Thursday, October 2, 2014

Hidden Gems for Families in Christchurch

With school holidays upon us here in Christchurch, the search is on for activities to do as a family, in order to keep the little ones entertained. Some of these are based in town, others require a little bit of travelling time, but all are activities or destinations that I regard as hidden gems in the Canterbury area. I have also included some activities for the adults, who may need some time to themselves!

With the cityscape constantly changing after the earthquakes, new and exciting places are popping up everywhere. There are also some tried and true places to visit that will keep both adults and children happy. Whether you live in Christchurch or are just visiting, I hope you find something that appeals to you.

Although a lot of these activities suggested are out of the immediate city, few are further than an hour's drive away and all are very well signposted. If you are a visitor to Christchurch, you can take advantage of a rental car and still see the sights that my city has to offer.  Public transport is also available, and many of my hidden gems feature walkways where you can also take buggies, bikes and scooters.

As I mentioned, Christchurch is undergoing massive changes, and so a definite area to check out is the Re:Start mall. This container shopping mall was brought about after the Christchurch earthquakes, and currently features over 50 businesses. Head there on the weekend and you may also find buskers, market stalls and coffee craftsmen.


If you are a resident of Christchurch or the greater Canterbury area, you can get into the Antarctic Centre for half price until the end of October. Even if you are visiting, this is an amazing experience for young and old, with the opportunity to meet penguins, ride a Hagglund or explore Antarctic history.

My two boys love pirates, and the Pirate's Island Aventure Golf is an amazing course. 18 holes of pirate themed mini golf awesomeness including pirate ships, waterfalls, treasure laden caves and even sharks! This golf course is amazingly well put together and well worth checking out.

During the school holidays, Tothills Mazes has a special Kiwiana Hunt and also discounted school holiday prices, 2 adults and up to 3 children $49 or 1 adult and up to 3 children $35. This wooden maze is fun for adults, challenging for kids, and a really good activity to get some active movement into your day. There is also a labyrinth to explore while the adults have a cup of coffee, and sports equipment is left out for anyone to enjoy. Weekends are generally a lot busier, so try and visit during the week if possible.

If you are wanting a day trip one weekend, the Art In A Garden showcase is on from October 30 to November 2nd. This event takes place in Hawarden, an hour's drive from Christchurch. This is a beautiful display, well suited for a walk around with children or as a day trip for a couple into gardening and art.

If you are feeling peckish, why not call in for a High Tea at The Tea House? They have amazing food and a fantastic play area outside for the kids. They also have delicious dinners for a romantic night out, or just call in for a cup of their fancy teas.

© The Tea House 2014. 

If you are wanting to take in the scenery and explore the outdoors, a visit to McLeans Island is always fun. You can walk around the numerous tracks and explore the area, or even
hire a bike and ride around the tracks.

Lastly, for those wanting a full day food and wine experience, I can highly recommend the wonderful North Canterbury Food and Wine trail. You can rent a car or take your own,  and explore the wine region of Waipara as well as Rangiora, Oxford and Hanmer Springs. If wine is your thing, this is a must do! I particularly recommend stopping in for a wine tasting at Pegasus Bay, as well as lunch at Pukeko Junction and a trip in to see Seagars at Oxford. Jo Seagar runs this wonderful cooking school and shop, and you might be lucky enough to run into her! I have featured her many times on my blog, as she is one of my foodie icons.

For my American readers, may I suggest to you that you have fun exploring the hidden gems in your own hometown? It does not have to cost an arm and a leg- you can save nearly half of the standard rate by using a service such as Turo (formerly RelayRides) a peer-to-peer sharing rental car company. Car owners can also take part by simply and safely renting out their cars. You can help others and the environment while enjoying the convenience of renting cars where they’re needed: right in your own neighborhood, at the airport, and everywhere in between.

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