Christchurch – 5 Free Things to Do in 2011
Last year, Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism brought you the Top 10 Free Things to do in Christchurch.
This year, it’s time to update the list with five new FREE favourites – and remind Christchurch visitors and locals alike, how many exciting ways there are to spend each weekend – on a shoestring budget.
1. Local Events
Christchurch is known for hosting some of the most exciting events in the country. We actually don’t know anywhere in the entire southern hemisphere that has the range of festivals and free performances on offer – year round and catering to all ages and interests.
In January we love World Buskers Festival and Brighton Beach Kite Day, in March the Chinese Lantern Festival is a favourite, and every March we head to Ray Blank Park for Culture Galore. Right throughout the summer months Christchurch City Council sponsors cycling, family and fine arts events. The only trick is to find a calendar to keep track of them all.
2. Farmers Markets
Our favourite way to spend a weekend is market-hopping – and there’s probably no better place in the world to start than Christchurch, New Zealand. The surrounding region of Canterbury has so many market choices, the freshest local produce and most appealing (and creative, and healthy) range of goods, from blackcurrant honey to kumara hummus and beetroot truffles.
3. Godley Head
Godley Head Scenic Reserve offers sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, Lyttelton Harbour and stunning Taylor’s Mistake beach, dotted with keen surfers and picnicking families on any Saturday in summertime. It’s a dramatic landscape of tussock-clad hills, dotted with historic sites, walkers, bikers and winding tracks like the aptly-named “Anaconda.”
4. Little River Rail Trail
If you’re inspired (and at this point picturing yourself on your bike), carry on toward Banks Peninsula and follow the historic Little River Rail Trail. It’s a cruisey and highly scenic route linking Motukarara to Little River following the edge of Lake Ellesmere, the largest lake in the Canterbury Plains.
5. The Avon River
While you save up for a special punting occasion (this is New Zealand's most romantic mode of transport, and fully booked every Valentine's Day!), take a walk along the river and enjoy the tranquility of willow trees and park views - equally rewarding on a crisp winter morning or balmy summer's night.
Christchurch – 10 Free Things to do
Admire the stately English trees, colourful themed flower beds in the Botanic Gardens and the tranquillity of the meandering Avon River. And just a hint – between the hours of 5-6pm this becomes a local’s exercise ground so watch out for speedy cyclists and runners.
2. Afternoon ice cream at Sumner Beach
It’s easy to spend an afternoon in the sunshine at Sumner Beach. Release your inner-child by climbing up Cave Rock and take a stroll down the Esplanade to enjoy your ice-cream. Want a more secluded spot? Taylors Mistake is a local favourite (just drive up Scarborough Hill and back down the other side!).
3. Join the crowds in Cathedral Square and climb up the Cathedral Bell Tower
For just a small fee you can see the best views of Cathedral Square and get your heart rate up by climbing the 63 metre high tower of the ChristChurch Cathedral.
4. Find the best view – walk and bike in the Port Hills
Join the locals as they take to the trails in the Port Hills. For your first time, why not try the Crater Rim Walkway which showcases the best views of Christchurch and the Southern Alps on one side and beautiful Banks Peninsula on the other – as a bonus, this walk takes you to sites of historic significance (with stunning panoramic views!)- the Sign of the Bellbird and the Sign of the Kiwi.
5. Share a controversial lunch with the Christchurch WizardCome on down to Cathedral Square and listen as he expounds some outrageous theories at Speaker’s Corner. When he’s not centre stage you’ll find a raft of Wizard-Wannabes attempting to fill his very big shoes! Wed-Sun you’ll also find a local market in the square – a great place to get your hands on bone carvings, possum fur hats or my favourite – caramel nuts!
6. Take a history lesson at the Canterbury Museum
Take time to learn a little more about New Zealand’s heritage. Highlights include exhibits on Antarctic exploration, life-size dioramas of Maori history and New Zealand bird life. The Museum is in the perfect spot to combine this with other Cultural Precinct activities – the Art Gallery and the Arts Centre.
7. Find a bargain at the Arts Centre’s Weekend Markets
Rain or shine at the Arts Centre you’ll find over 80 stalls every weekend offering wonderful local art, fashion, jewellery, fresh local produce and international food – my favourite taste sensation is a lamb kebab from Dimitri’s Souvlakis. Make a day of it by enjoying free entertainment in the Market or having a beer at The Dux (try a jug of Ginger Tom if you want to spice things up!).
8. Visit Christchurch’s new and impressive Art Gallery
The building itself is a must-see, and the wonderful collections inside are also worth a peek! Keep Waitangi Day (6 February) free in your diary, as the Art Gallery helps you commemorate this significant New Zealand occasion with special events.
9. Picnic beside the Avon River
If you’re still saving up for that punt on the Avon River then why not fish the river in the meantime? Both the Avon and Heathcote Rivers are open to fishing year round – but please note there is a no-fishing zone on the Avon between Armagh Street and Barbadoes Street Bridges. Anglers fishing for sports fish need to have a current sports fishing licence.
10. Explore the charming network of urban lanewaysOnce home to Christchurch’s early warehouses and factories, Christchurch’s central city lanes are becoming a thriving precinct packed with bars, eateries and an eclectic mix of boutique shops. Gems like SOL Square have become local favourites! When you’re in Cathedral Square, pick up a brochure from the Christchurch i-SITE which will tell you the best way to find your way around this labyrinth of urban laneways.
11. Riccarton House and Bush (couldn’t help having a #11)
Hidden in the suburb of Riccarton is the stunning hide-away of Riccarton House and Bush. As you enter the bush, you’ll forget you’re in a city as the towering kahikatea trees shelter you inside the original forest that covered the Canterbury region.