Christchurch is the largest city on New Zealand’s South Island and the third largest in the entire country.

It is known for its English heritage, natural beauty, and many family-friendly attractions.

There are plenty of sites to see within the city itself, as well as wonderful experiences to be had in the areas surrounding Christchurch.

From taking a tram tour of the city centre to having a picnic on the Banks Peninsula, check out this list of 18 fun things to do in Christchurch for families.

Table of Contents

1. Christchurch Grand Tour

Get the grand tour of Christchurch on this tour of the city’s must-see attractions.

If you’re only in Christchurch for a short time, this is the tour for you.

This half day excursion will have you exploring four of the city’s top attractions using multiple modes of transportation.

First, you’ll be transported to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

Next, you’ll go punting on the Avon River.

From there, you’ll enjoy a ride on the Christchurch Gondola that features panoramic views of the city.

Finally, your day will end with a trip on the historic hop on hop off Christchurch Tram.

Tour details

  • Duration: 5 hours
  • Departure Time: 10:00 am
  • Departure Point: Canterbury Museum
  • Inclusions: Driver/guide, entry fees, hotel pick up, gondola ride, Avon River punt ride, Botanic Gardens caterpillar tour

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2. Scenic Helicopter Tour

Soar to new heights on this Christchurch helicopter tour.

It is only with this bird’s eye view that you can appreciate the city down below.

This 20-minute helicopter tour will allow you to gain a unique perspective on the city of Christchurch, including the devastation caused by the earthquake in 2010.

You will board the helicopter at the Christchurch Airport, and fly above the city centre.

You’ll be able to see what’s left of the Christchurch Cathedral and also how the city has started to rebuild following the earthquake.

Finally, you and your family will be treated to views of the Banks Peninsula and the neighbourhoods of Sumner and Redcliffs.

Tour details

  • Duration: 20 minutes
  • Departure Point: 73 Grays Rd, Yaldhurst, Christchurch
  • Inclusions: Live commentary

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3. Sightseeing Tour by Classic Double-Decker Bus

As one of the most English parts of New Zealand, it’s only fitting that the city is home to its own fleet of red double decker buses.

Travel in London-style throughout Christchurch and take in the sites!

These double decker buses have an open roof, which is great for the summertime.

There are multiple routes to choose from, ensuring you and your family can see all the city has to offer.

Depending on the route you take, you can expect to pass by the Canterbury Museum, Cardboard Cathedral, Christchurch Catholic Basilica, Margaret Mahy Playground, Sumner Village, and much more.

All tours depart from the Canterbury Museum.

Tour details

  • Duration: 24-48 hours
  • Departure Point: Canterbury Museum
  • Inclusions: Live commentary, driver/guide, hop on hop off service

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4. Christchurch Hop-On Hop-Off Tram

While in Christchurch, be sure to hop on the Christchurch Tram!

This historic tram ride is one of the best activities in the city for families.

It makes it easy to get an overview of the city and see many of the top attractions.

Each tram ride includes 17 stops, such as Cathedral Junction, the Avon River, Re:START Mall, Gothic-style Arts Centre, the Canterbury Museum, and New Regent Street.

Trams run every 15 minutes and are fully narrated.

Get a feel for Christchurch on this fun and informative tour!

Tour details

  • Duration: 1 day
  • Inclusions: Live commentary, driver/guide, local taxes, entry fees

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5. Punting on the Avon River

As soon as you lay eyes on the Avon River, you’ll feel like you’re in Oxford.

The Avon River is yet another example of Christchurch’s rich English heritage.

Punting on the Avon River is one of the must-do attractions in Christchurch, especially for families.

There’s nothing more scenic than a leisurely boat ride on a warm summer’s day.

This river punting tour includes an expert punter who will share their knowledge of the city.

Marvel at the city streets and botanic gardens as you meander your way down this famous waterway.

Tour details

  • Duration: 30 minutes
  • Departure Time: 9:00 am
  • Departure Point: Punting On The Avon, 2 Cambridge Terrace, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch
  • Inclusions: Guaranteed to skip the lines, 30-minute punt ride

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6. Christchurch Gondola

Whatever you do, don’t forget to take a ride on the Christchurch Gondola while exploring the city.

This is the easiest, most scenic way to experience the city’s natural beauty.

This gondola ride will have you flying up to the Port Hills crater rim in an updated cable car.

Once at the summit, you’ll be treated to sweeping views of the city of Christchurch and its surrounding areas, including Canterbury Plains.

In addition to incredible views, the summit has a newly opened cafe, as well as a Time Tunnel that provides a history lesson for visitors.

Sit back, relax, and spend some time at the top, taking in the gorgeous scenery.

Tour details

  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Departure Times: 9:00 am or 10:00 am
  • Departure Point: Christchurch Gondola, 10 Bridle Path Road, Christchurch
  • Inclusions: Entry fees

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7. Waimakariri River Gorge Jet Boat Ride

If it’s a thrilling family adventure you’re after, look no further than this jet boat tour.

Jet boating on the Waimakariri Gorge is one of the most scenic excursions in the entire country.

This gorge is set on the foothills of the Southern Alps, and is surrounded by snow-capped mountains.

This tour will first pick you up at your Christchurch hotel and transport you to the Waimak Gorge via the picturesque Canterbury Plains.

Upon arrival, you and your family will put on your life jackets and board a state of the art jet boat.

From there, you’ll whizz around the shallow river flats of the incredible gorge.

Tour details

  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Inclusions: Jet boat ride, driver/guide, life jacket rental, hotel pick up and drop off

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8. Botanic Gardens Tour

The Christchurch Botanic Gardens are perfect for a fun afternoon with the family.

All tours include admission fees to the gardens, as well as a ride on the eco-friendly caterpillar vehicle.

On board, you’ll tour the 52-acre gardens and listen to commentary from your guide.

You’ll have the option to get off at any point during the ride, if there are certain areas you want to take a closer look at.

For example, the gardens are home to a tropical greenhouse, two rose gardens with over 250 varieties of roses, and an herb garden.

The gardens also have a cafe, gift shop, and interactive museum exhibit about plants on site.

Tour details

  • Duration: 9 hours
  • Departure Point: i-Site Visitor Centre
  • Inclusions: Botanic Gardens caterpillar tour, entry fees

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9. Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

Many people may not know that unlike its Australian neighbour, New Zealand has very few animals, aside from birds, sheep, whales, and opossums.

That is why Christchurch’s Willowbank Reserve is so spectacular.

It allows locals and visitors alike to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most incredible animals.

A great activity for families, the Willowbank Reserve has over 50 different species of wildlife.

In addition to New Zealand birds, you and your family will be able to see capybaras, capuchins, iguanas, emus, lemurs, and wallabies.

There’s even a guaranteed kiwi bird viewing at 4:30 pm each day.

Tour details

  • Duration: 1-5 hours
  • Departure Point: Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
  • Inclusions: Entry fees, 45-minute guided tour

Book Tour Official Site

10. Willowbank Dinner and Maori Concert

Experience native New Zealand wildlife and Maori culture all in one evening.

This comprehensive tour combines two of the area’s top attractions.

It is a fun and educational tour perfectly suited to families.

Tours begin with a guided tour of the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, where you can see native New Zealand animals like the kiwi bird, as well as exotic zoo animals from other parts of the world.

Next, you’ll get to experience an authentic evening of Maori culture that includes a greeting ceremony, a concert, and a 4-course hangi dinner, served buffet-style.

To top it off, upon your return to Christchurch, you’ll be treated to a guided tour of the city at night.

Tour details

  • Duration: 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Departure Time: 4:00 pm
  • Inclusions: Local guide, buffet dinner, all taxes and fees, Maori concert, Willowbank reserve nature tour, air-conditioned vehicle

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11. Tramway Restaurant Dinner Tour

The Tramway Restaurant is by far the most unique dining experience in all of Christchurch.

You will travel through the city in a historic tram, while being served a delicious meal.

The 2.5 hour ride is perfect for families and includes a 4-course dinner for each member.

Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted with a welcome drink.

You’ll also be offered tea and coffee throughout the ride.

Take in the sites of the city, ride in a historic tram car, and enjoy a gourmet meal all in one!

Tour details

  • Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Departure Point: Cathedral Junction, 109 Worcester St, Christchurch Central, Christchurch
  • Departure Times: 7:00 pm or 7:30 pm
  • Inclusions: Welcome drink, coffee or tea, tour by air-conditioned tram, 4-course dinner

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12. Walking Tour & Picnic on Banks Peninsula

Are you a family that loves getting out and enjoying nature?

Then this hiking and picnic tour of the Banks Peninsula is for you!

The Banks Peninsula is one of the most stunning areas of Christchurch.

On this day-long walking tour, you’ll get to experience this bit of stunning New Zealand coastline with the help of a local guide.

Your tour will begin with a guided drive through the city.

You’ll then reach a cafe, stop for a warm drink, and begin your walk to the Crater Rim.

From the top, take in the impressive views of the Pacific Ocean, Pegasus Bay, the Southern Alps, and Lyttelton Harbour.

A picnic lunch will be served along the way.

Tour details

  • Duration: 6 hours
  • Inclusions: Hotel pick up and drop off, lunch, bottled water, coffee or tea, snacks, national park fees, transport by air-conditioned vehicle, local guide, backpack and walking poles

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13. Kaikoura Whale & Dolphin Encounter

If it’s some native New Zealand wildlife you’re after, then consider this whale and dolphin watching tour in nearby Kaikoura.

The small yet charming town of Kaikoura is roughly 2.5 hours from Christchurch and will show you a different side of New Zealand.

From the shores of Kaikoura, embark on a whale or dolphin watching tour, where you’ll get closer than ever before to some truly impressive creatures.

Sperm whales, dolphins, fur seals, and seabirds live in these waters, so you can expect to see them all!

From your boat, you’ll also be treated to stunning views of the Kaikoura Ranges.

To finish off your tour, you’ll be taken to a vineyard in North Canterbury.

Tour details

  • Duration: 11 hours
  • Departure Time: 8:00 am
  • Inclusions: Hotel pick up and drop off, live commentary, air-conditioned vehicle, vineyard visit with wine tasting, fur seal colony viewing, whale watching

Whales Dolphins Official Site

14. Journey to ‘Edoras’

Are you a family of Lord of the Rings fans?

Then you’ll fall in love with this “Journey to Edoras” tour!

This 9-hour adventure will transport you from Christchurch to Mount Sunday, known to fans of the series as Edoras, the capital of the Rohan people.

After driving over rocky terrain and through narrow streams, you’ll eventually reach Edoras.

Once there, your guide will take you on a tour of the area.

You’ll even get to stand on the summit like Eowyn did, and see alpine lakes, mountain peaks, and farmland below.

Following a picnic lunch, you and your family will get to hold and pose with replica props from the film, including Aragorn’s sword and Gimli’s axe.

Tour details

  • Duration: 9 hours
  • Departure Time: 9:00 am
  • Inclusions: Hotel pick up and drop off, live commentary, picnic lunch, driver/guide

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15. Adrenalin Forest Obstacle Course

Get active and enjoy nature at the Adrenalin Forest Obstacle Course.

A wonderful activity for families, this obstacle course will have you navigating New Zealand’s treetops for three hours.

With your safety harness firmly in place, you’ll face all kinds of thrilling challenges at more than 30 metres in the air.

Obstacles include crossed logs, the wrecking ball, the flying fox, and the Tarzan jump.

There are six levels in total, each tougher than the last.

You’ll even have the option to hire a Go-Pro on site if you want to capture all of the action.

Tour details

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Departure Point: 105 Heyders Rd, Brooklands, Christchurch
  • Inclusions: Safety briefing and equipment

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16. International Antarctic Center

Ever wanted to visit Antarctica?

Then you’ve come to the right place!

Christchurch’s International Antarctic Center is one of the most fun and interactive attractions in the city.

Suitable for all ages, visitors will get to immerse themselves in the world of Antarctica, complete with ice and snow.

You’ll get to experience what it feels like to survive an Antarctic storm and even hang out with penguins.

There’s also a 4D cruise simulation and a Happy Feet in 4D experience.

Tour details

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Inclusions: Entry fees, Penguin Express shuttle service

Book Tickets Official Site

17. Riccarton House

Christchurch is known for its rich history.

Its British heritage is one reason that so many tourists flock to this South Island city.

A guided heritage walk is the only way to truly find out all there is to know about the history of the city you see before you.

This 1 hour tour takes you and your family through Riccarton House, the home of the pioneering Deans family from Scotland.

A guide will take you through 20 rooms at Riccarton House, teaching you about the family’s history in Scotland and in Christchurch.

You’ll be treated to real-life history, with rooms including a Victorian dining room, nursery, and coal cellar, as well as Edwardian bedrooms.

Tour details

  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Departure Times: 11:00 am or 2:00 pm
  • Departure Point: 16 Kahu Rd, Fendalton, Christchurch
  • Inclusions: Entry fees

Book Tour Official Site

18. Sheep Farm Visit

It’s almost impossible not to see sheep while visiting New Zealand.

But this tour lets you get up close and personal with these lovable farm animals.

A sheep farm visit is fun for the whole family!

This working sheep farm outside Christchurch offers incredible views of the Canterbury region.

The tour also includes a shearing demonstration and a viewing of how sheep dogs work.

Tea is provided on all tours.

Tour details

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Inclusions: Hotel pick up and drop off, sheep farm tour with tea

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We hope this list has inspired your upcoming trip to Christchurch.

Between exploring Canterbury’s natural beauty, learning about the city’s British heritage, and getting to experience wildlife up close, there are so many activities for families to partake in while visiting Christchurch.

Find more Things to do in Christchurch for Families

For all new cities, I go overboard on my itinerary, just to see every major attraction. Countries I've visited include New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Cambodia, Japan and Thailand. Mostly Asian countries. Next target - Europe!