you could be out there enjoying yourself.

To give you a jump start we have put together this guide to the best highlights, attractions and activities to be found in Christchurch for free, at night and with the kids. So go, get out there and enjoy your holiday in Christchurch now.

Top 3 Things To Do In Christchurch For Free

1. Take A Walk Through Hagley Park

Centrally located, with access from various locations around its fringes, Hagley Park is a huge asset to the city of Christchurch. Stretching out over 165 hectares the park is a favourite with runners, walkers, cyclists, families and sports players who are often found making use of the grounds at all hours of the day.

Located throughout the park visitors will find some of the best picnic spots in Christchurch, with beautiful mature trees, free barbeques, drinking water and toilets all readily available. In the centre of Hagley Park lays the beautiful Botanic Gardens – absolutely stunning on a warm summers day and also the Canterbury Museum, both free to enter and well worth a visit. You could easily spend a whole day just exploring the Park, feeding the ducks, playing on the playgrounds and even catching an outdoor concert or event.

2. Hit The Beach At New Brighton

Head out along the Pier, stroll on the beach, build sandcastles or go for a swim in the waves. Heading to the beach for the day is easy at New Brighton, enjoy a coffee at one of the many cafes or a lazy lunch at a local restaurant. Kids a little bit small for the waves? No problem there is a public paddling pool located at the main playground, perfect for the little ones to join in the fun but also stay safe.

Chat to one of the local fisherman at the end of the Pier and see if the fish are biting, or bring a line along with you and try your luck – you never know what you might catch! If fishing is not you thing then why not fly a kite, collect shells, have a go at surfing or catch one of the many regular scheduled events on at New Brighton. If the wind gets up and you have had enough sun wander over to the New Brighton Museum on Hardy street and learn a bit about the history of New Brighton.

3. Experience The Old And The New In The CBD

Throughout the city the remnants of the devastating Christchurch earthquakes are still clearly visible. While the piles of rubble have slowly been replaced with blank spaces and reinforcing holding up brick walls and shop frontages has disappeared, the impact this natural event has had on the city is very obvious.

Just taking a short drive around the city streets is quite eye opening when considering all the empty spaces used to be buildings. The famous Christchurch Cathedral still stands in ruins, cordoned off and caught in a seemingly endless discussion of whether to restore or demolish. Amongst the uncertainty though a new vibe is immerging, new shops, new buildings and new features are popping up all over the city, so head out and take a look around you may be surprised at what you will find.

6 Great Things To Do In Christchurch At Night

1. The Isaac Theatre Royal

An iconic entertainment venue, Christchurch’s Isaac Theatre Royal offers the ideal opportunity to experience the grandeur of times gone by with its historic features and live performances. With shows ranging from ballet performances including an accompanying live orchestra, modern concerts, comedy acts and much more there is sure to be something for everyone.

2. Movies At The Tannery

Looking for something a bit more special than the regular movie going experience? Try the Deluxe Cinemas at the Tannery in Woolston. Complete with a licenced café and wine bar, two theatres and a wide selection of films to choose from – going to the movies in Christchurch will be a highlight of your trip.

3. The Tramway Restaurant

Nothing says Christchurch like eating on the Tramway Restaurant. Dine in style on the only tram restaurant in New Zealand and enjoy the ever-changing Christchurch landscape as you make your way around the central city. Enjoy a welcome drink upon arrival and a three course meal over approximately 2 and a half hours, bookings are essential.

4. Christchurch Art Gallery

Wednesday night only, the Christchurch Art Gallery is open until 9 pm. Wander the peaceful surrounds while enjoying both national and international exhibitions before heading out into the city for a meal or to make a night of it.

5. Craft Beer Tours

Christchurch’s craft beer scene has taken off in recent years, with many micro-breweries popping up around the city. A tour is the easiest way to make a night of it and not have to worry about where to go or how to get there. Scoff & Quaff Taste Tours are a good place to start or try Barrel Tours or  Pomeroy’s Beer Baroness Brewery Tours.

6. The Ko Tane Maori Cultural Experience

Experience an authentic Maori evening bound to delight and inform at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. Take part in a Maori welcome, learn the Haka, a Poi dance and Waiata ringa (participation is encouraged) and learn about the relationship between Maori and the native flora and fauna of NZ. After the performance enjoy a four course meal with ‘Hangi’ style food.

Top 3 Things To Do In Christchurch Today

1. Enjoy A Festival Or Local Event

Time it right and Christchurch offers loads of free events and festivals to enjoy. The World Buskers Festival held in January is always a good one, along with the Christchurch Arts Festival in September, the Lyttleton Festival of Lights Street Party in June, Diwali celebrations in October and much more.

Others might be interested in the Body Mind and Spirit Festival held in mid-October, the Great Kiwi Beer Festival in January, Cup and Show week in November and one of the many live music events like Electric Avenue held regularly in Hagley Park.

2. Visit The Farmers Market At Riccarton House

Set among the ancient towering Kahikatea trees of Riccarton Bush, Riccarton House provides an excellent heritage destination for travellers looking for something a bit different. Set about exploring the house grounds and bush walk on your own or view the inside of the house by guided tour.

Every Saturday from 9 am till 1 pm visitors will also find the premier Christchurch Farmers Market. With over 80 stalls most being fresh produce or prepared foods, the market is top of the list for many locals on a Saturday morning. Parking on the surrounding streets is in high demand so be sure to get in early.

3. Walk, Walk And Walk

Whether you prefer city walks through the streets, a peaceful stroll through a park or full on hiking steep rugged terrain – Christchurch has it all. The Port Hills offers enthusiast walkers a multitude of tracks and trails across its rocky outcrops and rugged hillside terrain. Or for shaded walk on a hot day try the Bottle Lake Forest Park.

For some easy pushchair friendly walks take a look at Horseshoe Lake (1.5 km) and Travis Wetlands (4km). For a nice beach side walk see the Waimakariri Walkway at Heyders Road, Spencerville. At 5 km in length this walk makes a nice loop if you choose to return via the beach.

Best 8 Things To Do In Christchurch With Kids

1. Airforce Museum

Whether you join a guided tour or wander about on your own, the Airforce Museum of NZ is a fantastic place to spend an afternoon with the kids. See full size aircraft exhibitions, interactive displays and historic military memorabilia, and stop by the café for a bite to eat or browse the Museum gift shop for a souvenir. The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm daily and entry is free.

2. Orana Wildlife Park

Visit New Zealand’s only open-range zoo featuring an extensive native collection of animals plus endangered birds and reptiles. Spread over 80 hectare the inhabitants of Orana Wildlife Park range from Meerkats and Lemurs through to Tigers, Lions, Rhinos and Giraffe along with the native NZ Kiwi and other New Zealand birdlife. The Park is open 10 am to 5 pm daily at a cost of $34.50 per adult and $9.50 per child.

3. Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

Experience some of New Zealand’s endangered wildlife at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve as well as a few exotic species like the Siamang Gibbons and the Ring Tailed Lemurs. Don’t miss the chance to feed the Long Finned Eels and check out the Tuatara. The Reserve is open 9.30 am to 5 pm in the winter months and till 7 pm in the summer. Entry costs $29.50 for adults and $12 for children. There is a lovely onsite cafe and gift shop or you are welcome to take your own food in. 

4. Halswell Miniature Trains

If your kids love trains the Halswell Domain Miniature Trains are the perfect thing for a Sunday afternoon. Operating between 1 and 4 pm every Sunday (weather permitting) the Domain has several miniature trains on offer. Parents must ride with younger children and rides cost $2 (bring cash). Check out the Halswell Miniature Trains Facebook page for more information.

5. Antarctic Centre

See Little Blue Penguins, authentic Antarctic exhibition artefacts and experience the force (and noise!) of an artic storm at Christchurch’s award winning Antarctic Centre. Fun for the whole family the Antarctic Centre is located just a few minutes from the Christchurch Airport and is open 9 am to 5.30 pm daily, entry prices start at $59 per adult and $29 per child.

6. Clip N Climb

Have fun climbing to the top of a variety of different walls and challenges at Clip n Climb’s indoor climbing arena in Christchurch. Automatic belay devices make climbing easy, safe and fun for the whole family. Sessions last 60 minutes and cost around $20 per adult and $12 per child. Opening hours do vary so check the website for details.

7. Adrenalin Forest

Challenge you fears and take part in this fantastic aerial obstacle course navigating your way through a series of activities 20 metres in the air. The entire Adrenalin Forest Christchurch course takes around 3 hours to complete, but participants are able to disembark at any point along the way. Open from 10 am to 2 pm (weather dependent), participants must be over 1.45 metres tall to complete the more difficult parts of the course.

8. Jellie Park Pools

Kids love to swim, add in a hydroslide… or three and you can pretty much guarantee Jellie Park is going to be their favourite Christchurch destination. Providing a variety of pools sutiable for all ages, Jellie Park has indoor facilities that operate year round as well as outdoor pools that are open from November till April. Entry costs are $6 for adults and $3.50 for children, opening hours do vary so check before you head in.

With so many great things to see and do in Christchurch and Canterbury there’s no time to waste. Create your own schedule with a Christchurch hire car and experience it all at your own pace.

For convenient Christchurch car hire, choose USAVE Car Rentals and explore the city and beyond.

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