How to Spend Autumn in Christchurch Ōtautahi

Two people spending time outside a glasshouse at Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

Put on your flannel and get ready to explore. This South Island city is teeming with the best things to do in autumn.

Words by: Caitlin Brown

Photos by: Nancy Zhou

There’s something to be said about the magic of autumn; the air gets crisp, the evenings wind down with red wine and hearty meals, and the landscape turns to gold. Whether you’re already missing summer or fully embracing the colder season, this guide to Christchurch in Autumn will help you make the most out of the next few months.

Stroll through the Botanic Gardens

Christchurch Botanic Gardens, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

The temperatures may drop, but that’s no reason to spend all your time indoors. Bundle up and take in autumn colours with a stroll through the enchanting Christchurch Botanic Gardens (hot chocolate in hand from on-site cafe Ilex, of course). The seasonal blooms and golden treetops are the perfect antidotes to shorter days and chillier nights.

Road trip to Waipara

North Canterbury

There’s nothing quite like autumn at North Canterbury’s cellar doors. Head to Kumiko’s Guest House in Waipara, where you can rest easy and warm up next to a log burner before a jaunt to some of the region’s most acclaimed wineries, like Black Estate, Pegasus Bay, Georges Road and Terrace Edge Wines. Be on the lookout for special harvest events, like Black Estate’s celebration of the end of harvest at Netherwood.

Take in the views on a Canterbury hike

Call us crazy, but this time of year might be our favourite to get outside for a hike. The air’s crisp, the sun’s more forgiving, and the views are often even more spectacular. Head to a few of our top picks, like Godley Head or Packhorse Hut (be sure to warm up by the hut’s fire after the day’s walk), and Bealey Spur for a sight of Arthurs Pass.

A hand passing a plate of food across a table at Gatherings.

Gatherings

Experience seasonal fare by the city's best chefs

Autumn brings a bounty of rich flavours to the table, and the seasonally changing menus in many of the city's finest establishments take full advantage. Head to Inati or Mapu when you want the evening to feel extra special or perch yourself at Merivale’s casual and inviting Gatherings, where seasonal ingredients are king.

For the perfect date night spot, you can’t go wrong at Twenty-Seven Steps on New Regent Street, or head up to Tussock Hill Vineyard, where you can pair your autumnal dishes with wine made from grapes grown on Christchruch’s very own port hills.

Warm up at the hot pools

When you want a relaxing experience close to home, look no further than a sunrise soak at He Puna Taimoana Hot Pools in New Brighton, where you can sip on a mocktail while the sun peeks up over the horizon. For something a bit further afield with additional spa options, try the Ōpuke Thermal Pools in Methven, where you can indulge in a facial or hot stone massage. 

Of course, if you’re jonesing for a true autumn getaway, you can’t go wrong with stargazing on a floating hammock at Tekapo Springs.

Explore the Christchurch Adventure Park

Stay and explore key icon.

225 Worsleys Road, Cracroft, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

Whether you want to boost your adrenaline by soaring above the treetops on the highest and longest zipline in New Zealand, or wind down a bit with one of their movie nights or a local gin tasting, the Adventure Park brings a little something for everyone. It’s the perfect place gathering place for friends, family, and big groups this season.

Find the best in season at the local farmer's markets

Markets key icon.

16 Kahu Rd, Christchurch & Canterbury

Strolling through the Christchurch Farmer’s Market or Lyttleton Farmer’s Market, this time of year borders on cinematic, and it’s easy to see why. With someone usually strumming away on a guitar, hot beverages at the ready, and tables of autumn produce, you’ll be hard-pressed not to find yourself in a great mood as you head home with a tote full of goodies.

A person holding two baskets of mushrooms.

Forage for food and fungi

Ever been curious about foraging and mushroom hunting but don’t know where to start? Now’s the best time to get acquainted since Ōtautahi Urban Foraging is leading exciting foraging events this season. Take a stroll through the Red Zone to see what treasures you can uncover in nature, and start getting creative in the kitchen.

Hunker down in a cosy corner

Cafes key icon.

176 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

If there’s one thing Christchurch has no shortage of, it’s great cafés and cosy restaurants. Hunker down in a spot, grab a good book (ok, fine, or your laptop), and indulge in a hot spiced chai or chocolate that will make you feel entrenched in cosy vibes. Miro boasts not one but two fireplaces to keep you comfortable and The Old Vicarage's charming and quaint surroundings feel like a true home away from home. 

Clothes on racks on display at A&C Homestore.

Treat yourself to new, cosy homewares

This time of year means shorter days, longer nights, and more time spent at home. Indulging in a few goodies at one of Christchurch’s local shops is the ticket to enjoying the extra downtime. Comb through Frances Nation or Shelf Home + Gifts for a great seasonal candle, or pick up extra warm bedding and toasty throw blankets at A&C Homestore in the CBD.

Neat Christchurch & Canterbury Places

Downstairs Bar

Dark moody image inside Downstairs where their is bright feature lighting.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
Bars key icon. Restaurants key icon.

What do you get when you marry the cosy vibes of an intimate pub with the sophistication of an inner city wine bar? You end up with the best of both worlds and the result is Downstairs on New Regent Street.

Movement Art Practice

Woman dancing at Movement Art Practice.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
Stay and explore key icon.

Start the journey into contemporary dance without judgement.

PLUME

The exterior and entrance to the PLUME clothing store in Christchurch.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
Fashion key icon.

Makes a strong case for the enduring value of a bespoke and compelling retail experience.

Fiksate

View of the gallery with woman working in the distance at Fiksate in Christchurch.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
Galleries and museum key icon.

Fiksate provides an unexpected hotspot for Christchurch’s love of urban art.