8 Kid-friendly Spots in Christchurch for Your next Family Day Out
Head to any of these Christchurch locations for parent and kid friendly experiences sure to delight on all levels.
Words by: Lucy Gordon and Isabella Nicholson
Photography by: Neat Places
Don’t let being a parent or carer of a tiny human limit your options for enjoying Christchurch! Whether you're after somewhere for entertainment, or a place to perch for a moment of relaxation, we have you sorted.
Take a read below for a selection of our favourite child-friendly places which are worth a trip—rain or shine. There’s no doubt you can happily visit all of these with the children in tow!
The New Zealand Museum of Toys and Collectibles
36 Manchester Street, Christchurch Central City
A visit to The New Zealand Museum of Toys and Collectibles is a walk down memory lane. From the moment you walk in, the quote, “We didn’t know we were making memories, we just thought we were having fun,” found on the external window, rings true. The museum is home to an impressive collection of toys from the 1920’s to now. Alan, the original toy collector, has been collecting toys for over 35 years, and the museum has regularly changing displays of loan collections. It’s no surprise that you could easily spend hours here, which might just be perfect if you have small people to entertain.
Maze-like in layout means there's a new surprise tucked around each and every corner. The toys are thoughtfully arranged to bring joy to little and big kids alike. There's a miniature train track, thousands of diecast models, a play area, a space for kids to crawl through and so much more. You really do have to look up, down and all around. Upon exit, there is also a vast selection of toys to purchase; perfect for starting that home collection—or adding to it!
Christchurch Botanic Gardens, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury
Taking a walk through the Botanic Gardens is a favourite pastime for many carers of little ones. Nestled in the heart of the gardens, Ilex Café can make an outing even more of a treat. Depending on the weather, you can sit inside the light, open café - or outside, at one of the many tables in the courtyard, or on a bean bag on the adjacent grass. The surroundings include a large lawn, huge trees and a river in the distance. The children’s playground is also not far away for a visit with any older children that may be in tow.
Order your usual café quencher, or jazz up the afternoon and pick something from the wine list. Don’t forget to order a bowl of legendary shoestring fries that you deserve after pounding the paths through the gardens. With a self-opening pushchair and wheelchair door into the café and change tables in both the women’s and men’s bathroom, Ilex is a “baby-friendly” café in the truest sense.
Air Force Museum
45 Harvard Avenue, Wigram, Christchurch
No doubt all members of the family will be filled to the brim with New Zealand's military aviation history and itching to get in the air after a visit to the Air Force Museum.
A bright yellow plane in the former airbase entrance sets the scene for an eye-catching Air Force experience. Follow your nose into the exhibition, where the kids will be both in awe of the planes and enthused by the scattered hands-on educational resources. From teddy bears to boots and medals, there are discoveries to be had for both the big and little kids.
In the superbly lit plane area, human-scale figures commemorate and stand proudly beside aircraft from all eras, adding a personal touch to every story told. The little ones will be mesmerised by the size of the aircraft, as the imaginative ‘toy plane’ play flourishes to life.
105 Orbell Street, Sydenham, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury
Vegan delicatessen, café and bistro, Grater Goods, is the ideal location to introduce small people to plant-based alternatives. With a 100% vegan menu, there will be something to fulfil all bite sizes. Grater Goods is known among locals for plant-based cheeses and meats. Everything on the menu is available to eat in-house or ordered to enjoy at home. No need to feel guilty about these takeaways!
After your meal, be sure to wander around the Grater Goods deli to gather inspiration and ingredients for the kids' lunchboxes, along with some treats for yourself. You’ll discover a wide array of goodies, including Grater Goods own—made with love in Ōtautahi.
Christchurch Central City, Christchurch & Canterbury
Located in the heart of Christchurch City on Rolleston Avenue, Canterbury Museum caters for all history enthusiasts—no matter how big or small. Welcoming visitors for 150 years, the Museum is not shy of creating an impressive experience for all; not to mention the historic Mountford-designed building itself.
Take a wander through the enchanting displays, which are expertly curated from 1871 to the present day. Exhibits range from local to worldwide; from our ancestors to other cultures. Deep within the museum, the Discovery Room is the perfect place for all curious small minds to explore the weird and wonderful - a koha upon entry (under 3’s free!).
As you exit, feeling enriched in history; a recreation of an early Christchurch street is brought to life by window shopping and riding on a penny-farthing.
10 Welles Street, Christchurch Central
Colourful and lively, Burger Burger is as good as it gets when it comes to kid-friendly. As the name suggests, this is the place to go when the whole family is craving a burger above the rest. We recommend visiting on a sunny summer's day to sit in the accommodating outdoor courtyard on Welles Street. Indoors, there are also plenty of nooks to sit, ensuring dinner-table-conversation flows smoothly.
There’s a kid menu with baby burgers, mini sides, homemade sodas and kids shakes. Even the fussiest of eaters will find something to gobble up here. Not to mention, there’s always room for dessert when it involves a special selection of Duck Island ice creams! Once the sugar-rush is on the decline, and someone begins to get a little restless at the table, there is a dedicated play area for children nestled in a corner.
60 Cathedral Square, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury
The sound of giggling echoes through the entrance of Tūranga, as you move up toward the first floor of Hapori; the community space. Bright, bold colours meet at the top of the stairs; a spacious, creative surrounding with Ōtautahi city views for all heights.
With the perfect balance of curiosity and learning, this floor is bursting at the seams with inner child fun and fellowship, bringing enjoyment for all ages. With sections such as— Wāhi Whānau: a place to come together, Taupuni Auaha: a dedicated creative space for inventive minds to run wild, a Wāhi Rangatahi, youth space and last but not least, an imagination station.
While the little ones absorb all the fun to be had; the older kids can enjoy a cuppa or sweet treat from the small café at the opposite end of Hapori, and lap-up some well deserved ‘alone time’.
114 Riccarton Road, Riccarton, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury
Walking into Park Ranger is like entering a cozy, plant-filled sanctuary. Parents of a wee one themselves, it’s no surprise that owners, Rosha and Chenda have child-friendly sussed. For a true break between errands, grab a seat in the courtyard, or perch in the window seating area overlooking Riccarton Road. The youngsters will be entertained watching the world go by while you flick through the café's collection of books and magazines.
Be sure to enjoy the locally roasted coffee, and we all know kids go crazy over a delicious fluffy. For a bite to eat, indulge in something from the menu. If you’re a little shorter on time, choose from the equally good cabinet selection, featuring an array of both sweet and savoury delights.
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Bohemian Bakery’s second storefront is a cozy enclave filled with the smells and sounds of a traditional bakery, like the ever popular Portuguese tart and crusty loaves.
Kung Fu Dumplings
Christchurch may be a long jaunt from Kathmandu, but you won't have to go nearly as far for momo dumplings.
Brew Academy gives you the chance to learn to brew, grab a pint from their tap room, and get a mean feed from Smoke ’n’ Barrel, who operate out of the same premises. There’s a lot on offer at Brew Academy, and good beer ties it all together.
If you love a good neighbourhood bar in the city, 12 Bar is the spot for you. 12 Bar brings together all our favourite things; beer, food and music in abundance.
Much-loved neighbourhood cafe by day, knock-out contemporary Italian eatery by night – The Birdwood might just be the dream local hospo joint.