Run in the forest. Run.

  • Rapaki Track
  • View from Victoria Park

With so many runners and walkers in the Garden City, we decided to come up with a list of what we believe are the top 10 places to go for training runs in Christchurch and the greater Canterbury region. While for some of you, running up to three or four hours at a time will come naturally, others may struggle with the tedium and want new and varied running tracks to have a change in scenery and add a bit of variety. Running not your thing?  No worries, you can always use these tracks for a good old fashioned walk. 

View from the Port Hills

Top 10 places to train for the Christchurch Marathon:

1. Bottle Lake Forest Park:

A picturesque 1000-hectare pine forest on the east coast nestled between Spencer Park to the north and Parklands to the south. This largely flat track will see you winding around a ten kilometre track, and if you’re after adding an extra degree of difficulty then you can trek up and down sand dunes. Be sure to take some sunscreen and a drink bottle as there is no drinking water in the park. Dogs are allowed. Location: The main Bottle Lake Forest entrance is off Waitikiri Drive, off Burwood Road. (Map)

2. Hagley Park:

The heart of Christchurch since the 1850s, Hagley Park is a great spot utilised by runners, walkers and cyclists alike. Various paths circle and weave across both North Hagley (4.5km perimeter) and South Hagley (3.7km perimeter) allowing you to mix up your route and take in the various sites such as the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, Christ's College and the Canterbury Museum. North Hagley also boasts a 17-station fitness circuit for those looking to add an extra element to their training. Location: Central city, start your run from anywhere around the perimeter of the park. (Map) 

Hagley Park Botanical Garden

3. Beach run:

Wanting to get some sand beneath your toes? You can start your run anywhere north of Southshore, perhaps in New Brighton and you'll have an open expanse of beach all the way to the Waimakariri river mouth. From Southshore to Waimakariri and back is roughly 40km's so take plenty of fluids. Location: Along the coastline, east of the central city. We recommend starting at New Brighton Pier. (Map)

4. Boulder Bay/Godley Heads:

If you're after spectacular coastal views, this is the run for you. Drive to Taylor's Mistake - the bay on from Sumner. At the eastern (right hand) end of the beach there is a cliff edge track that will see you winding around the coastline past Boulder Bay and further on to Godley Heads. The path is wide, however you may want to avoid this track after heavy rains, unless you don't mind getting a bit muddy. Oh and keep an eye out for whales, the last time we were there we saw both an Orca and a Humpback! Location: The track starts at from the Taylor’s Mistake car park. Taylor’s Mistake is the next bay on from Sumner. (Map) 

View from Victoria Park

5. Victoria Park:

There are many fantastic tracks up in the Port Hills. One of our favourites is Victoria Park, this will have you running up hills and down dales, and allowing you to choose your own adventure so to speak, with different tracks crisscrossing the hills. And if you're a bit of a cyclist, or a triathlete then have a go at that too - you'll blend in with all the other locals exploring the hills on their bikes. Location: South of the central city located in the Cashmere hills. (Map) 

6. Along the Avon:

Location: The Christchurch rebuild focuses heavily on highlighting the beauty of the Avon. Many new buildings are being constructed on its edges, so what better way to see the progress the city is making. A good starting point is Victoria Square, from here you will wind through the suburbs of Avonside, Wainoni, Avondale, Aranui and Bexley where the river merges with the estuary and incoming tide. Be sure to keep an eye on the Transport for Christchurch website [] to check on road closures and planned road works. Location: Starting from the central city and heading out to the wetlands of Bexley. (Map)

7. Halswell Quarry Park:

With fantastic views of the Southern Alps, running around Halswell Quarry will allow you to trek around a park which has played a major role in the development of Christchurch. The stone mined at the quarry was used in various buildings around Christchurch from 1850 to 1990 such as the Canterbury Museum. The park also features six Sister City Gardens which are filled with native plants from their respective regions. The park is ideal for a short run, and if you want to lengthen your run then you can always link up with Kennedy's Bush Track found to the east of Halswell Quarry Park. Location: Southwest of the city on Kennedy’s Bush Road. (Map)

8. Banks Peninsula - Governors Bay:

Banks Peninsula is full of wonderful places and trails to explore. One of which is the Foreshore Road Walkway between Governors Bay and Allandale. Constructed by prisoners from Lyttelton Gaol, the 3.5km walk offers excellent views of Lyttelton Harbour. To expand this run you can drive or cycle up to the nearby Hoon Hay Scenic Reserve where there are many tracks to choose from. Location: South of the central city, you can get to Governor’s Bay by either going over Dyers Pass Road or going through the tunnel to Lyttelton and then following the coast south. (Map) 

Governors Bay

9. Rapaki Track:

If you are after training running up hills, Rapaki is the spot for you. The path that rises around 250 metres has recently been resurfaced so is ideal for training without the threat of rolling an ankle. Location: Southeast of the central city, start your run from the junction of Rapaki Road and Centaurus Road. (Map) 

10. Little River rail trail:

The rail trail runs from Motukarara to Little River and is parallel with State Highway 75. Along this route you'll spot various flora and fauna, especially on the shoreline of Lake Ellesmere and Lake Forsyth. You may want to be tactical when you run this track as the full distance one way  is 49 km's, however you can start at various spots along the way to reduce this. Location: Take State Highway 75 South of the city, begin your run in Motukarara, or closer to Little River… unless you want to run an ultra-marathon! (Map) Finally, to all those running the marathon, best of luck, and if you’re after somewhere to stay then be sure to check out our various accommodation options.