Visiting Christchurch in spring

Located on the east coast of the South Island, in the Canterbury region, you’ll find Christchurch. Since the city is close to lots of popular tourist destinations, it is the starting or end point for a lot of  South Island & nationwide tours offered by We Tour New Zealand.  The abundance of attractions and things to do makes Christchurch a great place to spend a couple of days before or after your tour.

Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island.  A population of around 400,000 people making it home to about an eighth of Kiwis and the only major city in Aotearoa’s south. Between the years of 2010 and 2012 some major earthquakes took place, but in the 10 years that have passed, the city has grown again into a vibrant place for people all over the world, all year long.

Why Spring is a Great Time to be in Ōtautahi Christchurch?

Why visit Christchurch in spring? With the cold of the winter over, spring is a great time to be in Christchurch. The average temperature is between 5 and 19 degrees,  so walking between the many central city attractions is comfortable. But the most beautiful thing about spring in Christchurch is that “The Garden City” is bursting into spring blossom in the Botanic Gardens and the numerous city parks are full of life. Hagley Park, for example, in the heart of the city, is full of sporty people, dog owners, cyclists and just people walking around enjoying the natural beauty that the park provides.

Another reason to visit Christchurch in spring is the simple fact it is not the high season. So, all in all, the weather is better and there are fewer other tourists. But even if it is not sunny all day, there are still plenty of options, like the Canterbury Museum or the Christchurch Art Gallery.

We’ve put together a list of our favourite things to do when in Christchurch in spring.

Blossom trees in Hagley Park

Botanic gardens

In spring many plants come alive after the less colourful period in winter. Enjoy a walk in the botanic gardens and have a look at the magnolias, roses, azaleas and other different plants that can be found. Go to the visitor centre to learn more about the history of plants in Canterbury through an exhibition and end your time in the gardens with a drink at Ilex café. You can combine your visit with some time in Hagley Park where you can be active or relax depending on your own preferences.

Riverside market

This farmers market was built after the earthquake in 2011 and is open 7 days a week. Everything is locally produced, and the shops vary from boutiques to little restaurants and there is even an outdoor terrace, so take your Mexican, Asian or German meal with you and enjoy the atmosphere outside with a view of the Avon River and the people passing by.

Punting on the Avon River

This tour offers another possibility to see more of the city from a different perspective. In 30 minutes with a regular tour and 45 minutes with a private tour, you will see the city centre and the botanic gardens from another point of view as you glide down the Avon River. The guide can tell you all about the history of Christchurch and in the meantime, you can sit down, relax and enjoy the ride in Edwardian style.

Christchurch tram

With a ticket for the Christchurch Tram, you can travel around the city centre and learn about interesting facts and events at the same time. Some highlights of the route are the arts centre, the Canterbury Museum and the SALT district. It is a hop-on hop-off ticket and although the full circuit is 50 minutes, you can take as much time as you want to explore at all the different stops since the ticket is valid for the whole day.

Street art

Street art penguins

Many artists wanted to full the city with colour and positivity after the earthquakes. Today you can find street art on almost every corner. There is a lot of variety.  Close to the Christchurch Cathedral, on Cathedral Square you can find the biggest mural of the city. The mural is connected to the Antarctic Centre, penguins live on the ice and in the water and because of the blue colour, this mural really stands out. This is just one out of many, so you can easily spend the whole day or afternoon exploring the city and taking in the street art. (Use the ‘Watch this space’ website as a guide to where all the different art works can be found.)

Canterbury museum and quake city

You will find the Canterbury museum close to the Botanic Gardens and the city centre. Visit the museum to learn all about the region’s history, how the region was shaped and what its future might look like. One of the many exhibitions is Quake City. This earthquake-focussed exhibition is only 10 minutes’ walk from the city. It will give you an insight into what it was like to experience the city’s recent earthquakes and what has happened since. This is the perfect activity on a rainy spring day.

TranzAlpine train

This adventure will take you all the way from Christchurch to Greymouth on the South Island’s rugged West Coast, or the other way around. While you are on the road you can watch the extraordinary scenery passing by in your seat or at the open-air viewing decks. The Tranzalpine Rail Journey is also seen as one of the most beautiful rail journeys of the world. It takes almost 5 hours to reach the other side of the South Island with stops in Springfield, Arthur’s pass and Moana (Lake Brunner).

International Antarctic centre

Do you want to experience and learn about what it is like to be in Antarctica? Then the International Antarctic Centre is the place for you. By making it interactive, every person, of all ages, can have a great time in here. Go to the 4D theatre. Visit the penguin rescue room and see them having dinner or walk through a real Antarctic storm in -8 degrees and a wind of -18 degrees. Different passes are available, so with each pass you can join different attractions or sights within the centre. It is recommended to book beforehand.

On top of the Port Hills

Gondola and Port Hills

See the city from another point of view. The gondola takes you to the top of the Port Hills. At the top you can enjoy the 360-degree views from the city on one side, and across the Canterbury Plains to the Southern alps on the other side.

The gondola’s suitable for all ages. At the summit you can have a snack at the Red Rock Café, get yourself a nice souvenir from the giftshop or go on an adventure on one of the walking tracks.

If you do want to go to the Port Hills, but  the taking the gondola doesn’t appeal? You can walk up the hill as well. Going up when the sun is about to set will give you an experience you will never forget. However, this is only possible when you are able to walk down instead of taking the last gondola.

Taylors mistake

Taylor’s mistake beach

Get yourself fish and chips in Sumner and continue on the road to Taylors Mistake. At this small beach you can take a dip in the ocean, relax on the beach or go on a hike by the coastline. If you are lucky, you can even get fresh ice cream at the playground next to the beach. When the temperature increases, locals, surfers and vacationers all come together at this place. In spring small crowds mean lots of car parking and easy access to public toilets and change rooms.

What are you waiting for?

The things to do mentioned above can be visited in all seasons. However, the transition between winter and spring ensures changes in nature and atmosphere. Naturally, there are more things to do in Christchurch, other than what we’ve mentioned. Other attractions and sights can also be seen on Christchurch’s own website,  Tourism New Zealand, Air New Zealand and lastly TripAdvisor.

Excited about the prospect of visiting Christchurch in spring? Got questions regarding the sights and attractions? Want advice for a future tour that has a stop in Christchurch? Please contact us. We would be more than happy to provide you with the information you need!