The Best Free Experiences in Christchurch, NZ

Today’s sponsored post was written by blogger Stacey Lyons, who enjoys exploring her home country of New Zealand and sharing her findings through blogs and articles in a number of publications. One of her favourite activities is exploring the farmer’s market at Riccarton House, where she always enjoys a cup of Hummingbird Coffee.

Let’s face it: Not everyone heads out on holiday with an unlimited budget. Whether you’re travelling on a shoestring, backpacking through New Zealand, or you’ve spent most of your budget on accommodations or meals — or maybe you just don’t want to spend that much — when you discover something that’s interesting, fun and free to boot, it makes your holiday just that much more enjoyable.

In the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, you’ll find plenty of activities that fall into the category of fun and free. Although must of the city’s Central Business District (CBD) was destroyed by a massive earthquake in 2011 and remains restricted to visitors, many places, especially places not significantly impacted by the quake, have reopened after repairs.

If you want to save some cash on your trip to New Zealand, add some of these sites to your itinerary:

Hagley Park

Hagley Park is Christchurch’s largest open green space, and home to the Botanic Gardens. The Avon River flows through the gardens, and if you want to spend a little money, spring for a boat ride on the river known as “punting,” Christchurch’s answer to Venice’s gondolas. Even if you just want to watch others being punted down the river from the bridges crossing the water or the banks of the river, the Botanic Gardens are a relaxing and beautiful place to see some native New Zealand plant life.

Hagley Park, Christchurch

Photo by profernity, on Flickr

New Brighton Pier

Originally built in 1894 and restored in 1997, New Brighton Pier is ideal for strolling, fishing or simply watching the ocean and surfers. You’ll find activities nearby, including cafes and play areas, and on Sundays you might be able to see local artist Peter Donnelly’s legendary sand art creations.

Sumner Beach

While many of the surrounding cliffs were destroyed in the earthquake, and access to some areas of the beach and surrounding areas is still restricted, Sumner Beach, on the outskirts of the city, still offers beautiful scenery and stunning views of the ocean and Christchurch. Follow in the footsteps of generations of Christchurch locals and stroll along the Esplanade along the beach, watching the surfers ride the impressive waves. In the summer, Sumner Beach is a hotbed of activity, but well worth the visit.

Sumner Beach

Photo by Bryce Edwards, on Flickr

Art Gallery

A free collection of more than 6,000 works of art, Christchurch’s Art Gallery is one of the most significant museums in the entire Southern Hemisphere. While the gallery itself is expected to remain closed for repairs until mid-2013, that doesn’t mean you can’t experience some of the museum’s collection. You can find pieces from the Gallery’s collection at various locations throughout Christchurch through the Outer Spaces programme, which rotates pieces every few months. You’ll also find a selection of exhibits at the NG gallery in Christchurch.

Riccarton House

Architecture and history buffs will enjoy an afternoon at Riccarton House & Bush, a free heritage park. The house itself is a well-preserved and restored example of Victorian/Edwardian design, but the real attraction here is the Bush, an ancient forest of kahikatea trees. The bush is the last remnant of the floodplain forest that once covered Canterbury. Riccarton House & Bush also hosts a Farmer’s Market throughout the year. The market is divided into three sections: arts and crafts, ready-to-eat foods and live music. You’ll find art and music on Sundays, and food on Saturday mornings.

Christchurch Farmers' Market

Photo by Miles Continental, on Flickr

City Mall

Shopping isn’t exactly free, but the Christchurch City Mall is worth visiting, if only to see the resilience of the people of the city after the devastating earthquake. This large pedestrian mall was largely destroyed in the 2011 event, and has slowly been reconstructed. Some of the mall’s shops were reopened in shipping containers, making it one of the world’s first “pop-up” shopping malls. A stroll through the mall will not only reveal the rebuilding efforts, but also give you a chance to window-shop in this fashionable area.

With Christchurch flight deals being plentiful, there’s no reason to put off visiting this charming city — especially with some of the best sites the city has to offer free or low-cost. So save your money for a nice hotel or a gourmet meal, and fill your itinerary with Christchurch’s free activities.


Do you know of any other free/inexpensive activities in Christchurch?



*Note: This post was written and submitted by a third party.


  • Ryan says:

    I’m so bummed I didn’t get more time to explore Christchurch. I was there for a few days but I only had a chance to walk around near my hostel and hit the city mall. But I did go way up above christchurch to the hills and mountains that overlook it which was gorgeous!
    Ryan recently posted..Update: Home From Haiti (This Contrast May Kill Me)

    • DangerousBiz says:

      It’s a city I really need to spend some more time in, too. I was there for a few days on my last NZ trip, but it was just a couple of months after the big quake, so a lot of things were still closed and/or just piles of rubble. I’ll be interested to see what it looks like next time I’m there!

  • Jemma says:

    It’s great that we can still experience a lot of awesome things for FREE. The Riccarton House is really beautiful. Someday, I will build a house like Riccarton. 🙂 I’m sure it’s also lovely to stroll at the Hagley Park – a great place to have a breath of fresh air.
    Jemma recently posted..Mountain View Nature’s Park in Busay

  • Sam says:

    We were just in San Carlos de Bariloche, which is a sister city of Chritchurch and claims to be the “Christchurch of South America”! Good to know there are some cool free things to do there, as all I’d heard about it before was expensive-sounding adventure sports that involve jumping off high things.
    Sam recently posted..Hostel Highs and Lows in Southern Chile

    • DangerousBiz says:

      There definitely ARE a lot of expensive things to do in New Zealand. But almost every city also has a great range of free or cheap things to do/see, too!

  • Omg, I had no idea you could go to the beach in Christchurch! It was pretty depressing when we were there. Areas still blocked off because of the earthquake.
    Kieu ~ GQ trippin recently posted..Bolivia Salt Flats: Salar de Uyuni (Part 2)

    • DangerousBiz says:

      It’s sad to see what was such a beautiful city still struggling. BUT the spirit the locals have is amazing, and there are still lots of really cool things to do in Christchurch, even as it rebuilds.

  • As a Chch resident, the Saturday morning farmers market is by far my favorite thing about Chch. There are some good walks that I would rate above some of the things mentioned here eg Taylors Mistake.
    Kate @30Traveler recently posted..How to Find an Inexpensive Apartment in New York

  • I’m a Chch local too and this is a good list of things to do. In fact, I just got back from taking my cousin visiting from London on a tour of the red zone! The city centre is gradually opening up and going on a tour to look at all the damaged buildings is quite interesting. A new “cardboard cathedral” is currently under construction which is pretty impressive!
    Bethaney – Flashpacker Family recently posted..Ten Great Beaches in New Zealand

  • Shannon says:

    I second the botanical gardens! I visited Christchurch in May 2011, so a lot of things were still closed, but the gardens were beautiful, even though it was almost Winter! I liked it even better than the botanical garden in Wellington…. We enjoyed the Saturday farmers market too, lots of great stuff! Totally a city worth visiting, even after the earthquake.

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