Christchurch Art Gallery – Te Puna o Waiwhetū
Christchurch has always been a centre for culture on the South Island, so it makes sense the island’s largest art gallery is located in the Garden City. Opened in 2003, visitors are greeted here by a towering glass facade inspired by the Avon River, acting as a mirror to the city. A large sculpture, Reason for Voyaging by Graham Bennett and David Cole, sits in the forecourt, setting the tone for a journey through the artistic and cultural history of Christchurch and beyond.
Exhibitions change regularly, complementing an extensive permanent collection spanning local and international works going back over 200 years. Time your visit before October 16 to see Māori Moving Image ki Te Puna o Waiwhetū, a captivating showcase of Māori artists’ video, film and animation works (and a bit of karaoke) that centres the Māori lived experience and hopes for the future.
No gallery visit is complete without a visit to the gift store. Make a stop at Design Store, stocked with creative crafts – from jewellery to books to clothing to posters, and lots more – all inspired by the gallery’s artworks. The gallery is open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm, with guided tours run by volunteers daily. Entry is free.
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Guided bike tour with Chill Explore Tours
Bike riders rejoice, for Christchurch is the only flat city in the country – making it the place to go if you want a guided bike tour of a city.
Chill Explore offers a range of tours, spanning from the CBD to the beach, and even the pub. To get your bearings, start with a 2.5-hour Urban Explorer Bike Tour. You’ll ride 10–12 kilometres, take in cultural sites and get an up-close look at the revitalisation of the city post-earthquakes.
If you’re looking for a longer ride, book into the 36-kilometre City to Sea and Soak tour to New Brighton, with a reward of a soak in the new beachside He Puna Taimoana Hot Pools at the end. Another option is a 3.5-hour private Food and Wine or Beer Tour for a taste of Christchurch’s local produce, stopping in at Dux Central for a tasting platter followed by local wine or craft beer.
If you’re keen to explore the famous parks and gardens on offer, the Garden City Tour is the one for you. It’s a 12–15-kilometre lap of Christchurch’s best botanical landmarks, including Hagley Park, the Avon River Trail, Mona Vale and Riccarton House. If you want to explore independently, you can also hire bikes and related equipment from Chill Tours.
Scenic flight with GCH Aviation
The scenic beauty of Christchurch and the diverse landscape that surrounds it is best seen from the sky. A quick helicopter tour will give you an unforgettable vista of the snow-capped Southern Alps, the patchwork quilt of the Canterbury Plains and the remnants of Banks Peninsula, an ancient volcano. The shortest flight starts at 20 minutes, but you can book in for longer flights which have the option of stopping at a winery for lunch and wine-tasting (choose from Black Estate or Waipara Hills) or to Middle Rock Station for a farm tour followed by lunch. If you’re after something romantic, consider the Love Is in the Air flight. A one-hour trip designed for couples that takes you over the Port Hills, landing on Mt Herbert for a glass of local wine. If you really want to get adventurous (and aren’t easily distracted by scenery) book in for a trial flight – where you’ll get behind the wheel for an introductory flight with an instructor.
Take a tour with Canterbury Trails
Anyone can drive around and call it a tour. But it isn’t the same as what Canterbury Trails offers through deluxe mini-van tours, featuring expert commentary from local guides. The full-day tour really covers all the sights, from the CBD, Cathedral Square, the Botanic Gardens and The Tannery shopping precinct (a hub of boutique shops, artisan craft stores and independent food and drink outlets) before cruising out to a stunning vantage point in the Port Hills. Along the way, you’ll hear about the city’s resilience and rebuild after the 2011 earthquake.
Canterbury Trails tours vary from tour to tour, but options include kayaking, cruising with endangered Hector’s dolphins, visiting a working farm or just relaxing with a picnic on a peaceful hillside. If you’re a cheese-lover, you’ll be happy to hear a cheese factory visit is built into most itineraries.
Black Cat Cruises
This special three-hour trip with Black Cat Cruises gets you in the water with endangered Hector’s dolphins in Akaroa Harbour, for an ecotourism experience you’ll never forget. Strict eco guidelines mean you can’t touch the dolphins, and all interactions are guided by them – all you need to do is spend two hours in the water. The breed is renowned for being playful, so you could be treated to an underwater acrobatic show. If for some reason the dolphins don’t make an appearance (which only happens three per cent of the time) you’ll receive a 50 per cent refund, or the opportunity to rebook for a different day.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Christchurch NZ.