What's on your Bucket List for Christchurch, New Zealand?

  • Edoras LOTR tours New Zealand
  • Quake City exhibition Christchurch
  • Skydiving kiwis Christchurch
  • swimming with dolphins
  • double decker bus tours Christchurch
  • Waimak Gorge jet boating
  • Red Bus rebuild tour
  • climbing routes Port Hills Christchurch
  • Punting on the Avon River Christchurch
  • Sumner Surf Coach

Ever since the Bucket List movie was released, it has become increasingly popular for people to create their own bucket lists of things they want to do in their lives. If one of the things on your bucket list is "visit Christchurch", you might find the list below also helps you tick off a few more items. If you happen to be staying with Christchurch TOP 10 during your visit, talk to our friendly reception team to make bookings for anything we've listed.

1) Are you a fan of all things Hobbit? 

Of course you know that the LOTR trilogy and the Hobbit movies were all shot in New Zealand's spectacular landscape. And as it happens, some of that landscape is within an hour's drive of Christchurch city. Join some other Tolkein fans and take a Hassle Free Tour to capture your own personal footage. You'll even have some props to play with (for the ultimate LOTR selfies) or you can bring your own. 

2) Earthquake Tourism more your thing?

It's been five years now since the Christchurch earthquake sequence kicked off in 2010, and 14,000 aftershocks later, the city has largely recovered and is morphing into something new. Now visitors are keen to see the transitional projects, check out the residential red zone, discover cool new places like the Margaret Mahy playground and get an overview of how a city can be affected by such a major natural disaster.  

If you want to get an understanding of what happened in the city, begin your experience with a visit to Quake City in Cashel Mall, in the heart of the "under construction" CBD. Quake City is an interactive exhibition run by Canterbury Museum and definitely a great place to start. 

Then take a tour around the city. You can choose from the Rebuild Tour with Red Bus or hop on Hassle Free tours double decker bus ride - either the one hour tour of the city or the three hour trip that takes visitors out to Sumner, up the Port Hills for a view across the plains and the harbour, and also through the beautiful Mona Vale gardens.

3) Keen on heights?

If you want to rock climb or jump from an airplane, you can do that from Christchurch too.

Close to the city there are plenty of well known climbing options sprinkled around the Port Hills and Banks Peninsula, which is the site of a long extinct volcano. 

  • To escape the heat, the NorWester and find some shade, Lyttelton Rock, Jane Fonda Workout Wall, Evans Pass Crag and The Amphitheatre are good picks
  • Britten Crags are the best place to hide from the afternoon NorEaster.
  • Barnett Park would be the most sheltered spot in the Port Hills, Transmitter Crag sometimes stays sheltered from light South Westerlies.

If you want to combine rock climbing with driving, or even some LOTR location spotting, you might want to head for the very cool Castle Hill rocks, which are about half way to the South Island's West Coast (via Arthur's Pass). Plan for an 80 minute drive from the city. Access is free through Dept of Conservation land.

Back to jumping from a plane - flights with Skydiving Kiwis actually leave from Ashburton, about an hour's drive south of the city. Prices start from $235 for a tandem skydive - a truly epic bucket list experience!

4) Slow Boat down the Avon 

If you've dreamed about gondola rides in Venice or punting along an English river, you might like to try punting in Christchurch along the Avon. The river meanders through the city, so you'll get a closeup, relaxing view of the new riverside developments, plus the Earthquake Memorial Wall (to be completed late 2016) on the usual 30 minutes ride. Your ride will be propelled by a suitably attired punter and if you want to add some romance, you can book a private 45 minute ride (minimum two adults). 

5) Fast Boat down a River Canyon

The jetboat engine was invented by Christchurch born kiwi Bill Hamilton, so going jetboating not far from the city is a must do for any adventure seeker. You can jetboat on the Waimakariri River, or head for the Waimak Gorge if you are keen on more thrills. Operator Alpine Jet have been in the game for years and deliver maximum thrills and safety in this typically stunning part of New Zealand.

6) Take it out to Sea - Kayak Time

If you've always wanted to try sea kayaking, you can do that in Christchurch too. The team at Paddler Zone not only sell and hire a wide range of kayaking kit, they also run kayaking courses including a day of kayaking on Lyttelton Harbour. On this course we will teach you the basic paddling techniques and rescue skills you need to get out paddling with friends and family. 

7) Aerial Views - Then Wine and Dine

If you are keen to get the ultimate birds eye view of Christchurch, book a helicopter flight with Garden City Helicopters. They offer a 15 minute scenic flight that gives a great overview, or you can start with the flight over the city then head up to one of the Waipara wineries for lunch for something a little more special. (Note that the advertised price doesn't include the cost of your lunch.)

8) Surf's up!

Being surrounded by beaches means that there are plenty of option for lovers of marine sports. If you've always wanted to learn how to surf (traditional style) or body board, check out the Surf School at Christchurch's Sumner Beach. The water is definitely colder than more tropical location like Hawaii (so you'll definitely need a wetsuit) but the waves are a lot less daunting in size. Surf Coach hire out boards and wetsuits, so all you need to do is book in your group or individual session and make sure the surf is up. 

Yoiu can also learn how to  kitesurf, windsurf or paddleboard on the Sumner Estuary with the team from Groundswell. Lessons start from $100 for a one hour session and you can hire gear from the guys at Groundswell too.

9) Mountains to the Sea: Coast to Coasting

One of the wonderful things about being located on a long skinny island with mountain ranges down the centre is the ability to get from the mountains to the sea in one day - and even from Coast to Coast. If you've always wanted to race from one coast to the other in a day, our internationally recognised Coast to Coast race might be just what you are looking for. In order to make it all the way, this is not an event you can just get up in the morning and decide to do - it needs planning and training, so putting it on your list to register for 2017 is probably the ideal plan. The course is 243km of running, biking and river kayaking across the middle of the South Island, and if the Longest Day is a bit more than you can handle, there is also the two day race and the teams option.

10) Swim with dolphins in their natural habitat

Dophins are highly popular marine mammals and New Zealand is home to some of the world's smallest and rarest - the Hectors and Maui dolphins, notable for their small size and the distinctive "mickey mouse ear" dorsal fin.

For those who have always wanted to 'get in the sea' with these friendly creatures, you can tick that activity off your bucket list in the Akaroa Harbour, just a 90 minute drive from Christchurch.  Book in a two hour swimming trip with Black Cat Cruises, starting from $155 for adults.