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christchurch itineraries
Experience Oz Presents

Christchurch Itineraries

by Brittney Deguara

Christchurch offers a pleasant balance of typical New Zealand activities, with its combined alpine and waterfront location offering plenty of things to see and do.

Dubbed the 'Garden City', Christchurch boasts abundant greenery not just within the city limits but on all sides surrounding it, making it yet another wonderful NZ destination for nature enthusiasts and those who love the great outdoors.

With such a wide range of activities to take part in, planning an efficient Christchurch itinerary is often a difficult process, particularly if you are strapped for time, so to help out we've put together a recommended itinerary for stays of lengths 1 to 5 days in Christchurch. Our aim here is to provide first-time visitors with what we believe are the best possible combinations of must-see and must-do highlights of their time spent in and around Christchurch.

Day 1

Explore Christchurch

Get your bearings in this beautiful South Island city by spending your first day walking around and visiting some of the city's best sights, some of which are entirely free! Depending on where you're staying you can walk into the city or catch a bus, which run quite regularly to the main bus depot in the city. You can begin your adventure in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park, a city known for its gardens, these are both something to admire. With a walkway lined with large trees, expansive grassed fields, a duck-filled pond and a flourishing garden, the Botanic Gardens are like something out of a story book. Be prepared for a fair amount of walking or cycling around the gardens.

Hagley Park

Hagley Park | Image: Julian Apse

After you've explored the grounds make your way into the city to explore Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu completely free of charge. Housing a number of different collections that will intrigue even the youngest of minds, the gallery is split over two levels and only requires you to check your bag in before entering. After you've spent a few hours admiring and interacting with the different exhibits, you can make your way further into the city to the RE:start Mall. A temporary set up for local businesses to call home after the earthquake, the mall has now become somewhat of an attraction. With a number of souvenir, clothing, department, and food stalls housed in the area you can do all of your holiday shopping in one convenient place.

Continue your day of exploring and sightseeing with a visit to Canterbury Museum. Since opening in 1870, Canterbury Museum has grown to become one of the most popular attractions in the city and is definitely worth a visit during your stay in the 'Garden City'. Entry to the museum is also free however donations are welcomed, making this a fun, cost-effective activity for the whole family to enjoy.

Day 2

Visit Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

A popular wildlife attraction home to the big 5; kiwi, tuatara, kea, takahe, and kaka, you're guaranteed to see some adorable, friendly and hungry animals during your visit. In operation for more than 30 years, the reserve is located just 15 minutes from the city centre. Home to a selection of animals including fallow deer, wallabies, Siamang Gibbons, ring-tailed lemurs, peacocks, Kune Kune pigs, llamas, goats, and heaps of roaming chickens, roosters and chicks.

Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

Fallow Deer at Willowbank | Image: Brittney Deguara

In addition to being home to five of New Zealand's most iconic animals, there is also a sighting guarantee. If you wander into the dark kiwi enclosure and don't spot some of the foraging locals then the friendly rangers are more than happy to help you spot one. You can't go to New Zealand and not see one of the most famous animals in the country, and this is one of the best ways to do so.

The Reserve is also known for its cultural experience; Ko Tane. The Ko Tane cultural tour is a memorable experience that will teach you about the Maori culture, lifestyles, and traditions. The experience includes a traditional welcoming, performance and a four-course hangi meal in the licensed restaurant.

Great for all ages to enjoy, the wildlife reserve is even a popular and enjoyable attraction to visit on wetter days.



  • Child (under 5yrs): FREE
  • Child (5-14yrs): From $11.64
  • Adult: From $28.62

Admission, Performance & Hangi

  • Child (under 5yrs): FREE
  • Child (5-15yrs): $65.48
  • Adult: $130.95
Buy Tickets

Go Punting on the Avon River

The perfect way to end your second day in Christchurch, Punting on the Avon is both a scenic and romantic activity. Operating all year round with different hours in the summer and winter months, you can feel as though you've been transported to the canals of Venice as you're guided down the Avon River in a comfortable punt.

Avon River Punting

Punting on the Avon River | Image: Christchurch TOP 10 Holiday Park

All punts are handcrafted and are poled along the river by the experienced punter at the back of the boat. The punts depart near Cathedral Square, last for 30 minutes, and can seat up to 10 people per ride. If you're after a longer experience you can upgrade your ride to a 45-minute journey as you sit comfortably with blankets, umbrellas and hot water bottles in winter.

Operating Hours

  • October 1 to 31 March: 9am - 6pm
  • April 1 to September 30: 10am - 4pm


  • Child (under 5yrs): FREE
  • Child (5-15yrs): From $11.64
  • Adult: From $27.16
  • Family (2A+3C): $66.93
Buy Tickets

Day 3

Visit the Waipara Valley

Located around an hour north of Christchurch, the Waipara wine region is a wine-lovers paradise and definitely worth the visit. Known for its incredible Pinot Noir and Riesling wines, Waipara will not disappoint in the food and wine sector.

Waipara Valley

Views over the Waipara Valley | Image: Waipara Valley NZ

The region is also home to a number of farms including olive groves, nut farms and lavender fields. The perfect escape from the city for those who enjoy the nicer things in life, if you're chasing an adventure that combines beautiful sights and delicious wine and food tastings then the Waipara region is your best option.

Day 4

Swim with Dolphins in Akaroa

One of the best wild animal experiences in the region, swimming with the dolphins in the neighbouring town of Akaroa. The waters off Akaroa are home to the smallest and friendliest dolphins in the world making this one of the best wild dolphin experiences available.

Swim with dolphins in Akaroa

Image: Akaroa

Embarking on this adventure with local company Black Cat Cruises is an opportunity you won't want to pass up. Complete with wetsuits and snorkels you'll experience a 3-hour excursion to meet up with the playful pods of dolphins. All you'll need to bring is a towel, swimmers and camera to capture this incredible encounter.


  • Child Spectator (5-15yrs): From $43.65
  • Adult Spectactor: $82.45
  • Child (5-15yrs): $126.10
  • Adult: $155.20
Book Tour

Day 5

Hop aboard the tram & gondola

Spend your last day in Christchurch enjoying two of the most iconic and popular attractions in the city. Begin with a ride on the city loop tram, stopping at 17 different locations around the city including the Avon River, Arts Centre, Botanic Gardens and Canterbury Museum. The hop on hop off aspect of the tram means you can spend the whole day exploring, all you'll need is the tram timetable.

Christchurch Tram

Image: Julian Apse

Now swap the tram tracks for the gondola and you've got yourself one full day of sightseeing. Rise up over the city aboard the Christchurch Gondola for the best views of the city. Rising up above the most popular sights in town including Lyttleton harbour, Port Hills, and the Southern Alps in the distance. Once you've made it to the top the gondola you can grab a bite to eat at the Red Rock Cafe or learn about the region's history with a ride on the Time Tunnel.

This is the perfect day for the whole family to enjoy and a great way to wind down after a long week in this beautiful city. If that isn't enough for you to relax why not head to Hoyts Cinema at Westfield Riccarton and catch a flick before you move on.



  • $19.40 per person (over 15yrs)


  • Child (under 5 yrs): FREE
  • Child (5-15yrs): $11.64
  • Adult: $27.16
  • Family (2A+3C): $66.93
Buy Tickets

Christchurch is a great holiday destination for couples and families alike. Without all of the hustle and bustle of its southern neighbour, Queenstown, Christchurch is a calm, cultured and cool.

Browse All Christchurch Experiences