Introducing Christchurch For Kids
Christchurch is the largest city on the South Island of New Zealand, with a lot to offer, especially for kids. No matter how you plan your trip to New Zealand, Christchurch is a great place to start, end, or even visit by itself. But even I was apprehensive about our most recent visit.
It is important to acknowledge the city itself is rebuilding from two major earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. From abandoned buildings to empty parking lots where buildings once stood tall, orange traffic cones, and temporary walled fences around iconic structures. The whole city feels like it’s still under construction, because, well, it is.
Despite the devastating earthquakes, the city has proven to be resilient as ongoing reconstruction efforts have solidified the city as one of New Zealand’s best travel destination. Christchurch has become a blank canvas, a vibrant, dynamic Garden City, reinventing itself.
There are more things to do in Christchurch today than there were before the earthquakes. Classic sites and activities remain such as the Antarctic Centre, Botanic Gardens, historical Tram, and New Regent Street. They are now joined by new places such as the Margaret Mahy Playground and Riverside Markets.
When planning your itinerary, you only need two days in Christchurch. So, here are six attractions for kids in Christchurch, worth visiting.
If you are planning on driving from Queenstown to Christchurch also read: The Ultimate Family Friendly Guide to Queenstown
When driving from Queenstown to Christchurch here are 5 must do day trips from Queenstown to visit.
Where to Play in Christchurch For Kids
Margaret Mahy playground
Address: 177 Armagh St, Christchurch
If you have kids, or even if you are a child a heart, the Margaret Mahy Playground in Christchurch is for you. The design of this playgrounds inspiration combine elements and stories from New Zealand’s beloved childrens’ writers Margaret Mahy and Elise Locke.
The playground demonstrates one of the fundamental principals selected by the community to rebuild Christchurch: PLAY. Opening in December 2015 as part of an outlay to develop the block, Margaret Mahy Playground is arguably the best in New Zealand. Costing nearly 3 million dollars, it is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. There are four distinct zones; the forest zone, the plain zone, the wetlands zone, and the peninsula zone. Exciting features include a climbing web, slides which are 8 meters wides and 4 meters high, trampolines, climbing frames, seesaws, and sandpits.
When you are ready to take a break from all the action there is also a bbq area, picnic area, and several food carts and stalls to enjoy a bite to eat.
Things to Do in Christchurch For Kids
International Antarctic Centre
Address: 38 Orchard, Christchurch Airport
Children under 5 Free
Children 5-15 $29
The International Antarctic Centre located next to the Christchurch airport offers a huge range of experiences for kids of all ages and even adults. Visit “Antartica,” a continent full of mystery, extreme weather, and fascinating ecology without leaving Christchurch. The entire experience takes about 2 hours, perfect if you have some time before flying home.
Known as one of New Zealand’s most diverse and dynamic tourism attractions, it combines an educations experience with fun and enjoyment. There is an Antarctic storm room where you put on a jacket and overshoes to feel what it might be like to be in an Antarctic blizzard with a wind chill factor of -18 degrees Celsius. Little mini coats and booties are provided for young children. Check out the penguin encounter with 26 of New Zeland’s smallest penguins, the Little Blue Penguins that have been rescued. Feeding time occurs twice a day. Also, you can make friends with huskies, learn about the first expeditions, and enjoy a 4d theatre experience.
Address: 38 Orchard, Christchurch Airport
Taking a ride on the iconic Tram is a must do for kids when visiting Christchurch. Despite suffering damage from the earthquakes, the attraction has been fully repaired and functioning once more. The beautiful restored vintage Tram offers a glimpse into Christchurch’s heritage.
The Christchurch Tram provides the best way of historical viewing sites of the city with your ticket providing a hop-on hop-off at any of the 17 stops, an excellent option for kids. The Tram follows a track through sites such as Cathedral Square, the Avon River, Botanic Gardens, and New Regents Street. As you ride around, the driver will give a funny, informative commentary. Learn about the sites, history of the city, and the impact that the earthquake has had. The tour provides a great insight into how the city has responded and what still needs to be done as a community effort to rebuild Christchurch.
The Tram departs from Cathedral Junction and takes roughly 45 minutes to complete the entire 17 stop route.
Things to See in Christchurch For Kids
New Regent Street
Address: New Regent Street, Christchurch
New Regent Street in Christchurch is one of New Zealand’s most beautiful streets, perfect for kids to stroll down. Designed in the 1930’s with a beautiful Spanish mission style architecture, this street is the only remaining heritage street since the Earthquakes. New Regent street only allows pedestrian access and is part of the tram route, that Prince Harry once visited in 2015.
It is highly recommended that you slowly meander down the street and appreciate the aesthetics of the soft pastel buildings. You will notice that each building is an exact mirror of itself on the other side. Pop in and out of the funky boutique stores, and don’t be afraid to indulge a little.
Located close to Margaret Mahy Playground, you can walk through New Regent Street on your too or from. It is also a 10 minute walk from the Metro Central Bus station or there is plenty of parking nearby.
Address: Rolleston Ave, Christchurch
Open everyday from 7:00am to 6:30pm, the historic Botanic Gardens are a must see attraction for kids when visiting Christchurch. The Botanic Gardens founded in 1863 are extensive with an impressive array of plants. You can either take a stroll through the impressive collections or plants or go on a guided tour.
The Botanic Gardens are made up of several gardens, each with unique displays of exotic and native plants. There is the Central Rose Garden with more than 2500 roses bushes. And the Herb Garden, which contains plants used in cooking and medicine.
In addition to the gardens, the Botanic Garden of Christchurch offers a variety of other attractions suitable for kids. Visit the multiple conservatories which are filled with a collection of plants such as, subtropical plants, ferns, and cacti. There is also a playground and paddling pool for kids to keep them entertained. A Visitor Centre which would make an excellent starting point, and several temporary art installations. Finally visit the Memorial Rotunda, a well-known landmark in Christchurch commemorating some of those what died in World War One.
Where to Eat in Christchurch For Kids
Address: 96 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch
Open seven days a week
A visit to Christchurch will not be complete without a visit to the Riverside Markets. In the heart of Christchurch CBD is a 7-day farmers market with outdoor seating, perfect for kids and families. Small businesses’ and local growers sell a variety of local produce, meat, seafood, flowers, coffee, and more. We suggest stopping and grabbing some lunch from a selection of delicious food options after a morning of exploring the city.
After the devastating February 2011 earthquake, Christchurch began to recover, starting with a pop-up container mall, known initially as Re:Start. Opening in October 2011 as a temporary response to the lack of permeant buildings, life was bought back into the CBD with shops and cafes.
Sever years later what was once a temporary solution became permanent with a unique inner-city experience for both locals and visitors. There are more than 60 affordable food outlets and stalls, restaurants, retailers, and a picnic area right along the Avon.