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14 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch

Bernard Spragg. NZ

Free and cheap activities in Christchurch.

Christchurch is a must-visit destination when backpacking in New Zealand, there’s no doubt about it. With heaps of work opportunities for people on a working holiday visa, as well as artwork, gardens, beaches and lots more attractions throughout the city, most backpackers want to spend some time here. To help stick to your backpacker budget, we’ve put together this list of free things to do in Christchurch.

With a wealth of jobs, it can be an ideal place to spend some time on a working holiday. There are plenty of fun and interesting ways to spend time here without spending too much of your hard-earned cash. Learn about the real impact of the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes and see for yourself how the city is reviving.

For more information on the South Island’s largest city, take a look at Christchurch City – Guide for Backpackers.

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1. Go to one of the many markets

From arts and crafts to jams and jewellery, Christchurch hosts markets across the city all year round. Checking out the stalls while often listening to live music sure beats your supermarket shop. Check out the Christchurch’s Farmers Market at Riccarton House & Bush every Saturday 9am-1pm. For more markets, see our Cheap Eats in Christchurch.


2. Take a stroll through Hagley Park and the Botanic Gardens

Find out why they call Christchurch “The Garden City”. It seems like every time you walk through the gardens, there’s something new to discover. If grand water fountains are your thing – we don’t know if it’s anyone’s “thing” but this one is pretty cool – then you’ll love the restored peacock fountain found in Christchurch’s Botanic Gardens. Walking through the adjacent park and garden is a pretty and easygoing walk to take when hanging out with backpacking buddies.

Location: Just off Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch Central.


3. Get educated at the Canterbury Museum

A walk through Botanic Gardens will lead you to Canterbury Museum – the token attraction to visit if you are on a budget (or have no money at all as it is free). Learn about NZ history, art and the natural world.

Location: Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch Central


4. Quake City (NZ$20)

This museum gives visitors a deeper understanding of Christchurch’s recent history of the Canterbury Earthquakes. We recommend visiting Quake City early in your visit to Christchurch in order to put things into perspective.

Location: 299 Durham Street North, corner Armagh Street


5. Walk out to sea on New Brighton Pier

In fact, there are quite a few things to do in the New Brighton suburb. The beaches are popular for surfing and sunbathing – weather permitted, of course. Plus, a walk along Marine Parade offers shops and cafes. Find out more in 10 Free or Cheap Things To Do in New Brighton

Location: New Brighton


6. Go on the Bridle Path Walk

Who needs to pay for a gondola up the Port Hills when you have two working legs (and a tight wallet)? Remarkable views of Christchurch can be enjoyed from the Bridle Path walk, which is 3 hours return. The Bridle Path Walk starts just below the gondola. To get there without a car, Metro Bus number 28 takes you from Central Station to the Gondola base and through to Lyttelton.

Location: 10 Bridle Path Road, Heathcote Valley


7. Go to Quail Island

An NZ$25 return ferry will take you to Quail Island: where sights include shipwrecks and, errr, former leperocy colony and quarantine station. Not forgetting all the stunning beaches and bushwalks, of course!

Location: take the Ferry from Lyttleton Harbour.


8. Check out Brockworth Street Art Gallery.

Not like your average art gallery, Brockworth Street is an art gallery where brick walls are the canvas. This is just a taste of the amount of awesome street art there is to see in Christchurch.

Location: 23 Bartlett Street, Riccarton


9. Go to a free gig at the Darkroom

Generally running Thursday to Saturday nights, The Darkroom on St Asaph Street puts on free or cheap live music. From Jazz to comedy gigs and everything in between you can’t really predict what will be on at the Darkroom so if you are spending a bit of time in Christchurch, check them out and see if any event tickles your fancy.

Location: 336 St Asaph Street, Christchurch Central


10. See the 185 empty white chairs

As a memorial to those who lost their lives in the Canterbury Earthquakes, here are 185 empty white chairs covering 185 square metres of lawn. It makes for an interesting memorial worth checking out.

Location: 236 Cashel Street, Christchurch Central

11. Visit Sumner Beach

Take a bus or drive out to Sumner Beach, one of Christchurch’s suburbs. Stroll on the beach and delve into the caves and archways. Look out for interesting wildlife along the way too! It’s also a great place to grab fish and chips – the proper Kiwi way!

Location: Sumner Beach

12. Go to the Air Force Museum of New Zealand

Perhaps this only appeals to a certain taste, but why not see a range of awesome planes for free?! Check out the Air Force Museum of New Zealand right here in Christchurch. They also offer heaps of activities for under NZ$10.

Location: 45 Harvard Avenue, Wigram
Bernard Spragg. NZ

13. Grab some cheap eats

Every city has its set of eateries that won’t break the bank. Christchurch is just the same with cuisine from all over the world! Check out Sullivans Irish Pub for their famous burger and pint for NZ$20! Or, get more inspiration in our Cheap Eats in Christchurch.


14. catch a free festival

If you happen to be in Christchurch at the right time, you might just catch one of the free events and festivals that occur every single year. The World Buskers Festival is a popular one, with heaps to see throughout January. For more festivals and events, check out New Zealand Calendar: What’s going on? and Top New Zealand Events in 2018

Nicole Bratt

Now that you have done some free things to do in Christchurch …

… Check out these articles:

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