Request a free Brochure

Get a FREE Active Adventures Brochure

Includes info on all of our trips.

By submitting this request, you agree to our Privacy Policy



Christchurch, the 'Garden City', is where the majority of our South Island trips start and finish. New Zealand's second largest city, with a population of around 350,000, it's located on the east coast of the South Island and has a cosmopolitan feeling all of its own. Whether you have just a couple of hours in town, or a few days at the beginning or end of your trip, there is plenty to occupy your time.

The city was originally developed as a Church of England community and today the city retains a distinctly English character, with punts floating down the tree-lined river Avon through the centre of the city giving rise to scenes very reminiscent of the Oxbridge University cities. The relatively compact city centre surrounding the imposing neo-gothic Cathedral contains a variety of shops, restaurants, bars and hotels and away from the centre there is a mixture of landscaped gardens and parkland, colonial-style and gothic housing, and modern suburbs.

However, the area is not totally influenced by the English as less than 50 miles away in the midst of the Banks Peninsula lies the town of Akaroa, originally settled by the French in the mid-1800s, and still very Gallic both in architecture and atmosphere. This is always a very popular day-trip destination for visitors to the area. Closer to the city is Lyttleton, a deep sea port just outside of Christchurch, which is both a charming little town and a big sea port. It's where ships leave for Antarctica, too.


chch 2

Antarctic Centre

A great place to visit if you have a couple of spare hours at the airport, but a visit to this superb exhibit should also be on your agenda however long you are in town. Located just 5 minutes walk from the terminals at Christchurch Airport, the Antarctic Centre boasts a range of exhibits aimed at recreating the atmosphere of Antarctica and providing visitors with an interactive, fun and exciting experience of the "Great White South".

International Antarctic Centre


There is a good selection of Museums and Galleries in Christchurch to please those with an interest in history, culture and the arts. Among the more notable are the Canterbury Museum which can be found close to the entrance to the Botanic Gardens and the brand new Christchurch Art Gallery, which opened in May 2003. The Arts Centre is a 'vibrant and exciting venue for a huge range of New Zealand made art and crafts, shopping, education and entertainment'.

Christchurch Art Gallery
Christchurch Arts Centre

Parks and Gardens

There is no shortage of greenery in the area. The main attraction for those with an interest in flora are the 30-hectare Botanical gardens, located just west of the city centre, within the confines of Hagley park which is also a great place to hang out in its own right. There are also a couple of local wildlife parks: Orana Wildlife Park and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, where you can check out a variety of native and exotic birds and animals.

Orana Wildlife Park
Willowbank Wildlife Reserve


Although it may lack the grand surroundings of other destinations such as Queenstown, there is still plenty of hiking to be done, in particular on and around the Banks Peninsula. There are short hikes from the Heathcote Valley over the ridge to Lyttleton harbour, around the Godley Head Walkway which is a couple hour round-trip from Taylor's Mistake, or for a longer day hike there is the Crater Rim Walkway around Lyttleton Harbour. For those with plenty of time on their hands, there is a privately run multi-day track around Banks Peninsula, which can be done in either 2 or 4 days.


The beaches at New Brighton and Sumner are the main focus of the surfing activity around Christchurch, with other popular beaches being Waimairi, North and South Brighton.

Wine Tasting

The Canterbury region does more than just hold its own against the other popular wine-growing regions of New Zealand, and there are some truly classic East-Coast wines to be tasted in the region. The principal area is Waipara, about an hour north of Christchurch, home to several wineries.

Hot Stuff!

An opportunity to soothe those aching muscles after an adventurous Active Adventures New Zealand trip, by visiting this world-renowned spa resort in Hanmer Springs!

Other Things to do in Christchurch

  • Ride on a tram through the city streets or ride the gondola.
  • Go hot air ballooning.
  • Visit a local horse breeding/stud farm.
  • Go on a cycle tour or just hire a top class road bike to ride around the Port Hills or to the beach at Sumner.
  • Play golf on one of the nearby internationally-rated courses.
  • Hit the slopes! In winter (June-September), it's an easy drive over to the popular Mt Hutt ski area. Read more about skiing in New Zealand.


The major Christchurch earthquakes of September 2010 and February 2011 have had a profound effect on Christchurch’s cityscape. The central business district (CBD) is still closed whilst demolition and strengthening work continues and damage to roads, buildings, fences and other structures is still quite evident when driving around the city. But it isn’t all doom and gloom.

Now that the CBD is virtually a blank canvas, Christchurch has a unique opportunity to transform itself into a city of the future and that’s where the focus is now. In terms of accommodation, there are still many options outside of the CBD that offer plenty of amenities and attractions, such as in the suburbs of Sumner or Papanui. A few places that we suggest visiting include:

Heartland Hotel Cotswold
Chateau on the Park
Best Western Camelot
Merivale Manor Hotel
The Ashford Motor Lodge
The Colonial Inn Motel

Hotels Near Christchurch Airport

Sudima Hotel Christchurch Airport
Airport Gateway Motor Lodge
Commodore Hotel

If you'd like to spend some time exploring Christchurch, the following trips start and/or end in Christchurch:
Rimu14 day South Island adventure trip
Manuka14 day South Island hiking trip
Tui8 day South Island adventure trip
Winter Rimu14 day South Island adventure trip
Kea Family13 day South Island family trip

Trip Reviews

  •   4.38 out of 5 (from 1211 reviews)

    Great trip with fun and knowledgable guides. Accommodations and food were great.

    David Brodie Review Image
    – Washington, United States
    Kauri, April 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4983 reviews)

    Exceeded Expectations

    In planning my trip to New Zealand I specifically signed on to the Rimu trip to achieve 3 goals: first to see as much of the South Island as possible in 2 weeks, second to get outdoors and get a feel for the environment and third to have fun with a group of people. My Rimu experience accomplished all three goals and then some. The mixture of driving, and daily activities was perfect. It allowed us to cover lots of terrain while getting us out and active every day. Our guides, Ben and Emma, were terrific. They were tireless workers who not only made us comfortable but created a positive group dynamic that helped bring complete strangers together into a cohesive group. Ben was great at sharing his knowledge of NZ culture and natural history. Emma was a fantastic cook who kept us well fed even at a hut at 1300 meters. Everything about the trip was well organized and well planned. Thank you for such a great experience.
    Tim Reed Review Image
    – Massachusetts, United States
    Rimu, January 2018
  •   4.60 out of 5 (from 1887 reviews)

    Worth every penny!

    This was an amazing trip - highly recommended! Our guides, Koru and Liana, were great - kept us moving and active in all kinds of weather and conditions. Some of the planned tour had to be modified due to weather - it does rain a lot - but no regrets at all. We got a taste of New Zealand on beautiful days, rainy days, and once in rain, sleet and hurricane force winds, but we were always well cared for and felt like we'd seen New Zealand in all of it's majesty. The hiking was strenuous enough to feel like a challenge and leave us tired and a bit sore most days, but never too difficult. The Siberia Valley part of the trip was just spectacular! Koru's knowledge of New Zealand's native plants and animals, history, Maori heritage, and Lord of the Rings stories were particularly fascinating. Would love to go again!
    Bob Martin Review Image
    – South Carolina, United States
    Tui, December 2016
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4983 reviews)

    Southbound Rimu trip

    After being on a Galapagos trip I thought I knew what to expect! Galapagos was amazing too but this trip was an experience in itself!! Every hike was an adventure and the rewards for getting to the top were a treasure to be seen!! A huge thanks to Rachel and Gary for their knowledge and everything they did to make this trip incredible!
    Kathy Lomeli Review Image
    – Indiana, United States
    Rimu, March 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4983 reviews)

    Experience of a Lifetime!

    Active Adventures was an incredible trip. We had two excellent and knowledgeable guides that were a real team and complemented themselves very well--plus the meals they prepared were awesome. They REALLY made our trip special! There were so many new activities for me that I had never done before that I can't even pick a favorite--I loved them all. New Zealand is a beautiful country, and your well thought out itinerary certainly allowed us to see and experience it in unique ways--hiking, cycling, kayaking, wine tasting, etc. Celebrating my 66th birthday with champagne and fresh strawberries after hiking up Searly Tarn trail was a birthday I will truly never forget! Thank you Active Adventures!
    Stephanie Nelsen Review Image
    – Michigan, United States
    Rimu, November 2016



Why travel with Active Adventures?

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

Active Adventures Brochure
no thanks, i don't like free stuff
Get your FREE Brochure Now!
Active Adventures Brochure