Looking for somewhere to go on an outing? We used to run a feature in our print edition called Going Places, which lists a variety of parks, walks, tracks, swimming pools and destinations that are great for family outings. Now its available here on our website. However, it may pay to double check the availability of the destination before making the trip, because we no longer check the listings regularly.
Bike riding: Always a favourite in Christchurch. Cycle in North Hagley Park or along the Esplanade in Sumner. Take your BMX bike to Crosbie Park on Apsley Drive, Flay Park on Grahams Rd. or Craighead reserve in Northcote Rd. There is also a track in Hall St, Kaiapoi. Remember to wear a helmet!
Mountain biking: More strenuous, but a good way to get fit. The Port Hills offer a great range of different tracks, including one at Godley Head. To get there, starting from Sumner, head up Wakefield Avenue and Evans Pass Road, turn left onto Godley Head Road. After the cattle stop you can depart from the tarseal. Hop onto the track above the road to Breeze Col. From Breeze Col you can do a loop track passing through the car park at Godley Head, and coming back around the hill. Once back at Breeze Col, you can return by road or bike down the track to Taylors Mistake. Some mountain bike tracks are currently closed, check the council website www.ccc.govt.nz for updates.
Westburn Reserve – Learn to Cycle Area: The Learn to Cycle area is a fun way to learn the basics of road safety. Complete with roundabouts, a one lane bridge, S-bends and a railway crossing, the area has road signage to recreate a roading network. A great place to teach the little ones how to be smart on our roads. Westburn Tce, Burnside.
Mini Golf: There are several places to go for this exciting family activity. Try McDuffs on Steadman Rd, Pirates Island on Roydvale Ave, Wild West in Sockburn, or Caddy Shack City in Woolston.
Petanque: An exciting activity for the whole family to enjoy on a lovely warm day. Choose from seven petanque courts around Christchurch. Take your petanque balls to places such as Halswell Quarry Reserve in Kennedys Bush Rd on the way to Akaroa, or McCormacks Bay Reserve in McCormacks Bay Rd. If you want to play in the city, go to Lake Victoria in North Hagley Park.
Skateboarding: There are about 15 skateboard parks throughout Christchurch. Find them in places such as Linwood Park in Aldwins Rd, Hoon Hay Park in Mathers Rd, or in Templeton Domain in Kirk Rd, Templeton. There’s also Washington Reserve on Moorhouse Ave and the Jellie Park skateboard area in Greers Rd.
Ferrymead Heritage Park: Take a steam train or a tram ride from a small railway station into the historic village. Visit the restored buildings and attractions such as the working bakery, a rural museum and Harrington’s Cooperage. There are places to buy food and gifts. Several toilets are situated throughout the park. Easy terrain for pushchairs although some buildings do have steps. 269 Bridle Path Rd, Ferrymead. Ph. 384 1970. Entry fee applies.
New Brighton Pier and Library: A very popular destination, especially on a sunny day. Take a jacket if it is windy and wander along the Pier. You get a great views out to sea as well as of New Brighton and other places, and can watch the fishermen bringing in their catch. Bikes and skateboards are not allowed, but it is a good place to walk a pram. The library at the end of the pier makes a nice place to relax and enjoy the fabulous view. There is also a paddling pool in the adjacent playground. Toilets on site. Catch the no. 5 bus. If you go by car, there is plenty of parking near the library.
Feed the ducks: How about taking some bread along to feed the ducks in the Avon River? The River winds its way around the north end of Hagley Park then meanders through the city. There are benches on the riverbanks where families can enjoy a sunny day and watch the world go by.
Boating on the Avon: Very relaxing on a fine day! Hire a canoe or paddleboat at the Antigua Boatsheds then stop at the nearby café for refreshments. Open daily.
Tennis Courts: Many of the City Council parks have tennis facilities. Take rackets and a ball and enjoy the fresh air. Good for a warm summer’s evening or even on a fine winter’s day. Try Avondale Park on Woolley St, Jeffreys Reserve, or Hillsborough Park. Further out you can go to Spencer Park or Templeton Domain.
Christchurch Gondola: View Christchurch, Canterbury Plains and Lyttelton Harbour from 500m above sea level and visit the Time Tunnel. Located in the Heathcote Valley. Family concessions available; children under five free. Open all year. Tel. (03) 384 0700. While there, take a walk along the Summit Walkway. The gondola is currently closed, please check their website for updates.
The Orbiter: Travel around the suburbs for a small price. This is a relaxing way to avoid the city centre and do some sightseeing along the way. The Orbiter travels between Northlands Mall, Princess Margaret Hospital, The Palms Shopping Centre and other malls as well. Children under five free.
Amaze’n Stuff: The unique Halswell maize maze which changes every year. Activities for the whole family. Family and student concessions available. Enquiries 349 5020.
Model Engineering: Canterbury Society of Model and Experimental Engineers run their models on the first and third Sundays of each month (subject to weather), from 1pm-4pm. View locomotives, traction engines and sailing model boats. Halswell Domain, off Halswell Rd. Very small charge for rides.
Botanic Gardens: One of the city’s top attractions in all seasons. Stroll along the Avon River, enjoy a picnic lunch, and take the littlies to enjoy the playground facilities. During summer there’s a paddling pool too. Older children will enjoy the freedom and space. The Gardens offer a range of areas to visit from the Rose Garden to the Rock Garden, with New Zealand natives and exotics. There are some interesting trees as well, many of which are over 100 years old. The Botanic Gardens have interesting activities throughout the year, including during winter. Free parking in the car parks.
Conservatory Complex: Situated within the Botanic Gardens, this complex is an interesting place for the family to visit. Cunningham House is the largest in the complex, with a humid atmosphere and jungle-like vegetation. Go through to Townend House, a cool greenhouse with its colourful array of flowers, then to Garrick House, where cacti are kept. Fern House, behind Townend House, is like taking a trip in the New Zealand bush, complete with little waterfall. Foweraker House displays indigenous and exotic alpine plants, and Gilpin House is the venue for 300 species of succulents. The complex is close to the children’s playground, and in front of the rose garden. Signposts within the Gardens will direct you if you are unsure. Open from 10.15am. Ph. 366 1701. The Conservatory is currently closed, please check their website for details.
Sailboats on Lake Victoria: Weather dependent. Radio controlled model sailboats provide an interesting spectator sport for all ages. Most have been handmade by their owner-operators who are members of the Christchurch Model Yacht Club. Lake Victoria is in North Hagley Park, with parking available. View the model yachts on Wednesdays from around 10am-3pm and on Saturdays from 1pm.
Fire Fighters Reserve: Madras St, off the Oxford Terrace bridge, outside the Kilmore St fire station. Features an artwork sculpted in steel from the World Trade Centre to acknowledge the work of firefighters worldwide.
Lyttelton – Cass Bay Walk: A one-hour return walk which takes in beaches and playgrounds, with spectacular views along the way of the harbour, Quail Island and Charteris Bay. Start at the Canterbury Yacht Club by the wharf area, go through the steel gates and follow the path. A wide, well-formed track, more suited to buggies than pushchairs, follows the coastline well above the shore. Along the way there is shade from some pine trees. The walk passes through Corsair Bay, a popular swimming and picnic spot with a children’s playground, and then continues on to Cass Bay. This second part of the track is longer, narrower and steep in a few places – a little difficult to negotiate a buggy. Once you reach Cass Bay you can return along the same track back to the Canterbury Yacht Club. Exploring the wharf area is another option, although there are areas of no admittance and little ones would need close supervision.
Nicholson Park: Situated on the grassy slopes of Scarborough Heads on Taylors Mistake Rd, this makes for a nice change of scenery. Playground equipment, picnic tables, toilets and shelter. Lovely views.
Orton Bradley Park: Situated about 40 minutes from Christchurch, next to Charteris Bay. Drive through Lyttelton, or go over the Port Hills past Governors Bay and continue around the harbour. The park is very large in a sheltered north-facing valley, from the seashore to the lower slopes of Mt Herbert. There are a lot of different grassy picnic areas with some BBQ sites. A stream runs through the park and mature trees provide plenty of shady spots. There is a variety of walks, such as the buggy-friendly short rhododendron walk, or a day hike up Mt Herbert, with others which take from half an hour to three hours. Plenty of attractions for the whole family! Admission fee applies.
Quail Island: Take the ferry from Lyttelton Harbour to this former leper colony and quarantine station. There are two walking circuits. The first one, around the island, takes 1.5 hours, and the other, a shorter circuit, takes 45 minutes. Both walks are on wide grassy tracks which are steep in places; suitable however for walking children and a baby in a backpack. The Visitors’ Centre has displays of flora, fauna and sealife. Points of historical interest on the island include a ship’s graveyard, old reservoir, rock formations, and lepers’ graves. The beach area is great for swimming and picnicking. Take your own drinking water as this is not available on the island. The Quail Island service, run by Black Cat, leaves from B Jetty in the centre of the Lyttelton Port. Phone the Black Cat office on 328 9078 or fax 328 8699. There is a charge for the ferry.
Lyttelton Historical Museum: Gladstone Quay. All aspects of Lyttelton history. Four galleries show models and photos of colonial, time and Antarctic relics. Wheelchair access, guided tours and brochures. Open Tue, Thur, Sat and Sun 2pm-4pm. Free admission. Ph. 328 8972. The Museum is currently closed, please check their website for updates.
Lyttelton Tug: Harbour cruises on Sundays during summer (Sept-June), from 2.30pm-4pm. Departs from No.2 Wharf. Full commentary on history and places of interest. Souvenir shop and cafeteria available. A fare is charged. Ph. 322 8911.
Torpedo Boat Museum: The museum holds parts of the Thornycroft Torpedo Boat, which was decommissioned around 1900. In 1999 it was located and taken the museum, just a couple of minutes walk from the Naval Point Yacht Club. To find it, turn right out of the Lyttelton tunnel and follow the signs down to Magazine Bay and the Yacht Club. The Yacht Club is at the end of the road in Magazine Bay, as far right as you can go. Parking is free around the Yacht Club. From there walk along the gravel track up and over to the next bay. The bay is safe for children, with sand, rock pools and picnic areas. A lovely place for a sunny afternoon. The museum is open regularly for short periods. A very small entry fee applies.
Sumner Beach: Sumner Beach is where everyone goes to the sandy beach and rock pools so plenty for little ones to discover. The Esplanade runs from Cave Rock to the bottom of Scarborough Hill, approximately one kilometre, and is great for cycling or walking – safe and easy. There are few walks that compare with this and it is only 20 minutes from the centre of Christchurch.
Willowbank Wildlife Reserve: Experience New Zealand wildlife and feed the farm animals too. Open daily from 10am. Picnic areas and a café on site. Admission fees apply, with student and family passes available. Hussey Rd, Harewood. Tel. 359 6226.
Orana Wildlife Park: New Zealand’s largest wildlife and conservation centre and open range zoo. There are over 400 animals to see, including giraffe, cheetah and lions, as well as our native species such as kiwi. Wildlife commentary provided in the complimentary safari shuttle. Open daily 10am-5pm. Admission fee applies, with student and family concessions. McLeans Island Rd, Harewood. Tel. 359 7109.
Birdlings Flat: Fill up the Thermos flask, pack a picnic, and take some warm and waterproof clothes! This wide beach is not a beach for swimming, but the variety of stones that form the beach in all colours and sizes is fascinating. This would be a challenge for those new to walking, but it is still fun to sit and sort stones or watch the sea. For non-walkers is backpack or mountain buggy terrain. Birdlings Flat is about 30km along the main road to Akaroa, past Tai Tapu. The turn off is well sign-posted – just follow the road. No shop although there is a portable toilet.
Birdlands Sanctuary, Okuti Valley, Little River: Unspoilt natural New Zealand at its best – a great day out for the family. There are picnic areas and BBQ sites with a shop. The sanctuary, with its peafowl, hens and ducks, is wheelchair accessible. Little River is on the road to Akaroa.
Little River Rail Trail: Cycle along one of Canterbury’s most historic railway lines, past Lake Ellesmere with its interesting bird life. The first section, from Motukarara to Birdlings Flat, opened in May 2006 and is 20km long. Eventually the Trail will run from the city to Little River. View the website at www.littleriverrailtrail.co.nz.
Okains Bay Maori and Colonial Museum: Great for kids! Visit a working blacksmith shop, a slab cottage and horse-drawn gigs. The Maori meeting house on site shows carving by master carver John Rua and the Maori artefact building houses rare items such as an 1867 waka, some valuable greenstone, and a “godstick” from 1400. North-east side of Banks Peninsula, 83km from Christchurch off Highway 75. Open daily. Ph. (03) 304 8611, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Activities around Canterbury
Arthur’s Pass National Park: Put on your boots and go tramping! There are plenty of walks in this area, many of them suitable for families. Information, maps and displays are available at the Arthur’s Pass Visitor Centre in the village. Ph. (03) 318 9211, fax (03) 318 9210, or email email@example.com. Take sunblock and hats with warm clothing and raincoats. Don’t forget snacks and drinks! Remember to check the weather forecast before you set out.
Craigieburn Conservation Park: About 110km from Christchurch, signposted on Highway 73 towards Arthur’s Pass. Enjoy the beautiful rivers, valleys and mountains. The Park has picnic sites and camping areas and an Environmental Education Centre. Short walks range from 20 minutes to 3-4 hours. Mountain biking is allowed in some areas. Contact the Arthur’s Pass Visitor Centre – details above.
Oxford Craft Market: New crafts made by local and surrounding artists. If you are out Oxford way, the market is held on the first Sunday of every month from 11am-4pm. No entrance fee. Venue: Oxford Town Hall. Ph. (03) 312 4240.
Oxford Speedway: Meetings are held every month. A small entry fee is charged; children under 15 free when accompanied by an adult. Carlton Rd, off South Eyre Rd. Follow signs from Tram Rd. Web address: http://www.oxfordspeedway.co.nz/.
Hanmer Springs Forest: The indigenous forest with native shrubs and native and introduced birds make this forest very popular with visitors. Information and maps are available from the Hurunui Visitor Information Centre at the Thermal Pools. Ph. (03) 315 7128, call free 0800 733 426, or fax (03) 315 7658. The park is administered by the Department of Conservation.
Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools: Relax in the hot pools at Hanmer after a day spent tramping and cycling in this beautiful area. Twice voted Best Visitor Attraction. Open daily. Check their website http://www.hanmersprings.co.nz/ for more information, or free phone 0800 442 663.
In the City
Canterbury Museum: Experience the Christchurch of yesterday by taking a stroll through the recreated Christchurch street at the museum. Children will be particularly interested in the hands-on Discovery section on the second level – a great place to learn about our world. The museum is handy to the Botanic Gardens on Rolleston Ave, a few blocks from the Square. Open every day except Christmas. Free entry although a small fee is charged for the Discovery section. Ph. 366 5000.
North Hagley Park: There’s just so much to do in this wonderful park! Let the little ones take a bike and ride around the perimeter while their parents run or jog along the exercise circuit. Or search out your old tennis racquets and have a family tennis match on the courts (hard courts next to Victoria Lake) which are free to the public and open all year round. Take along some sausages for lunch and fire up a gas barbecue by the courts for a small operating fee. Afterwards, enjoy a leisurely stroll along the tree-lined paths. Parking is available within the grounds.
Christchurch Airport: What fun it is to see the planes take off and guess their destinations! Go upstairs at the Air New Zealand terminal to view the runway, watch planes land, and see baggage being loaded. There’s a play area on the first floor and a food court. An excellent display area downstairs offers information on various attractions, places to stay, and a selection of maps – useful for visitors and locals. Pay parking is available.
International Antarctic Centre: Twice voted the best attraction in New Zealand, it is a fantastic experience for everyone. Learn about life in Antarctica, play in the cold room with real snow, experience the wind chill factor machine, and have a ride in a Hagglund. Different admission prices apply. Concessions available. Wheelchair accessible. Open daily, including Christmas Day, from 9am. Ph. 353 7798; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ice Skating: Just the energetic activity to warm you up. The Alpine Ice Sports Centre in Brougham Street is open every day. Family passes and group discounts are available; session times vary. A cafeteria is on site for a cup of coffee or for full meals.
Air Force Museum: Fascinating displays and information, hangar tours and plenty of programmes for children from kindergarten age. Pre-schoolers free; family and student rates available. Open daily except Christmas Day.
Preschool Sessions, Christchurch City Libraries: Baby time, story time, music and movement – perfect for mother and child. Sessions last about 30 minutes and are held regularly during school terms. There’s sure to be a group at your local library. Contact your local library or check the website at http://library.christchurch.org.nz/Events/Children/.
Archery: AimTru indoor archery range is in Mowbray Street. Call ahead and book a lane.
Teddy Bear’s Tango: Dance to music from around the world. Fridays 10-11am. Small fee payable. St Stephen’s Community Centre, 365A Ilam Rd. Enquiries: email Mary Jo at email@example.com.
Play Areas, Reserves and Picnic Spots
Abberley Park: Follow the pebbled path past the toilet block and through to the other side, where children will be delighted to find a ‘secret garden’ with a small maze of grassy paths. A few metres further along the path adventurers will be rewarded with another quality playground, and paddling pool for the summer months. This park is especially sheltered with many places to explore within the boundaries of this compact area. An ideal place for children to play. Parking adjacent to the park on Abberley Crescent. Bus: No. 4 will take you to the corner of Edgeware Road and Colombo Street. It’s just a short walk, a couple of blocks, to the park.
Avebury Park: Evelyn Couzins Ave, Richmond. English-style park with trees such as elm, oak and lime. Paddling pool and children’s play area with equipment including slides and a swing.
Bottle Lake Forest: Bottle Lake Forest is an exotic pine forest of approximately 800 hectares and is a lovely place for a walk on a hot or windy day, as the tracks are almost entirely in the shade. There are great mountain bike tracks which attract cyclists of all ages. The beach is close by. Pick up a pamphlet at the visitor centre. Plenty of free parking. Travel east along Prestons Rd, turn into Alpine View and follow the road. The car park is off Waitikiri Drive.
Broad Park: North of New Brighton where Broad Rd meets Beach Rd. Picnic tables, adventure course with a flying fox, children’s play area with see-saw, slides and swing. Toilet available. Short walk to Waimairi Beach and access to Southern Pegasus Bay Track.
Brooklands Lagoon Walk: Please do not take your pet with you – this wildlife zone is important for migratory birds. The Lagoon Walk along the western side will take you to a bird hide where you can view the many different bird species. You can then follow the walk to Brooklands settlement, a 3-4 hour return. North of Spencer Park.
Edmonds Factory Garden: Ferry Rd. Features an oval garden, a rose garden, a lily pond and a stream. Toilet available.
Elmwood Park: Large recreational area with tennis and croquet clubs, playing fields and playground. Main car entrance at tennis club end of park, but if just visiting the playground then park on Heaton St. Bright new equipment in a lovely setting with mature shade-providing trees on perimeter. Play structures for both pre-schoolers and older children with bark underfoot. Also a netball hoop, maypole and huge slide for the more adventurous. Nice picnic spot – no tables but there is a lawn area where you could put down a rug. Stream boundary (no fence) adds to beauty of the place. Follow gravel road to the toilets just around from playground. Heaton St, Merivale.
Halswell Quarry: The quarry amphitheatre area makes a great destination in itself, with a small lake at one end, and picnic tables scattered around. It’s a great place for kicking a ball about. Up above, around the rim, is a well maintained and easy-to-follow track, which provides fantastic vistas of the surroundings as far as the Southern Alps. Adjacent to the quarry is the Findlays Picnic area. The park is well serviced with toilets in the car park and at Findlays Picnic area. Kennedy’s Bush Road, Halswell.
Liffey Domain: Take Springs Rd south to Lincoln. Liffey Domain is in Liffey Terrace in the township. Two playgrounds for younger children. Picnic tables and benches are available. The Old Railway Bridge across the Liffey has been retained as a walkway and there is easy access to refreshments at the cafés and shops. You may also see the restored Lincoln Liffey Cottage, built in 1875 (open the first Sunday afternoon of each month).
Millbrook Reserve, Helmores Lane: Adjacent to Hagley Park, with a native bush walk. Contains two of the tallest trees in Christchurch – a cedar and a eucalyptus. Popular for riverside picnics.
Mona Vale: Beautiful reserve situated along the banks of the Avon River and a favourite with tourists. Off Fendalton Rd, Merivale (adjacent to railway crossing). Continue past the Elizabethan-style homestead and follow signs to car parks. Particularly stunning while the large rose garden is in full bloom. There is also an enclosed fernery with a little brook. Stroll around the gardens, or take a picnic. Plenty of ducks to feed, and during the summer months you can go punting on the Avon from just in front of the homestead. (Avon not fenced so close supervision of children recommended.) Morning and afternoon teas are served at the homestead. Toilets available.
Old School Reserve: Access from Major Hornbrook Rd or Canon Hill Rd, Mt Pleasant. A large reserve high up in the Mt Pleasant residential area. At the top is a playground with swings, a mini flying fox, two modern structures with slides, and climbing frames. Picnic tables and picnic spots are dotted throughout the reserve. A great place for the kids to run around in. Stunning views of the mountains and Estuary to enjoy and lots of established trees and natives. Toilets near the old schoolhouse.
Omahu Bush: Near Gibraltor Rock car park. A large block of native bush with many trees and birds. Walking tracks include Kirks Track and Prendergasts Track. Look out for Coopers Knob, the highest point of the Port Hills when you visit Omahu Bush.
Riccarton Bush: In the heart of Riccarton we find this last remnant from 300,000 years of floodplain forests on the plains, a delightful quiet area where the kids can work off all that energy. The Kahikatea loop track takes 20 – 30 minutes return. The track is partly board walked with displays of the bird and plant life along the way. All the tracks are pushchair and wheelchair friendly. Spot the abundant bird life and take a look at the native trees, some of which are labelled. Visit the 1843 Deans Cottage to see how the Scottish pioneers lived when they first settled in Christchurch. Riccarton House was built in 1856 and has been beautifully restored. There’s plenty of lawn space for a picnic and play around, and a café selling food and coffee. Parking available in the car park off Kahu Rd.
Scarborough Park: A wonderful place to play and/or picnic at the Scarborough end of the Sumner Esplanade. There are the usual playground attractions of swings, slides, a merry-go-round, climbing frame, see-saw, and also a small pool area for the summer months (this is more ideally suited to toddlers). Toilets and changing rooms are available. Take a picnic lunch.
Risingholme: Cholmondeley Ave, Opawa. Children’s playground, toilets and drinking fountain. Features native and introduced trees and a formal rose garden. The homestead was built in 1864.
South Brighton Park: Situated just off Estuary Road, across from Beatty St. From the entrance to the park, you can see a large wooden fort on a hill ahead. Great playing area for children with three large slides coming off at angles and a drawbridge connecting various parts of the fort. There’s a flying fox for older kids. Toilets available. If you return to the road and proceed towards the Estuary, the view is quite spectacular. Follow the track along the waterline and you will pass a few shaded picnic tables – great for summer.
Southshore Spit (Te Karoro Karoro): Marine Parade, at the southern limit of Brighton Beach. The Reserve has a balancing beam and playground equipment. Further in is a wilderness of sedge grass, dunes and shrubs. This is an important bird-nesting area. There is a walking track and several information panels outlining some of the plant and bird life at Spit Reserve.
Spencer Park: Everyone goes to Spencer Park! Adventure playground, flying fox, mini golf course and a small shop. What more could an energetic young family want? Spencer Park is always popular for outdoor activities. Facilities include barbecue, toilets and a tennis court. You can also visit the beach to run on the sand or get your toes wet in the ocean. Drive north along Marshlands Road and turn right before the Styx Bridge. Spencer Park is in Heyders Rd. Off-road parking available.
Styx Mill Reserve: Picnic at this pretty riverside reserve, or walk the circular gravel track (Hussey View Walkway) through native trees and along the Styx River. The walk is on flat, very easy terrain and is suitable for all ages and fitness levels. There is also a separate dog park, so this is a good outing for the whole family. On Hussey Rd, near Willowbank Wildlife Park.
The Groynes: There is a variety of activities to enjoy here in all seasons. Try one of the many walking tracks such as the Waimairi Walkway (5km return) and enjoy nature at its best. In summer, take the kids fishing at one of the Groynes’ fishing spots. A junior angler’s license is free up to the age of 12 years and can be obtained from the Fish and Game Council on Horatio St. There are also areas for picnicking, ball games or just relaxing in the sun. For hire are barbecue equipment, canoes and a variety of other fun water craft. Ph. 323 7609 for further details. Johns Rd, Harewood.
Thompsons Park: Open all hours. Facilities include toilets, seats and picnic areas, large parks for ball games etc, flying fox, skateboard ramp area and adventure playground. There is wheelchair access to most areas. Buses run from the Square to North Beach, a one minute walk from North Beach Surf Club.
Travis Wetland: This is a Nature Heritage Park near QEII and the habitat for a huge amount of birds, fish, insects, reptiles, and amphibians. To enhance viewing of this unique ecosystem, walkways and viewing areas have been developed. If you haven’t visited the wetland before, start off by going in at the Beach Road entrance, off Frosts Road. At the end of the road you’ll find an information kiosk and a small walk into the swamp area to a bird hide where you’ll be able to observe the wildlife. There are other walks around the perimeter of the wetland, complete with boardwalks to prevent damage to the fragile peaty soils.
Victoria Park: Room to kick a ball around, as well as play equipment with slide. Picnic tables are available. A number of walks start from here too. Drive to the Sign of the Takahe, Dyers Pass Rd and turn left, following the signposts.
Woodham Park: This park, opened in 1942, is one of Christchurch’s hidden secrets. The aviary houses doves, budgies, canaries and many others. Magnificent spreading trees surrounded by areas of flat lawn provide great scope for tree climbing. There is a well-fenced large paddling pool, a playground, swings and merry-go-round. Parents can rest on the park benches while the children are having a good time. A Christchurch City Council sign discourages ball games in this park and dogs are only permitted on a lead. Easy access for pushchairs and wheelchairs. In Woodham Road, Linwood, a short walk away from the corner of Gloucester St and Woodham Rd if you take Bus No. 29.
The Pioneer Leisure Centre: Also includes a leisure pool, spa pool and steam and sauna rooms, as well as a fitness centre with a variety of facilities and programmes available. The leisure pool here has all the features of Centennial but with the added attractions of a wave machine and fun water bikes. Pools and changing facilities in this complex are similar to those at Centennial. 75 Lyttelton St, Christchurch. Ph. 332 2676.
Jellie Park: There are a number of activities to entertain all members of the family at this versatile park. The pool complex has both indoor and outdoor pools and attention has been paid to providing a number of shady areas for bathers in the outdoor area. There is also a hydro-slide and dive pool outdoors. There is plenty of room in the park itself to picnic and kick a ball around, with a couple of playgrounds to keep the little ones happy. Jellie Park Aqualand, 295 Ilam Rd. Ph. 351 7055.
Curletts Reserve Walk: Set amongst maturing native tress and bush, this reserve is a hidden gem! Park in the small car park at the end of Templetons Rd, Hoon Hay. Cross the stile and follow the walkway posts into the reserve. The walk follows the Heathcote River with views of the Southern Alps along the way. Allow about 90 minutes and loop back through the reserve. Pushchairs are not recommended.
Estuary Wetlands Conservation Park Walk: From the information board at Ebbtide Street/Estuary Road this board walk takes you around the estuary to the Pleasant Point jetty overlooking the Huingi Manu Wildlife Reserve. Take a picnic and enjoy the surroundings. Continue along the estuary, past Raupo Bay and the shelter and across Bridge Street. Follow the track beside the estuary wetlands by Evans Way to Owles Terrace and finally Pages Road roundabout. It’s a great outing for a bit of bird spotting – look out for heron, shags, kingfishers, oyster catchers, and pukeko. This is not a buggy-friendly track but it’s fine for children to walk along. If you’re travelling by bus take the No. 5 from the city and get out at the last stop on Estuary Road. If driving, leave your car near the information board in Ebbtide St.
Heathcote Towpath Walk: A well-kept secret! Approximately one and a quarter hour walk along the salt marshes of the lower Heathcote River. The terrain is flat, mostly single path but unsealed and therefore more suited to a buggy than a pushchair. Information boards explain the history of the area and there is a viewing platform and bird hide. Gould Cres (off Ferry Rd), Woolston.
Pegasus Bay Walkway: The Pegasus Bay Walkway, a wide, sealed path along the banks of the Kaiapoi River, is just the place of children who love riding their bikes. Beginning where the MV Tuhoe is moored off Charles Street, the walkway easily follows the river through open, flat countryside, bordering on urban Kaiapoi. For those wanting greater adventure, the BMX track about 20 minutes along the way provides great entertainment and more challenging riding for the children. The walkway provides excellent terrain for pushing a buggy. Toilets are placed frequently along the way.
Amberley Beach: A pleasant 35-minute drive north of Christchurch off State Highway 1. A safe, sandy beach with lots of grassed, sheltered areas. There are picnic tables and tennis courts in the domain.
Purau: Enjoy a slow drive through Governors Bay, following the road through Diamond Harbour. Purau is just a few kilometres on. This is a lovely swimming bay, popular with families. Relax at the grassed picnic area and enjoy the view across the sea.
Taylors Mistake: From Sumner, head over Scarborough Heads and down the narrow, winding road to Taylors Mistake. A great beach, very popular on hot days. Lifeguards are on duty in summer. The Heritage Trail, Godley Walkway, and Taylors Mistake Walkway can all be started here. The Taylors Mistake Walkway is especially good for children, as it winds around to Boulder Bay.
Waikuku Beach: To get there, travel through Woodend, then turn right just before the Ashley River bridge and follow the signs. A safe, sandy beach, with lifeguards in the summer months. From the beach take a five minute walk over the sand dunes to one of two large domains with playground and paddling pool.
Woodend Beach: Great picnic area protected from the sea breeze by large trees. Huge stretch of sandy beach with safe swimming. The domain provides lots of space for games, and there is a playground and minigolf course adjacent. Travel north towards Woodend, turning right just before the Woodend Hotel.
Deans Bush Farmers Market: A variety of produce, barbecue lunches and entertainment in a beautiful setting make this a great day out for the whole family. Every Saturday from 10am-1pm, weather permitting. Parking in Kahu Rd and surrounds. Ph. 348 6190.
Lyttelton Farmers Market: Every Saturday, 10am-1pm. Held at Lyttelton Main School, Oxford St. Large variety of foods including vegetables, nuts, sausages, cakes and specialty breads. While in the town, follow the signs to the fresh fish market.
Merivale Village Market: St Albans Uniting Church, cnr. Papanui Rd and Rugby St. 9am-2pm on the second Saturday of every month. Unique high-quality crafts including baby and children’s wear, woodcarving and handpainted tiles. Visit the baker, woodcarver and dollmaker. Devonshire teas available. Families welcome. Enquiries contact Garth 341 3305.
QEII Rotary Market: QEII Park, Travis Rd, 9am-2pm every fine Saturday. Arts and crafts, local produce, and secondhand items.
Riccarton Rotary Market: Over 300 stalls with something for everyone. Very popular with gardeners. Meet friends, take a stroll, and have a lovely day out. Every Sunday from 9am-2pm, wet or fine. Ph. 339 0011.
St Albans Community Market: English Park, Cranford St. Well-known market offering a wide range of new and secondhand merchandise. Saturdays 9am-2pm. Ph. 339 0011.
New Brighton Market: New Brighton Mall. Held on the first Saturday of each month, 10am-3pm. Arts and crafts, furniture, homemade foods. Free entertainment including live bands and children’s shows, including a regular puppet show at 12.30pm. Held in the Activity Centre, 40 New Brighton Mall if wet. Children can have their own stall for $5 – book in advance. Ph. Mary McCammon 388 9920. Web address www.newbrighton.co.nz.
Pages Road Market: Pages Rd, by the Marae. Every Saturday from 9am-2pm. Experience a wide range of cultures and delicious food. Ph. John Peters 960 4260.