At the heart of the Garden City of Christchurch is Hagley Park, a broad expanse of open space covering a huge 165 hectares (405 acres). A focal point of the city since the 1850s, Hagley Park is the most significant central city park and today is an important hub for recreational and cultural pursuits and a great spot for a family day out.
There are many cycle tracks and pathways around the perimeter and throughout the park, making it accessible for everyone. In wintertime you’ll find the park packed with people playing sport, especially on Saturday mornings, and in summer the park literally buzzes with activity – people meeting after work for a run or perhaps a game of ultimate frisbee.
Although much of the central city has been ravaged by earthquakes and in varying stages of demolition and rebuild, Hagley Park remains a steadfast symbol of the city of Christchurch. Despite a small number of closures of buildings and structures within the Park, the grounds are largely unscathed and are a wonderful reminder of what Christchurch will always be – the Garden City.
Hagley Park is a glorious place to wander or exercise all year round, but is especially lovely in springtime. This time of year the park is brimming with daffodils and bluebells - Little Hagley Park along Harper Ave is covered in a carpet of spring flowers, making the area particularly pretty.
Christchurch’s Botanic Gardens, located in South Hagley Park, are another magical place to explore, featuring 21 hectares of horticultural displays, conservatories, memorials, walking tracks and unique flora from New Zealand and other parts of the world. The Botanic Gardens are open every day of the year from 7am. Highlights include the Central Rose Garden and the Daffodil Woodlands. Although the Band Rotunda is currently closed due to the recent earthquakes, this area is still cheerfully spring-like - a perfect spot for a picnic.
The Peacock Fountain, located in the gardens beside Canterbury Museum, has recently be repainted and restored in its original vibrant Edwardian style. Hire a paddleboat or kayak at the nearby Antigua Boatsheds and peacefully meander through the Park along the Avon River. The water is a great way to see the sights!
With towering trees, some as old as 120 years, the park is characterised by woodlands and wide open spaces. Hagley Park has a number of sporting grounds and is home to Hagley Golf Club, Hagley Park Tennis Club, the Christchurch Petanque Club and United Croquet Club and Canterbury Netball. As well as being a recreation centre, the Park is a venue for a number of concerts and festivals, such as the biannual Ellerslie Flower Show, when North Hagley Park becomes awash with landscape-designed gardens of a world class standard. The North Hagley Park Events Village is a temporary entertainment and performance events village which was built in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Since then the Village has hosted events for festivals such as the Body Festival, the Christchurch Arts Festival and the World Buskers Festival. During the summer months as part of the Christchurch City Council’s Garden City SummerTimes initiative there are a number of free concerts and events held in different spots around the Park - check out the SummerTimes website for more information. Two event not to miss are the Anthony Harper Summer Theatre season of Wind and the Willows, which will feature Mark Hadlow from The Hobbit as Toad and The Breeze Lazy Sundays, which will feature an assortment of Christchurch musicians performing on the Archery Lawn every Sunday from January through to early March. Another good reference point for events in and around Hagley Park is the BeThere website. The Christchurch City Council (CCC) website provides you with a map of Hagley Park, as well as a map and information for your tour of the Botanic Gardens.
If you're visiting the city and would like a uniquely Christchurch experience, head to Hagley Park to enjoy the beautiful open spaces, cultivated gardens and vibrancy of this established and much-loved Christchurch landmark.