We fell in love with Christchurch, New Zealand, the minute we stepped foot in the city (and we are not city people…). We loved the feel of it, the many family-friendly options, free activities, and had a fun-packed 48 hours!
There are countless options to keep the kids entertained and happy, and here are 10 ideas for non-stop fun in Christchurch, New Zealand, with kids!
1- The Biggest Playground In The Southern Hemisphere
Christchurch is home to the largest playground in the Southern Hemisphere and you can’t miss it.
The Margaret Mahy Playground will keep your little ones (and young ones at heart) entertained for hours.
What we loved about the Margaret Mahy Playground:
- the trampoline area
- the giant climbing structure
- the wide slide
- one of the largest water play area we’ve ever seen
- the long playground zip line,
- the coffee and food trucks for the parents’ well being!
- very clean public bathrooms
2- New Regent Street
From the Margaret Mahy Playground, walk to the Christchurch Public Library. I highly recommend strolling down New Regent St as you do so. It is a very short but fun pedestrian street, shared with the Christchurch cable car.
If you walk there later in the afternoon, chances are good that some of the restaurants will have laid lunch boxes outside their door with a discounted price tag for you to take home!
3- The Christchurch Public Library
The Christchurch Public Library is amazing on all fronts!
The first thing you’ll notice is the modern architecture inside the building. With open spaces, bright and warm materials, and an incredible rooftop view, you’ll feel home as soon as you step foot in the building.
Before settling in, walk upstairs to the roof top terrace and marvel at views of the Cathedral. Chances are, you will find still find ruins from the last Christchurch earthquake that destroyed so much of the city.
Then head over to the first floor (second floor in New Zealand), where the kids can have fun and where you will find comfortable spots to read a book or use the library’s free wifi.
What we loved about the Christchurch Public Library:
- the large Lego area with thousands of tiles
- the calm reading tower with a slide
- plenty of kids’ dress-up costumes
- the children activities led by the library’s team (i.e., painting)
- the staff kindly orchestrating and supervising the kids as they played Playstation games
- comfy spots for the parents to enjoy free wifi with lots of bright natural light
4- A Stroll Through The City
We didn’t spend nearly enough time in Christchurch to do all of the strolling it deserves.
But at the very least, walk behind the library for a while. There, you will come across the Christchurch Cathedral, which still showed signs of destruction from the dramatic 2011 earthquake.
From there, let your heart take you from shopping streets to parks, playgrounds, historical buildings, and squares.
5- Christchurch Botanical Gardens
The Christchurch Botanical Gardens are entirely free. Easily accessible, it is a beautiful and serene park to rest and enjoy nature in the middle of the city.
What we loved about the Christchurch Botanical Gardens:
- large lawns shaded by old trees and perfect for a picnic
- graveled paths, ideal for strollers, kids’ scooters, bikes, etc.
- large public pool
- nice playground
6- Canterbury Museum
Since you will be in the Christchurch Botanical Gardens, walk to the very end to find the free Canterbury Museum.
On several levels, it is a fun museum where you’ll spend several hours!
What we loved about the Canterbury Museum:
- the upstairs Antarctica exhibition!
- learning about early life in New Zealand
- the re-construction and walk-through of old Christchurch
- visiting the life-size model of a famous shell-collecting couple’s home
- the fun study of a group of kids who were followed from birth until today
7- Mona Vale Park
Mona Vale is a secret little piece of paradise. The park is wonderful to walk through and resource yourself.
What we loved about Mona Vale:
- the peacefulness of a walk along the river with beautiful estates on the other side
- the rose garden
- summertime open-air theater productions
- clean public bathrooms
8- Air Force Museum Of New Zealand
The Air Force Museum of New Zealand is another free museum, great for kids and adults. There, you will learn so much about wars fought from the air and will fully grasp the involvement of Kiwis in our world wars.
What we loved about the Air Force Museum of New Zealand:
- lots of historical and modern airplanes
- a WWII concentration camp escape experience
- getting to steer war airplanes
- artifacts of past wars
9- Beach Outing From Christchurch
One really neat place to enjoy the beach near Christchurch is New Brighton Beach. It is a short drive from the city and a fun place for the kids to let out some energy!
What we loved about New Brighton Beach:
- the pizza and other small restaurants on the main street
- the amazing playground right on the ocean, including its splash zone
- the oceanfront public library
- the long beach
- staying for sunset and watching the pier illuminate in different colors
10- The Night Noodle Markets
The Night Noodle Markets are unfortunately only hosted once a year… but if you’re there during that time, you can’t miss it! And if you miss this one, check their website to see which other Kiwi city it is visiting!
The admission is free and the event is located right by the Botanical Gardens’ parking lot (Hagley Park North). Check for dates and location here.
What we loved about the Night Noodles Market:
- the number of stalls, all held by different local Asian restaurants!
- being able to grab an Indonesian main dish, a Filipino dessert, and a Thai cocktail all in one meal
- the cultural demonstrations and music
- eating down on the grass
- small prices per dish
Free Things To Do In Christchurch With Kids
As you start exploring Christchurch, I know you will find more fun things to do with the kids. Christchurch is an amazing city to visit with children and I hope you love it as much as we did!