The Best Christchurch Beaches

8 of the BEST! Summer fun on the beach in Christchurch with the kids

Christchurch Beaches

Head out of the city this summer, without even going far!  Christchurch is the BEST place to hang with the kids and do beach activities, swim, surf, play, picnic and enjoy a fantastic climate plus chilled vibes.
Here are our 8 TOP BEACH SPOTS while in Christchurch with the kids, so grab the family and your favourite toys, the chilly bin and your togs, and get outside!

christchurch beaches  1. Sumner

Christchurch's popular beach location is only a 20 minute drive from the city centre - yet with soft sand, great surf and swim beach, rocks to climb, promenade, cafés and ice creams, you'll feel like you're really out of town!  

If you're keen to have a go at surfing or just want to play on a bodyboard, head towards the Clock Tower and Scarborough Beach.  On most days of summer you'll find surf or bodyboard hire, and surf lessons advertised on the promenade.  They offer kids'  or adults' classes, as well as private lessons.

The promenade is a great spot for strolling or bike/scooter riding, and at the far end you'll find café, toilets, kids' swimming pool and playground.  This is also the end with the best surf.

Sumner Village is home to numerous friendly and laid-back cafés and restaurants, the well-known Hollywood Cinema, plus surf shops, supermarket and other local shops to browse.  Sumner is flanked by the rugged Port Hills - gateway to Lyttelton Harbour and the Banks Peninsula and also home to numerous walking and mountain bike tracks.

2. Taylors Mistake

From Sumner you can pop over Scarborough Hill to the tucked away beach called Taylor's Mistake.  It's off the main drag - in fact, the road ends here, at the beach's carpark.

There are toilets, outdoor showers and picnic tables, and a secluded, sandy beach, that often gets the best surf in the area.  At busy times it may be manned by surf lifesavers.
There are also walks towards Godley Head starting from Taylors Mistake and following the cliffs with spectacular views.

3. New Brighton

Ten minute's drive from Christchurch City brings you to a sandy beach that literally stretches, uninterrupted, for miles along the coast.  It's a popular beach for dog walkers, kite surfers, blowkarters, horse riders and you'll always find a great spot for a family picnic.

If you head north along the beach, a couple of hours walk will bring you to Spencerville, from where you can carry on walking alongside the Brooklands Lagoon, eventually coming out at the Waimakariri River.  Each way will take just over 2 hours.

4. Brighton Pier

The focal point of New Brighton, Brighton Pier stretches over 300m over the sea.  It's a popular spot for fishing, and at the near end you'll find the New Brighton library - a haven of comfy cushions and sofas where you can settle in with a magazine or book, overlooking the ocean.  There's also cafés and restaurants to hand, along with a large children's playground and the popular new hot pool complex.

Kite Day
Kite Day welcomes hundreds of kites of all shapes and sizes, and fantastic designs,  every year.  The summer sky lights up with colour and the creativity of the kites is a must-see!  Buskers and street entertainment, stalls and family fun make this a great family outing - look out for the event early in the year, each summer.

Surfing and Kiteboarding
New Brighton is a popular location to grab a board and learn to surf, or even take kiteboarding lessons.
Meanwhile South Brighton Surf Club is a favourite location for kite surf lessons.  It's more suited to teenagers, as the kites are large and difficult to manage at first.  In fact your first lesson is all about learning to fly the kite on the beach!

5. North Brighton and Bottle Lake

North Brighton beach and surf club take you out of the main town beach area, to a more laid-back spot, with sand dunes leading down to the beach, car parking, toilets, café and large playground with flying fox.

The Pegasus Bay walking/biking track follows alongside the beach to the entrance to Bottle Lake Forest.    If you stay on the 7km stretch of sandy track you come out at Spencerville Park and the far end of Bottle Lake Forest.  This is also the start of Brooklands Lagoon bird sanctuary, with wetland walks and bird viewing platforms.

6. Bottle Lake Forest Park

A mountain biker's paradise, especially for family or beginner bikers.  There are dozens of dedicated biking, walking or horseriding tracks winding through the forest.

The far end of Bottle Lake Forest brings you out to Spencerville - a recreation area with BBQs,  sheltered picnic spots, paddling pool, flying fox, children's adventure playground, mini golf and the exciting Adrenalin Forest, where you can take a walk in the treetops.

7. Corsair Bay

A popular, secluded bay in Lyttelton Harbour, where the littlies can paddle and play to their heart's content, without the big tides or waves of open sea.  It's a buzzy, gorgeous and very social hang out, with grassy, shady areas and perfect picnic set up spots.  Very popular with swimmers, kayakers and SUP fans, and a good place to try these skills as it's generally calm.

8. Okains Bay

Further afield you can head out with the kids and the camping gear, to Okains Bay camping ground.  A truly idyllic kiwi campsite with the sea and river only a few steps away.  Christchurch families are so fond of this spot the kids are bound to meet friends and be out and about all day!

Map of New Zealand
  • Central Otago
  • Auckland
  • Bay of Plenty
  • Christchurch
  • Dunedin
  • Coromandel
  • Gisborne
  • Fiordland
  • Marlborough Sounds
  • Manawatu
  • Northland
  • North Canterbury
  • Queenstown
  • South Canterbury
  • Taranaki
  • Southland
  • Taupo
  • Wanaka
  • Waikato
  • Wellington
  • West Coast
  • Whangarei
  • Bay of Islands
  • Tauranga
  • Gisborne
  • Hamilton
  • Napier
  • Kapiti
  • Palmerston North
  • Whanganui
  • New Plymouth
  • Arrowtown
  • Te Anau
  • Akaroa
  • Ashburton
  • Hanmer
  • Kaikoura
  • Methven
  • Mt Cook
  • Oamaru
  • Tekapo
  • Timaru
  • Abel Tasman
  • Motueka
  • Nelson Lakes
  • Blenheim
  • Picton
  • Catlins
  • Gore
  • Stewart Island
  • Central Plateau
  • Invercargill
  • Cromwell
  • Greymouth
  • Hokitika
  • Westport
  • Glenorchy

Our favourite destinations…


New Zealand’s economic heart and biggest city is also an exciting family visitor destination, situated on a sunny harbour with city beaches just minutes away from the CBD. Orientate yourself by heading down to Viaduct Harbour, wandering the waterfront, checking out the super yachts or enjoying the waterfront restaurants. Nearby is the must-visit Sky Tower along with excellent and kid-friendly museums and tons of exciting activities!


Wellington is New Zealand’s capital. Here you will find New Zealand's parliament buildings, including the 'Executive Wing', more well-known as 'The Beehive' due to its distinctive shape. Another icon to look out for is the Wellington Tram, which was the main means of public transport between 1878 and 1964.


With a population of around 400,000 Christchurch, in Canterbury, is the South Island ’s largest city, yet much of it has the feel of a small town. Perhaps that’s why it’s known as the Garden City but with the expansive Hagley Park, Botanic Gardens, Port Hills, River Avon and numerous beaches the city certainly has an open, relaxed feel that’s hard to beat.


With its well-deserved reputation as New Zealand’s activity adventure capital you’ll never run out of activities and things to do in Queenstown, but you may run out of time! With breathtaking scenery, activities and festivals, cafes and restaurants, skiing and snowboarding, shopping and wineries, this lakeside alpine resort rates as one of the world’s top vacation destinations for all ages and seasons.


Rotorua sits on the shore of Lake Rotorua, one of sixteen lakes in the area formed by hundreds of thousands of years of eruptions from the Taupo Volcanic Zone. The area is renowned for its geothermal activity and top of any activity list is to see the bubbling mud pools that are around the region for yourself. The Waimangu Volcanic Valley offers a first hand insight into the devastation caused by the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera and is a great place to discover steaming volcanic craters and bubbling, spitting  pools of mud!

Nelson and Golden Bay

The Nelson and Golden Bay regions, at the top of the South Island, boast enviable sunshine hours, glorious sandy beaches, safe swimming spots, lots of wildlife to look out for, and Abel Tasman National Park - an absolute must to explore, on foot, by kayak, your own craft or watertaxi.  Nelson is home to a vibrant arts and crafts community with a fabulous Saturday market, and is close to award-winning wineries and family-friendly bike tracks to take you around the coast.

Hawkes Bay

Napier was rebuilt after the 1931 earthquake and is now known as NZ's Art Deco City.  The Art Deco influence has created a unique city – nowhere else can you see such a varied concentration of art deco style. With over 2,200 sunshine hours a year, Napier is a year-round holiday destination with countless activities to entertain the kids – there's days of entertainment on Marine Parade alone, plus numerous other family-friendly trips and activities.  Add to that the beaches, walks and flat cycle paths, outdoor cafes and entertainment, and you have a perfect holiday destination!


Beautiful, unspoiled beaches, fishing, historic gum fields, kauri forests – the Far North has it all. With subtropical temperatures, it's often known as ‘the Winterless north', with warm, humid summers and mild winters.
Gateway to the Bay of Islands, Paihia is a pretty, lively beachside town and a perfect base for your family holiday. It’s your start point for Bay of Island adventures including day cruises, sailing, kayaking, swimming with dolphins and reef or wreck diving.