Throw on Your Barbour, Here's 11 Things to Do in Christchurch This Winter

Photo of puffer jacket hanging up by Rick Barrett.

Has the drop in temperature and southerly blasts got you hunkered down? Well, it’s time to grab your puffer, we’ve got some activities to get you out of hibernation mode this winter.

Words by: Ashlyn Oswalt & Julia Rutherford 

Photography by: Neat Places & Rick Barrett 

If you can feel the winter blues creeping in, check out our ultimate list of activities to keep you warm and embrace the season here in Christchurch Ōtautahi. Whether you want a cosy night out, looking to fill your cultural cup or are keen to explore the wider region, Te Waipounamu’s largest city has plenty of things to keep you busy and make winter more bearable.

Stroll CoCA & Christchurch Art Gallery

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Christchurch Central City

Conveniently located right next to each other, Christchurch’s CoCA (Centre of Contemporary Arts) and the Christchurch Art Gallery make for a perfect winter’s day activity. CoCA offers an ultra-modern, two-storey deep dive into the contemporary art of today, from near and far. The gallery currently houses the Canterbury Museum pop-up while it undergoes extensive renovations. Expect to see museum collection highlights, visitor favourites and limited-time exhibitions. When you’ve finished at CoCA, stroll around the corner to Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, housed in a stunning glass building, featuring a rotating ensemble of all sorts of art from all over the world. Little curiosities abound at the gallery, and the friendly staff are always around the corner to answer any burning questions that may arise.

Soak at He Puna Taimoana

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195 Marine Parade, New Brighton, Christchurch

There’s nothing better on a cold, frosty day than enjoying a soak in some hot pools and one of the best spots in Christchurch for just this is New Brighton’s He Puna Taimoana. Located right next to the sea, these hot pools offer stunning ocean views and a relaxing atmosphere. Luxuriate in the sauna and steam room, and if you’re an early riser you must book for the Sunrise Soak option. To keep yourself nice and toasty post-pool experience, head to one of New Brighton’s finest cafes such as Switch or Saturdays for a coffee or hot chocolate. Saturdays is super handy, located right next door to He Puna Taimoana, while you can find Switch down Carnaby Lane.

Cosy interior of Pomeroy's in Christchurch with leather sofas, low lighting and brick walls.

Enjoy a drink or dinner at one of these cosy hotspots

In Ōtautahi there is no shortage of bars, restaurants and cafes that will make you feel warm and welcome in these cooler winter months. Cosy vibes are in abundance at Pomeroy’s, a family-run English-style pub perched on the edge of the city centre. Settle in at a booth, or if you’re lucky one of the inviting leather sofas might be available, and order a mulled wine and some gravy fries while you peruse the menu further. In the heart of the city centre’s South Town precinct, you’ll find Bar Yoku in the Welder where the high ceilings and bright interior bring an outdoor feel to the enclosed central courtyard. Pair this with their hot sake and yakitori skewers straight off the grill and you are all sorted.

If you’re in the centre of town and need to warm up quickly two destinations spring to mind; Ramen Ria just outside Riverside Market is a must for a steaming bowl of ramen, while Miro has a delightful fire and stellar food to match. Heading out of the city, towards the Port Hills? Then a stop off at Somerfield’s Moon Under Water is right on your way, this busy, buzzy neighbourhood pub brings the cosiness in spades over winter and their beers and food are spot on.

Embrace your inner bookworm at Tūranga

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60 Cathedral Square, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch

Tūranga, Christchurch’s central city library offers something for everyone on a cold winter’s day. The first floor features a child’s fantasy land, complete with a LEGO pit, activities and plenty of books to go around. Above, dig deep into Christchurch or your own family’s history on the “Identity” floor, which offers a rich collection of historic documents. Further above you’ll find a vast collection of fiction and non-fiction, Māori art, 3D printers, and more. If sifting through the extensive collection has worked up a thirst, we suggest heading downstairs to Foundation Café for a warm cuppa and if you’re peckish, their cheese scone is perfection.

Road trip to Waipara Wineries (Black Estate, Greystone, Georges Road Wines)

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614 Omihi Road, Waipara

Located just an hour outside of Christchurch, Waipara provides the perfect backdrop for a winter’s day wine tasting. Georges Road Wines, a small estate with big wines, is a friendly spot worth a visit. With a “make your own cheese board” option, the space sings with simplicity of the best kind. Next door, head to Terrace Edge Wines, a family-owned vineyard and olive grove with a large array of award-winners. From there, try Greystone wines, where you can try organic wines, like their vine-fermented pinot noir. They also offer a pre-set menu long lunch which includes wine tastings in a lovely, cosy setting. Finally, make your way to Black Estate for either more tasting or another long lunch and enjoy the vineyard’s biodynamic wines. If you’re feeling rather indulgent, both Black Estate and Georges Road offer accommodation on their vineyards.

Exterior of The Dubliner Irish pub in Methven with farm truck parked outside

Take a day trip (or longer!) to Methven

Embrace the season and go all in with a road trip to Methven where you can indulge in all the very best winter activities. From skiing and ice skating to hot pools and a pub meal, there’s plenty to do and plenty to love about Methven, winter really is its time to shine! If you’re driving from Christchurch and have some keen ice skaters in your group, first venture to Stavely, where the community ice rink is legendary among locals and is one of the very few outdoor rinks in these parts. If skiing or snowboarding is more your cup of tea, make for Mt Hutt and get there early to beat the crowds, nothing beats being on the mountain for the first runs of the day.

If après-ski activities hold the most appeal for you, the centre of Methven is where you should set your Google maps for. The Ōpuke Thermal Pools and Spa are the perfect antidote to winter, soak in the hot pools or indulge in a beauty treatment. Wrap up your day at the quintessential Irish pub The Dubliner for a cosy pint and plate of soul-warming grub. Now that’s a winter’s day done right!

A box of French macarons from Butter being passed out a small shop window

Saturday morning city happenings

Come the weekend in winter it can be tempting to spend all day inside at home, especially if the weather is less than ideal. However, we have two very strong drawcards that might just get you out of bed, out the door and into the city on a Saturday morning. The first of these being the sweet sensation that is BUTTER, the patisserie helmed by award-winning pastry chef Corentin Esquenet and the pop-up window he holds every Saturday morning. Don’t let the line that snakes down Tuam Street put you off, the wait is 100% worth it and you’ll have delicious treats to get you through the rest of your wintery weekend. The second is the revival of a bustling Saturday market in the Arts Centre. Launched in May 2024, the Seekers Mākete brings artisanal crafts, gourmet street food and live performances to the Arts Centre and it’s a great spot to meet up with friends, wander the stalls and beat those winter blues.

Cinema date night

Who doesn’t love a trip to the movies, it’s a date night classic for a reason and when it’s dark and cold outside, the warm embrace of an independent cinema counteracts the bitterness of winter. In Christchurch, we are blessed with cinemas bursting with character and their film programming takes into consideration a diverse range of interests. If you and your date, be that friend, partner or family, are near the Arts Centre, check out the screening times at Lumière Cinemas, where you’re guaranteed to find a range of arthouse, independent and film festival favourites playing. Alice has been on the Christchurch cinema scene forever and we hope that continues for many years to come. Their Cheap Tuesdays are where it’s at, it will even leave you with spare change for a bite to eat at nearby Little High Eatery. Last but not least, The Tannery’s Deluxe Cinemas often hosts film festivals over the winter months so keep your eye out for their schedule and you may as well hit up Cassel’s Brewery Bar & Restaurant for a pint and pizza while you’re nearby.

Bright pink exterior of Nifty, a second-hand shop inChristchurch

Add to your winter wardrobe sustainably

We can’t be the only ones that feel more prepared to face the cooler temperatures, than when we have our winter wardrobes ready to go with gorgeous knits, coats and scarves to ward off the chill. Retail therapy doesn’t need to break the bank and you can add to your style lineup sustainably with a visit to some of Ōtautahi’s second-hand shopping gems. Nifty on Cashel Street is easy to spot with its pale pink facade and inside it is a treasure trove of vintage, preloved and consignment items. Nifty is easy to navigate with colourfully curated zones and a passion for pairing their customers with the right clothing for them. You’ll find more quality pieces at the Recycle Boutique on High Street, where it isn’t unusual to come across designer brands and clothes you’d never guess were preloved.

Catch a live performance at The Court Theatre

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36 Clarence Street South, Addington, Christchurch

There is hardly a better time to enjoy a show than in winter, and the Court Theatre provides an incredible place to catch a live performance. As the largest theatre company in New Zealand, the Court Theatre sets the bar high for proper entertainment. From comedies, musicals, children’s theatre, mysteries, and Māori and Pasifika plays the theatre has something for everyone. Their “Scared Scriptless” improv nights on a Friday are a real treat and you’ll want to make a proper date night out of them by ordering a Base pizza and pint beforehand.

Get a sweat on at Boulder Uprising

199 Ferry Road, Waltham, Christchurch

Work up a sweat bouldering at Uprising. The lofty space features bouldering problems for all levels - even kids! It has plenty of space to spread out and get stuck in. If you’d rather something more gentle, their purpose-built yoga studio offers world-class yoga in a serene setting. Finally, once you’ve finished your activities, grab yourself a beer and pizza from their café and enjoy it on the mezzanine floor, with views of the boulderers below.

Neat Christchurch & Canterbury Places

Ramen Ria

Bowl of fresh ramen with sides.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
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Ramen Ria has all of the flavour and fun that can be found in some of Tokyo’s most well known, yet tucked away ramen joints.

Absolution Tattoo and Body Piercing

View of the counter at Absolution Tattoo and Body Piercing studio in Christchurch.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
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A contemporary tattoo and body-piercing studio in the Arts Centre.

The Observatory Hotel

A Modern Gothic lounge design.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
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The Observatory Hotel is a beautiful central location in Christchurch, allowing you to leave the car for your stay and explore the city on foot.

J Friend & Co

Close up of person pulling up fresh Honey comb oozing honey.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
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Find local honey with as little intervention as possible at Christchurch honey business, J Friend & Co.