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Destination guides > Pacific Islands > New Zealand > Canterbury > Christchurch > Sights & activities


Sights & activities

Sightseeing, museums & tourist attractions

Air Force Museum

Plane spotters will love this aviation museum that features 28 classic aircraft on display plus hands-on exhibits and displays of New Zealand Air Force history.

Wigram Air Base, 45 Harvard Avenue, Sockburn
Bus 5, 81
Tel (03) 343 9532
Website www.airforcemuseum.co.nz
Admission $15
Open 10am-5pm daily

Antarctic Centre

This tourist attraction near the airport is worth considering if you’re interested in Antarctica, but it’s no substitute for the real thing. It features a simulated Antarctic environment and you can even ride in a Hägglund Antarctic vehicle.

38 Orchard Road, Christchurch International Airport
Bus Penguin Express (free shuttle departs hourly from 9am from Cathedral Square), 29 (airport bus)
Tel (03) 736 4846 or 0508 PENGUIN
Website www.iceberg.co.nz
Admission $55 including Hägglund ride
Open Jan-Apr 9am-7pm daily; May-Sep 9am-5.30pm daily; Oct-Dec 9am-7pm daily

Arts Centre & Rutherford’s Den

This complex of Gothic Revival buildings was originally the University of Canterbury. The Arts Centre is now a vibrant arts venue with cinemas, theatre and galleries plus shops, bars, cafés and a bustling weekend market.

Ernest Rutherford studied here when it was a university and his den has been made into a multimedia exhibit showcasing the scientist’s life and achievements.
Worcester Boulevard, Christchurch
Tel (03) 363 2836
Website www.artscentre.org.nz & www.rutherfordsden.org.nz
Admission free
Open 9.30am-5pm daily; guided tours 10am-3.30pm daily; Rutherford’s Den 10am-5pm daily

Canterbury Museum

This excellent museum is noted for its exhibitions on Antarctic exploration, Māori culture and natural history.

Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch
Bus 15, 17, 29 Tram
Tel (03) 366 5000
Website www.cantmus.govt.nz
Admission free; Discovery exhibit $2
Open Jan-Mar 9am-5.30pm daily; Apr-Sep 9am-5pm daily; Oct-Dec 9am-5.30pm daily

Christchurch Art Gallery

The city’s impressive new art museum features permanent collections plus a programme of visiting exhibits.

Corner Worcester Boulevard & Montreal Street, Christchurch
Bus 15, 17, 29 T
Tel (03) 941 7300
Website www.christchurchartgallery.org.nz
Admission free
Open Mon-Tue 10am-5pm, Wed 10am-9pm, Thu-Sun 10am-5pm

Christ Church Cathedral

Although it is nothing special by European standards, the locals are very proud of their cathedral, which has been around almost as long as Christchurch. Visitors can climb the tower or take a tour of the cathedral.

Cathedral Square, Christchurch
Bus 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 29, 46, 60, 77, 90, 92, Shuttle Tram
Tel (03) 366 0046
Website www.christchurchcathedral.co.nz
Admission free
Open Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 7.30am-5pm; tours Mon-Fri 11am & 2pm, Sat 11am, Sun 11.30am

Christchurch Gondola

This gondola ride in Christchurch’s southern suburbs offers excellent views of the city centre and surrounding areas including Lyttelton Harbour, the Canterbury Plains, and the Southern Alps.

10 Bridle Path Road, Ferrymead
Bus 28
Tel (03) 384 0700
Website www.gondola.co.nz
Admission $22; combined gondola & tram ticket $30
Open 10am-late daily

Orana Wildlife Park

This wildlife park is home to a large variety of animals from around the globe with the focus on African animals such as cheetahs, giraffes, lions, monkeys and meerkats. Native animals include birds such as the kaka, kea and kiwi and reptiles like the tuatara.

McLeans Island Road, Papanui

Tel (03) 359 7109
Website www.oranawildlifepark.co.nz
Admission $21
Open 10am-5pm daily (last entry 4.30pm)

Southern Encounter Aquarium & Kiwi House

This small aquarium and kiwi house is centrally located right on Cathedral Square. It is home to a variety of local marine life and there is also an enclosure where you can see New Zealand’s rare national bird – the kiwi.

Cathedral Square, Christchurch
Bus 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 29, 46, 60, 77, 90, 92, Shuttle Tram
Tel (03) 359 0581
Website www.southernencounter.co.nz
Admission $15
Open 9am- 4.30pm daily

Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

This wildlife park focuses on native bird life and it is best known for its excellent nocturnal kiwi tours. Unlike other kiwi houses that have glassed-in enclosures that recreate an artificial nocturnal environment, only Willowbank is open at night for a more natural look at this unique and rare bird.

Hussey Road, Styx
Tel (03) 359 6226
Website www.willowbank.co.nz
Admission $25 ($20 students)
Open 10am-10pm daily; guided tours 11.30am, 2.30pm, 7.30pm, 8.30pm, 9.30pm daily



Hot air ballooning over the Canterbury Plains is a popular activity that offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, although ballooning is said to be better in Methven. Aoraki Balloon Safaris (tel (03) 302 8172 or 0800 CLOUD 7) and Up Up and Away (tel (03) 381 4600). Ballooning trips cost between $285 and $310.

Jet Boating

Jet Thrills (tel (03) 385 1478) and Wamak Alpine Jet (tel (03) 318 4881) offer jet boat rides on the Waimakariri River. Jet Thrills operates from a site only 15 minutes from the city centre and is the cheaper of the two, costing $70-95. Waimak Alpine Jet cost a little more ($75-105), but they operate in the stunning Waimakariri Canyon.

Punting on the Avon

Christchurch is no substitute for Cambridge, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t try. Punting on the Avon is one of the more pleasant ways to see the city from the river.

2 Cambridge Terrace, Christchurch
Tel (03) 366 0337
Website www.punting.co.nz
Admission $20
Open Jan-Apr 9am-6pm daily; May-Sep 10am-4pm daily; Oct-Dec 9am-6pm daily


The New Zealand Skydiving School offer tandem skydives as well as other skydiving options including a nine-stage accelerated freefall training programme.

Wigram Aerodrome
Tel (03) 343 5542
Website www.skydiving.co.nz
9000ft tandem jump $265; 12000ft tandem jump $299

Wildlife Cruises

You can see Hector’s dolphins and a variety of bird life from the wildlife spotting cruises that operate on Lyttelton Harbour.

17 Norwich Quay, Lyttelton
Bus 28
Tel (03) 328 9078 or 0800 436 574
Website www.blackcat.co.nz
Price $52
Departs Jan-Apr 2.30pm daily; May-Aug 1.30pm daily; Sep-Dec 2.30pm daily


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