Free Things To Do in Christchurch Ōtautahi
Even without spending a cent, you can enjoy the rich history and beautiful landscape that Christchurch has to offer.
Words by: Ashlyn Oswalt
Photos by: Nancy Zhou
With its spirited history, heritage buildings and picturesque landscapes, there’s plenty to do in the South Island’s largest city.
The bustling city is vibrant post-earthquake, and new buildings and businesses have welcomed residents and visitors into the CBD with arms wide open. Providing entertainment for all for free is no easy task, but Christchurch’s diverse nature and incredible history lends itself well to strolls, window-shopping and more. Here are a few of our favourite places to enjoy at no cost.
60 Cathedral Square, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury
Christchurch city’s central library Tūranga opened in 2018, much to the delight of the residents. The building itself is something to marvel at, with ‘Harry Potter’-esque stairs, open floor plans and big, sweeping views of the city and the historic cathedral’s rebuild below. Between a recording studio, meeting rooms, archives of family records, Māori and Pacifica art, and so much more, there’s plenty to dive into.
3 Garlands Road, Woolston, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury
Head to Woolston to experience the historic Tannery, an old tanning factory that has since been turned into a beautiful mix of shops, cafés, a cinema and a brewery, all housed in a gorgeous, glass-ceiling airy space. Homewares, books and apparel can be found in the little shops, and coffee, pastries and other culinary delights can be enjoyed in the light-filled atrium. Or just stroll along and window shop to your heart’s content.
Christchurch Farmers Market
16 Kahu Rd, Christchurch & Canterbury
Christchurch is perfectly situated to enjoy food and drink from the plains, the mountains and the sea — so what better place to experience all of the above than at the Christchurch Farmers Market? Taking place in the grounds of the historic Riccarton House, the farmers market provides a weekly spot for local makers, growers and tasters to come together and awaken the senses. From fine wines to a glorious array of veges, and enough prepared-on-site items to leave you feeling full, you’ll want to bask in the market’s glory all morning.
66 Gloucester Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury
The Canterbury Museum sits at the end of the Arts District, sidling up next to the Botanic Gardens, making this the perfect spot to stop and enjoy an extensive 2.3 million artifact collection. From the history of New Zealand to rotating exhibits from far and wide, the Canterbury Museum celebrates the region’s rich history and provides free entertainment for young and old.
Christchurch Art Gallery
312 Montreal Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury
Walk towards the Christchurch Art Gallery and you’ll first be taken aback by the beautiful boldness of the building. Eye-catching angles and reflective glass make the art gallery a treat before you walk in the door! From moving exhibits to static pieces that represent the city’s rich culture and history, there’s plenty to peruse at the gallery.
The Physics Room
Registry Building, 301 Montreal Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury
Located in The Arts Centre in the central city, you’ll find The Physics Room, a place to celebrate unique New Zealand art. The contemporary gallery hosts artists’ work from around the country that aims to engage the community in intellectual discourse. The art you’ll find at The Physics Room is often thought-provoking, culturally rooted and politically charged. A walk through this not-for-profit gallery will stir up emotions and questions — in a good way.
The Arts Centre
2 Worcester Boulevard, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury
An iconic Christchurch landmark, The Arts Centre dates back to 1877 and is under restoration after Christchurch’s devastating earthquakes. The Arts Centre is home to Gothic Revival architecture, housing local shops, artisans, makers and food producers in the stunning building. Public art is on display in the courtyard, and there’s hardly a better meeting site to wander than this Christchurch gem.
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Neat Christchurch & Canterbury Places
Addy & Lou Christchurch
The younger sibling of its Kaikōura based namesake, Addy & Lou Christchurch, is a homewares and gift store and a whole lot more.
Bonobo: a benevolent primate, a trip-hop artist and more recently a plant-based cuisine destination in the seaside suburb of Sumner.
It’s not often that grand designs are plucked from the mind’s eye and brought to life. At Tūranga they are, every day.
Miss Peppercorn is a modern eatery, celebrating the fragrant and mouth-numbing flavours of the owner's hometown in the Chinese province of Sichuan.
Tomi Japanese Restaurant
Serving authentic Japanese cuisine, Tomi is most famous for their sashimi sourced from the local fish market.