Things to Do in Christchurch
Somehow, there are more things to do in Christchurch today than there were before the quake. Classic sites and activities remain, like Hagley Park, the Canterbury Museum, Orana Park, and the Antarctic Centre. They are joined by new, post-earthquake places to visit in Christchurch like the Transitional Cathedral, Quake City museum, a shipping container shopping mall, and other signs that this is a city that will not be defeated.
Christchurch Art Gallery
The structurally safe and aesthetically impressive architecture of the Christchurch Art Gallery drew me to this modern museum. The ever-changing exhibits include works by Henri Matisse, other international artists, and several Kiwi artists.
The Arts Centre is the largest collection of category 1 heritage buildings in New Zealand. Over half of this former university has been reopened to the public after extensive earthquake restorations. We didn't attend a performance, but we did enjoy the Gothic Revival architecture and the stained glass windows.
Air Force Museum
Another of the free things to do in Christchurch, the Air Force museum has 20 historic aircraft, interactive exhibits, a flight simulator (charges apply), personal stories, and New Zealand air force history. We didn't visit.
As construction continues rebuilding Christchurch after the earthquake, artists have taken to the streets to redesign this city one colourful wall at a time. Everywhere you turn there is vivid, compelling, political, or fun art.
Bridge of Remembrance
The Bridge of Remembrance crosses the Avon River. It is a dedication to New Zealanders who gave their lives in World War I. It now also serves as a memorial for those who participated in other wars (and conflicts) including World Wars II, Borneo, Korea, Malaya, and Vietnam.
Stroll through the 165 acres of native and exotic plants in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and feel your stress and worry melt away. Walk along the shores of the Avon River, and forget you are in New Zealand's third largest city.
Antigua Boat Shed
Built in 1882, the Antigua Boat Sheds have always been used for commercial boat hire. Start here for punting down the Avon or to hire kayaks, canoes, rowboats, or paddleboats. Or, just stop by to see New Zealand's only surviving 19th-century purpose-built boat sheds.
Punting on the Avon
A Christchurch tradition and a lot of fun, we listened to historical stories told by our Edwardian dressed punter as he guided us down a section of the Avon river.
International Antarctic Centre
Christchurch is one of the world's staging destinations for Antarctic scientific expeditions, so it's fitting that the International Antarctic Centre is here. Built to be fun and educational, the Antarctic Centre tempts the senses. Antarctica's history is fascinating, yet I found myself more intrigued by the modern day technology.Penguin feeding time (10.30 and 3.30 daily) is a hit with all ages. Our other highlights included a sub-zero Antarctic storm, a ride in the Hägglund (all-terrain amphibious Antarctic vehicle), and a 4D movie with wind and occasional sea spray. We skipped the room dedicated to smaller children's fun and learning.
A 10-minute gondola ride took us to the top of Mt. Cavendish where we were greeted with stunning views of the city and Lyttleton Harbour. At the top, there is a time tunnel ride, a shop, a cafe, and hiking trails. Optionally, one could reach the top by taking a 3-hour return hike along the Bridle Path.
Crater Rim Hiking
Like many of the hills in New Zealand, Mt. Cavendish is an extinct volcano. We took the gondola up to the top before walking the crater rim trail.