Learn about the most worthwhile things to do in Christchurch with kids with our extensive list of tried-and-tested recommendations.
Christchurch is a city that has undergone an incredible change.
After suffering the effects of devastating earthquakes over a decade ago, this incredible city has rebuilt and is better than ever.
There, you’ll find a wealth of things to do with your children.
Whether you’re looking for educational experiences or adrenaline-inducing ones, you will find it in the Garden City!
We’ve intentionally included a wide selection of family-friendly activities in this list, ensuring you’ll be able to entertain your children, regardless of the weather of their interests.
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Discover the Best Things to Do in Christchurch with Kids – Family Approved!
1. Visit the International Antarctic Centre
One of the most popular family-friendly attractions in Christchurch, a visit to the International Antarctic Centre is a must.
The centre is filled with a range of interactive and engaging exhibits that make learning about Antarctica fun.
You’ll have the opportunity to meet penguins and huskies, to ride an incredible all-terrain vehicle (known as a Hägglund) and to feel what it’s really like in an Antarctic snowstorm.
Your children will also get an insight into what life was like during those first expeditions and what it’s like now for scientists living on the snow and ice.
Don’t miss a visit when you’re planning your next visit to Christchurch.
Pro Tip: This wonderful facility is located close to the airport, making it the perfect first stop on your itinerary (or the last one, as you prepare to fly out).
2. Get Active at Adrenalin Forest
If you’ve got an adventurous whānau, a visit to Adrenalin Forest will be top of your list when it comes with things to do in Christchurch with kids.
This is a high ropes course with an edge. With courses starting at just 1m high, but pushing up to 20m above the ground, it is the perfect opportunity for challenge by choice.
There, children can swing, soar, zip and walk their way across a number of challenging obstacles, designed to test their balance, strength and agility – all from the safety of a harness, of course.
Note: Children are considered those under 18 but must be over 1.4m in height.
3. Feed the Animals at Willowbank
If your little ones love animals, there are two places in Christchurch that you just have to visit – Willowbank is one of those and Orana Park is another. Each offer significantly different experiences, making them both a worthwhile addition to your itinerary.
The Willowbank Wildlife Reserve is something of a local institution. A hit with all age groups, this is an immersive wildlife park that allows its guests to get up close to its furry, fluffy, feathery, scaly friends – and there are so, so many of them. From kiwi to wallabies, otters to donkeys, they have such a massive variety of animals.
Bags of food can be purchased at the entrance (for only $3 a cup or $4 a bag) to feed their farm animals, fish, eels or birds).
In addition to wandering at your own pace, we recommend heading along to the feeding sessions, where your children will be able to see the keepers interact with and talk about the animals in their care.
- 12.35 pm – Eels
- 12.50 pm – Kea
- 1.00 pm – Otters
- 1.15 pm – Gibbons
Be sure to also pay a visit to their nocturnal kiwi house to see our national bird in the dark.
Related: Willowbank Wildlife Reserve map.
4. Visit an African Safari at Orana Park
Though it’s hard to believe Christchurch would be home to giraffe, lions, meerkats, Tasmanian devils and gorillas, you’ll find them all (and so much more) at the Orana Wildlife Park.
Set on 80 hectares, this open air park is absolutely massive. In addition to the savannah animals that they care for, you’ll also find a great selection of New Zealand natives and some farm animals too.
Keeper feeding sessions are held throughout the day, starting at 10.45 am and finishing at 3.45 pm. These informative sessions are well worth checking out.
With a strong focus on conservation and education, this is a wildlife park determined to make a difference.
Related: Orana Wildlife Park map.
Did you know? Orana Park have carts that travel around the park, allowing everyone to rest their feet as required. It is also pram-friendly if you’ve got little ones in tow.
5. Explore the Godley Head Walk
If you’re looking for a free Christchurch activity that will entertain the kids, why not head to the Godley Head Walk?
This 8km loop walk starts (and finishes) at the Taylors Mistake car park and takes approximately 3 hours to complete. If that’s a bit much for your family, it’s possible to just walk as far as you want before turning around.
Along the way your family may have the chance to spot a white-flippered penguin colony, lots of seabirds and even rare Hector’s dolphins, seals or whales.
You will also see a number of quirky old baches and equipment and buildings left over from past war preparations.
This historic walk rewards with stunning scenery, making it a local favourite.
Related: The best walks in Christchurch.
6. Treat the Kids to the Most Amazing Gelato
If your family is a fan of ice cream or gelato, there’s only one place to head whilst in Christchurch – Rollickin Gelato.
With delicious flavours and only the best quality ingredients, a visit to this amazing gelato shop will make everyone in your family happy.
Some of our favourite flavours include:
- Yogi Bear – Whipped yoghurt gelato with dollops of thick gooey ooey caramel. A sweet and sour combo that’s a real crowd favourite.
- Hokey Tokey Pokey – Mountains of house-made hokey pokey dipped in chocolate then smashed & folded into creamy vanilla bean gelato. A real kiwi classic, fancied up.
- Mister Mint Choc – Real mint leaves & organic milk, whipped into a minty creamy gelato and layered with dark chocolate.
Choose to pull up a seat, or grab your gelato to go – the choice is yours.
7. Enjoy a Soak at New Brighton
Located out in New Brighton, He Puna Taimoana is a relatively new hot pool complex.
This beautiful beachside facility includes five different hot pools, along with a cold plunge pool, making it a hit with parents and kids alike.
It’s the perfect place to relax and warm up when the weather is a bit cooler.
They also have a cafe, if you’re looking for a bite to eat.
Related: The best hot pools in the South Island.
Related: The best hot springs in New Zealand.
Related: The best cafes in Christchurch.
Pro Tip: When you’ve finished at the pools, we suggest taking the kids for a walk along the Brighton Pier and along the beach too. Have the kids keep their togs on too, as they’ll likely want to use them at the next activity we’re about to recommend too…
8. Play on the New Brighton Beachside Playground
The New Brighton Beachside Playground is a magnet for families with younger children.
With both wet and dry play areas, it’s a whole lot of fun!
Kids enjoy a large rope climbing frame, musical toys, water cannons and a large waka ( that they can climb into and play inside. In addition, there’s an iconic whale (which is a replica of the original found at a nearby playground) and a clever heating solution, ensuring the water is kept warm for comfort.
We’re sure you’ll agree that on a sunny day there’s no better place to be!
9. Go Rock Climbing
When the weather outside is bad, Clip ‘n Climb is a great kid-friendly option.
We love the unique and fun climbing walls they have on offer there, along with the automatic belay system (which means shorter lines to climb, resulting in more time on the wall).
After a quick training session (that’s included in the cost of entry), your kids will be away, exploring their different climbing walls. And with 38 different climbs, there really is something for everyone (including you, if you want to get involved).
Sessions include 60 minutes of climbing time and includes access to the Vertical Drop and Leap of Faith – both will excite even the bravest of children.
Pro Tip: Wear loose, comfortable clothing and closed toe shoes whilst climbing. Sandals and jandals are not suitable to climb in.
10. Let the Kids Try Out Bouldering
Perhaps your family have tried indoor rock climbing, but you have tried bouldering?
Quickly growing in popularity, bouldering involves free climbing walls and overhangs – that means your kids will be climbing without a harness. Don’t worry though, bouldering courses don’t reach as high as rock climbing walls and cushioned floors help soften any falls.
Uprising has both a full-sized bouldering gym and a newly opened kids’ climbing area (called Blocland). Blocland is suitable for children aged 5 and below, whilst kids aged 6-13 will also enjoy this space (along with the main gym).
Great for fitness, agility and confidence, bouldering is a great thing to do on a rainy Christchurch day.
11. Blow of Steam at the Margaret Mahy Playground
If the sun’s shining, we suggest you make a move for the Margaret Mahy Playground.
This incredible play space is known as an all-ages, all-ability facility.
With a wealth of playground gear, a water play area, food and coffee vendors, free BBQs and covered picnic areas, this is a wonderful place to set up camp for an afternoon.
Expansive and innovative, every child visiting the Garden City will enjoy a visit to this playground!
12. Check Out a Scooter/Bike Park
Christchurch is home to a number of quality scooter and bike parks.
From pump tracks (designed to build up speed with rhythmic humps) to learn-to-ride street courses, these parks are an excellent way to entertain the kids without spending a cent – assuming you’ve brought bikes and scooters from home.
Our favourite tracks include Knights Stream Park, Ilam School (outside of school hours), Westburn Reserve, Detour Pump Track (near the Margaret Mahy Playground) and City Promenade (another one that leads to the Margaret Mahy Playground, ideal for younger children).
With amazing tracks like these, it’s worth popping the relevant gear in the book of your car (or on the bike track) if you can.
13. Explore the Christchurch Adventure Park
The Christchurch Adventure park is an action-packed destination for families in Ōtautahi (Christchurch).
Hop on the chairlift heading up the Port Hills before racing your mountain bike back down.
Alternatively, walk to the top (keeping an eye out for fairy doors whilst still down the bottom of the park) before boarding the chairlift down (for free).
Are you ready for this? We’ve got the highest (at 150 metres) and the longest (just over 1 kilometre) ziplines in New Zealand.Christchurch Adventure Park
If your little one is new to mountain biking, why not take them for a spin on their kids only trail, known as Bridging the Gap? It’s designed so parents can watch youngsters as they get a feel for this awesome sport – and as they have bikes for hire at the park, you don’t even need to have your own in tow.
When you’re ready to refuel, be sure to stop off at the cafe too. They serve delicious pizzas and smoothies which are just the ticket after a day of adventure.
14. Hit the Mountain Bike Trails (with Older Kids)
If your kids are into mountain biking, there are lots of other worthwhile trails in Christchurch too.
Take your pick from Victoria Park (which also has great walking trails), McLeans Forest (perfect for younger kids, learning to mountain bike), Bottle Lake Forest Park (a manageable and fairly flat loop track) and the Crocodile XC Mountainbike Park (best for more advanced riders).
Enjoy the range of mountain biking tracks that Christchurch has on offer for your family – just be sure to take it slowly, ensuring new mountain bikers are confident each step of the way.
15. Bring History to Life at the Air Force Museum of New Zealand
Travelling in New Zealand can be pretty pricey so we’re all for a worthwhile freebie.
The Air Force Museum of New Zealand is exactly that!
Kids love the full-scale planes and jets on display. In fact, this is the largest collection of genuine, complete military aircraft in the country.
In an effort to make the museum as engaging as possible, the team creates a range of age-appropriate Museum Hunts. These challenges (that change each school holiday) are suitable for kids aged 4-12 and cost just $6 (including a fun reward). They’re a fantastic way to explore new parts of the museum together.
Before leaving, be sure to check out the ever-popular Mosquito Mission flight simulator too. Using quality graphics and realistic handling, this flight sim puts your children in control.
16. Visit Quake City with Your Family
Christchurch was badly affected by major earthquakes in 2011 (and the years that followed), with much of the city needing to be rebuilt and repaired.
Whilst you’re in town, we recommend heading along to Quake City to learn about the impact of these devastating natural disasters in an age-appropriate way.
A visit to Quake City is a must to understand the seismic events that shook Christchurch and Canterbury 10 years ago. Hear from those who lived through the earthquakes and those who came to help. Learn about the science behind the quakes and with the help of a hands-on interactive understand the phenomenon of liquefaction.Quake City
These exhibitions are engaging and informative, whilst recognising the bravery shown by so many in a challenging time.
For this reason, it is a must-do whilst in the city.
17. Marvel at the Canterbury Museum
The Canterbury Museum hosts a range of exhibitions that are frequently updated.
Of most appeal to families though, will be the permanent Discovery centre!
Discovery is bursting with weird and wonderful things to explore. Dig for fossils, watch the live tarantulas, gaze at the wall of preserved specimens, look through the drawers of pinned insects and learn all about our amazing world and the creatures that share it.The Canterbury Museum
This exciting area of the Canterbury Museum is cheap as chips (free for under 3’s and only $2 per person for older children), making it a wonderful budget-friendly addition to any itinerary.
18. Hop On a Historic Tram – Kids Go Free!
If your family has tired feet from adventuring, why not hop on a historic tram ride around the city centre?
These beautifully restored heritage trams are one of the most popular attractions in Christchurch, and as kids travel free (up to three children for each adult, additional kids are only $5 each) it’s an affordable attraction for families too.
This all-day hop-on hop-off tours are a great way to see the city at your own pace, whilst knowledgable drivers treat your whānau to live commentary.
17 different stops are spread around town, with trams visiting every 15-25 minutes. Together your family can enjoy visiting many of the attractions we’ve already listed, including the Margaret Mahy Playground and Canterbury Museum. The Botanic Gardens, Cashel Street, Riverside Market and many other stops are also included on their route.
Book: Discounted tram tickets. Promo code NZTTPLAY to save 10%.
Book: A Christchurch Pass – Gondola, punt and tram tour. Promo code NZTTPLAY to save 10%.
19. Canoe, Kayak or Row the Avon River
The Avon River weaves its way through central Christchurch. With its tree-lined banks, it really is a beautiful part of the CBD.
Though it can be enjoyed on the banks, we recommend hiring a canoe, kayak or rowboat and taking to the water with your kids.
The river is perfectly flat with very little current so it’s an ideal place for youngsters to learn to paddle safely.
Paddling through the central city and the Botanic Gardens really is one of the best things to do in Christchurch with kids.
20. Punt the Avon River
A Christchurch classic, punting is another way whereby you can enjoy being on the Avon River.
Your family can sit back and relax whilst your guide expertly moves your Edwardian-style boat along the river.
With such stunning scenery all around and a professional punter taking control of the boat, this is a great way to show young children the city.
Our Punting tours are set aboard handcrafted flat-bottomed boats, poled along by your Punter from the platformed till at the rear end of the boatChristchurch Attractions
Book: A Christchurch Pass – Gondola, punt and tram tour. Promo code NZTTPLAY to save 10%.
Did you know? All standard punt rides are shared journeys lasting 30 minutes.
21. Take a Dip at Corsair Bay
Located near Lyttelton (which in itself is worth visiting), you’ll find Corsair Bay.
In the summertime, this is a wonderful spot to venture out to.
This sheltered bay is a great swimming spot that is suitable for children and young families.
You’ll find plenty of parking there, along with a playground, picnic tables and toilets.
If you want to stretch your legs, there are lovely coastal walking tracks to both neighbouring beaches – Cass Bay and Magazine Bay.
22. Race Around On a Jet Boat
Jet boats were invented in New Zealand so there really is no better country to ride in one.
When you combine this exciting ride (sometimes over just a few centimetres of water) with Canterbury’s stunning scenery, you have an unbeatable combo.
You’ll race around, pulling 360 degree turns, all whilst the kids are safely tucked into their seats – massive grins guaranteed.
23. Check Out Something Unique in Canterbury – AirBoating
In fact, this is the only place in the whole country where you can ride in an airboat as a commercial passenger.
Like the boats you’ll see in the Everglades in Florida, these boats zip along under the power of a massive fan. Amazingly, they need even less water to operate than jet boats, happily skimming over just wet stones.
As an added bonus, kids 2-4 ride for free and anyone younger than 16 is considered a child in terms of pricing.
Pro Tip: When riding an airboat or jet boat, we recommend warm clothes and sunglasses. In the wintertime, gloves are a great idea too.
24. Challenge the Kids to an Escape Room
Escape rooms can be a great way to entertain the troops on a rainy day.
These rooms are filled with puzzles, clues and challenges that need to be solved in order to escape. You’ll generally have an hour to do so, with access to someone who can help you on your way (if you get stuck).
Whatever challenge you choose, your family will be the only ones involved, so you can take your time in supporting and encouraging younger members of the family.
25. Take a Blokart for a Spin
Are you looking for a new experience for your family? Blokarting could be just the ticket!
Unique to New Zealand, these contraptions are like little sailboats on wheels. They have no carbon footprint (making them particularly eco-friendly) and thanks to strong winds in Canterbury, sail incredibly well there.
Thanks to friendly, well-trained staff, most people pick up blokarting within just a few minutes. They’ll size your sail appropriately based on the conditions and your size and confidence, ensuring a safe adventure for your whole family.
Children 8 and up can have a go at piloting their own blokarts, whilst younger children (or those who’d rather go along for the ride) can tandem with someone else.
Safe and exciting, these are heaps of fun!
26. Ride the Christchurch Gondola
Last, but far from least on our list is the Christchurch Gondola.
Offering stunning panoramic views of the city, Lyttelton Harbour and beyond, you’ll have a bird’s eye view of Canterbury from the top of the Port Hills. Enjoy the snow-capped Southern Alps, the expansive Canterbury Plains and views out to the Pacific Ocean.
Whilst at the top of the gondola, you’re free to check out a number of walking tracks, and to ride the Time Tunnel (which is included in your gondola ticket). There’s also a cafe and gift shop at the top.
With beautiful views of Christchurch, and the excitement of the ride up and back, this is a worthwhile addition to any family-friendly visit to the Garden City,
Book: Discounted tickets on the Christchurch Gondola. Promo code NZTTPLAY to save 10%.
Book: A Christchurch Pass – Gondola, punt and tram tour. Promo code NZTTPLAY to save 10%.
27. Pay a Visit to the Botanic Gardens
The Christchurch Botanic Gardens are another popular destination for families.
In the summer months, kids enjoy their large paddling pool – it’s a great way for little ones to cool off.
There is also a great playground there, along with a series of boardwalks through bush and gardens and lots of secret paths just waiting to explore.
Best of all, the Botanic Gardens are free to visit, making them a welcome budget-friendly addition to any local itinerary.
28. Enjoy the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū
Located not too far from the Botanic Gardens, the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū holds a number of family-friendly events and activities.
This beautiful art gallery hosts a number of frequently-updated exhibitions (many of which will appeal to children) and is another free activity in the city.
29. Enjoy a Good Book at Tūranga
At nearly 10,000 square metres, Tūranga is the largest public library in the South Island. It is also the flagship library for the Christchurch City Libraries network – and it certainly is impressive!
Free to the public, they host a range of awesome family-friendly events.
Swing by to enjoy storytime with your little one, or make use of their vast knowledge to get some book recommendations for your kids.
Whilst you’re there, be sure to check out the Imagination Station too…
30. Check Out the Imagination Station
Based in the library building (Tūranga), the Imagination Station is another great low-cost way to entertain the kids.
This independent charity requests a gold coin donation ($1 or $2) for kids to participate. In return, they’ll be able to go wild with a massive collection of LEGO, Technic and DUPLO.
In the school holidays, they also host a range of educational classes. Kids can learn LEGO Technic design, Mindstorms Robotics, Moviemaking with LEGO, as well as their ever-popular Holiday Brick School programme. Just be sure to book in advance to secure your child’s spot.
Combining education and creativity, the Imagination Station is a wonderful activity for kids of all ages.
And there you have it – a conclusive list of the very best things to do in Christchurch with kids.
Which activities will you try out with your family on your next visit to this incredible city?