Christchurch, South Island

including Akaroa and Ashburton

Family Holiday Christchurch

Lyttelton and Harbour, Christchurch

River Avon, Christchurch

Welcome to Christchurch

Walks and Parks

Walks & Parks

Get Outdoors!

Discover the region's walks, parks, beaches, lakes or rivers.

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.

New Brighton and Sumner

If you’re in the city in summer time, pack your beach bag and head for one of these top beach spots. Both offer long, sandy beaches, promenades and that lazy summer atmosphere. When the surf’s up you can try your hand at surfing – either hire a board or take a lesson. Kite surfing lessons are also available. Both seaside suburbs are close to playgrounds, recreation areas, cafes and restaurants. Best of all, you might feel like you're a hundred miles from a city, but you’re only a 15 minute drive from Christchurch CBD!

Lyttelton Harbour

Whether you take the drive over the hill or through the hill (via the famous 2km long Lyttelton tunnel), you’ll leave the city behind and enter another world as you arrive into Lyttelton Port. The village is a bustling, friendly place at the mouth of the Lyttelton Harbour (originally called ‘Cook’s Mistake’). You can look across the bay to the Banks Peninsula , while Quail Island sits right in the middle of the harbour (once a leper colony, the island makes for a great day trip and there are regular ferry services that dock there.) You can also take a ferry straight over to Diamond Harbour and Purau Bay on the Banks Peninsula. See our walks and parks section for more on this trip. If you’ve transport, it’s well worth the drive to follow the road around the Bays. There are lots of great swimming spots, playgrounds and easy walks along the way (check out Rapaki, Cass Bay and Governors Bay for a family picnic and swim).

Methven

Situated inland, 92km from Christchurch, Methven is a year-round resort and the alpine village is your closest base for a visit to Mt Hutt Ski Area. This laid back town has a lively après ski scene in winter, with heaps of accommodation, restaurants, bars and ski or snowboard rental shops. Other activities include rafting, horse trekking and jet boating.   The town itself is surrounded by the flat fields of the Canterbury plains, yet dwarfed by a magnificent backdrop of the Southern Alps and Mt Hutt ski resort, only 20 minutes drive away.  We recommend that particularly in adverse weather or road conditions you consider taking shuttle transport up to the ski field, as the access road can be treacherous, and conditions also change rapidly throughout the day.   

Ashburton

An hour’s drive south of Christchurch, Ashburton is a large farming town. It offers accommodation, parks and gardens, beaches and picnic spots.

Akaroa and Banks Peninsula

Just 85km from Christchurch, Akaroa is a historic settlement of French origin. Nestled right in the heart of an ancient volcano, the colourful seaside village is full of colonial architecture, craft stores and cafes, not to mention fantastic homemade fudge! The must-do Akaroa activity has to be a dolphin experience. The Hectors Dolphin is the world’s smallest and rarest. They also happen to be fantastic to watch, as they’re among the most acrobatic! You won’t find a shortage of boat trips on offer to take you to view or even swim with these beautiful creatures. You can also take penguin and seal tours or hire your own transport, from kayaks or u-drive boats to bikes or mopeds. 

 

Map of New Zealand
  • Queenstown
  • Northland
  • Bay of Plenty
  • Wanaka
  • Fiordland
  • Taupo
  • Coromandel
  • Gisborne
  • North Canterbury
  • Waikato
  • Hawkes Bay
  • South Canterbury
  • Manawatu
  • Rotorua
  • Nelson & Golden Bay
  • Taranaki
  • Marlborough Sounds
  • Southland
  • Central Otago
  • Dunedin
  • 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

Our favourite destinations…

Auckland destination2

Auckland

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

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.

Christchurch

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.

Queenstown

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

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!

Northland

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.