Introducing guest blogger Jen from Backyard Travel Family
Christchurch is the South Island of New Zealand’s largest city and the gateway to the beautiful Mainland. One of the best things about Christchurch is its active nature and diverse landscapes. You can swim at the beach, but be’at the mountains in just 90 minutes.
Today we are going to share with you, our top locations for families sharing an active holiday in Christchurch, New Zealand.
This post is part of our Explore My City series – come and visit cities around the world through the eyes of local parents
A locals weekend in Christchurch – Day One
Brunching with atmosphere
The Riccarton Farmers Market is one of our favourite places to brunch and pick up tasty supplies for the weekend. Located in the gardens at Riccarton House, every Saturday morning, you will find local food growers, orchardists, home bakers and boutique food stalls ready for you to taste their delicacies. If you are here in the summer, the summer fruits here are the tastiest you will find.
Our top brunch tip: The Bacon Brothers have the most mouthwatering offerings, but there is often a line. So head here first to order, then peruse the other stalls while you are waiting. The live music and streamside location will be a joyous way to start your day.
Once you have finished your tasty treats, don’t forget to check out Deans Cottage, the oldest house on the Canterbury Plains, built in 1843. Behind this cottage is Riccarton Bush, just a 10-minute stroll, but this small reserve holds the last of the beautiful 600-year-old Kahikatea trees that used to cover the land.
Riccarton House, 16 Kahu Road, Riccarton. Parking is on the side of the road during market hours.
Grab a bike
Two amazing places to bike in Christchurch are Bottle Lake Forest and the Christchurch Adventure Park. For those with older kids who love some downhill adventure, head to the Christchurch Adventure Park. Here you can take a chair lift with your bike to the top and speed your way to the bottom.
For little ones, there is a pump track at the bottom of the downhill for your little speed demons. If you are looking for a less adrenaline-pumping ride, head to Bottle Lake Forest. There are tons of bike trails here, a lot of them flat, as well as a huge pump track suitable for all kids. Bottle Lake Forest is close to the beach, so head here for a cool off after your ride.
- Bottle Lake Forest, Waitikiri Drive, Bottle Lake – free parking onsite
- Christchurch Adventure Park, 225 Worsleys Road, Cracroft
Looking at flights to New Zealand? Jen has also reviewed for us the Air New Zealand Skycouch!
Hit the City
Christchurch was rocked by a devastating earthquake in 2011, so when you head to the CBD, you will notice much of the regeneration of our city is still happening. But this doesn’t mean it’s not a great place to visit. Creative Christchurch residents came up with all sorts of ways to engage the community in the wake of disaster, including the “round the city” mini-golf, art installations and sound gardens. Kids will love exploring these unique features and my young ones, particularly love the cranes and construction.
Once you have ticked off the traditional tourist activities such as the Canterbury Museum (free), the Christchurch Cathedral ruins, and a ride on the tram, head to the Christchurch City Library for some downtime.
Now you may be thinking, why would I take my kids to a library on holiday, but hidden on the kids’ floor of the library is the Imagination Station. The Imagination Station is a huge lego play space which is totally free to use and is a great place for kids to sit and rest their feet.
An absolute must-do for kids is to head to Christchurch’s largest playground, the Margaret Mahy Playground. Walking district from Cathedral Square and the Library, head here to burn off any excess energy. This large playground has many modern activities, as well as a splash pad and large sandpit. So bring your swimsuit for a free place to cool off. An added bonus, there’s always a coffee cart and fresh fruit ice cream on site.
- Imagination Station, Christchurch City Library, 728 Colombo Street, Cathedral Square
- Margaret Mahy Playground, Armagh Street, Christchurch City
Looking to tour more of the south island? Explore a 10-day New Zealand South Island Itinerary
A locals weekend in Christchurch – Day two
Take a Walk
One of the key features of Christchurch are the beautiful Port Hills which overlook the city. Two great tracks with epic views are the Godley Head Track and the Rapaki Track. The Rapaki Track is just 20 minutes from the CBD and this 2-hour return walk will showcase the beautiful Banks Peninsula on one side and sweeping views of the city and coastline on the other.
If you are looking for a walk, a little more off the beaten track, head past Christchurch’s favourite beach, Sumner, and over the hill to Taylors Mistake. This famous surf beach is the starting point for the Godley Head Track. This 3-4 hour walk along the eastern coastline has some of the most breathtaking views, along with some interesting historical ruins, such as the gun emplacements from WWII and an old Antarctic Cabin. For more information on how to get here and what else you can find on this walk, click the links above.
- Godley Head Track, end of Taylors Mistake Road, Sumner
- Rapaki Track, end of Rapaki Road, Port Hills
Head Indoors in Christchurch
If it’s becoming too hot, or the weather isn’t complying, check out some indoor activities. The Air Force Museum of New Zealand will be a hit with the kids. While there is a lot of interesting historical information for older kids and adults, young kids will just love the aircraft hangar. Dozens of real-life planes are housed here and there are a couple of fighter cockpits to jump into. We love that this is a free option for families and there is a great cafe on site.
Air Force Museum of New Zealand, 45 Harvard Ave, Wigram
If animals and snow are more your thing, head to the International Antarctic Centre by the airport to test out the snow room, cuddle with huskies and jump on the Hagglund Ride to try out a real Antarctic vehicle.
International Antarctic Centre, 38 Orchard Road, Christchurch Airport.
We know that you will love your weekend in Christchurch, but make sure you stick around to discover more of the Canterbury region. For more fun things to do with kids in Christchurch and New Zealand, check out Backyard Travel Family: Specialists in Active Family Travel in New Zealand.
About the Blogger
Jen from Backyard Travel Family is a local kiwi girl who loves to share practical advice on all the best New Zealand spots. Her New Zealand website concentrates on ensuring parents have all the necessary information to make decisions on where to travel, such as the facilities, what food options are close by, whether they walk or bike is suitable for young children etc. Her guides are essential for any parent planning a kiwi vacation.
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