Free Things To Do in Christchurch Ōtautahi

A group of adults looking intently at a colourful painting on a wall at Christchurch Art Gallery.

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.

Tūranga

Stay and explore key icon. Services key icon.

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.

The Tannery

Bars key icon. Cafes key icon. Fashion key icon. Goods key icon. Restaurants key icon. Services key icon. Theatre and performance key icon.

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

Markets key icon.

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.

Canterbury Museum

Stay and explore key icon. Galleries and museum key icon.

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

Galleries and museum key icon.

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

Galleries and museum key icon.

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

Cafes key icon. Galleries and museum key icon. Theatre and performance key icon.

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.

Neat Christchurch & Canterbury Places

Bonobo Café

Birds-eye view of four dishes on a pink table at Bonobo, Christchurch.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
Cafes key icon.

Bonobo: a benevolent primate, a trip-hop artist and more recently a plant-based cuisine destination in the seaside suburb of Sumner.

Tūranga

Harry Potter stairs at Turanga.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
Stay and explore key icon. Services key icon.

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

Three different cocktails on a black table with straws.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
Restaurants key icon.

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

Looking over the counter into the kitchen where the chef is.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
Restaurants key icon.

Serving authentic Japanese cuisine, Tomi is most famous for their sashimi sourced from the local fish market.