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Looking for some budget-friendly things to do with the kids? We’ve got some great ideas for free family activities around Christchurch – plus a few worth spending a bit on as well.
Go to a playground
If it’s a nice day and you’re looking for a place to let the kids run wild, your first stop should be the Margaret Mahy Playground. This spectacular spot is easily one of the greatest play areas in Christchurch, with awesome equipment such as the flying fox, four metre-wide slide, and heaps of things to climb on, crawl through and swing on. If heading to the central city isn’t convenient for you, there are plenty of other great playgrounds all around the city – try New Brighton, Scarborough Park or Craighead Reserve.
Go to a museum
Canterbury Museum has a whole bunch of activities that the kids will absolutely love, all free, and all inside where it’s warm and dry – bonus! Head to Discovery for a range of weird and wonderful things to explore, from digging for fossils to checking out live tarantulas! If you’re out Wigram ways, the Air Force Museum of New Zealand is definitely worth a visit – the kids will love getting to sit in the cockpit of real fighter jets and playing at being an aeroplane with the Balloon Busters interactive game.
Imagination Station at Tūranga
Let your kids discover their inner architect with the huge range of Lego at Tūranga, where six building tables and two building pits filled with all different kinds of Lego and Duplo offer endless creative possibilities. Reward yourself for thinking of such a great activity by grabbing a coffee at Foundation downstairs.
Go for a bike ride
Head out on a two-wheel family expedition and explore some of the many excellent bike paths in this extraordinarily cycle-friendly city. Try Te Ara Ōtākaro Avon River Trail, cycling through Hagley Park or the Botanic Gardens, or hop on the Sumner Esplanade for a nice ocean view with your journey. If you don’t have bikes, go for a family walk instead!
Go to the Christchurch Art Gallery
There’s plenty to delight your little artists at the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū. There are often interactive displays and sensory materials for the kids to get their hands on, as well as a range of workshops and activities just for them – check out the Family and Kids Events section of the website to see what’s on.
This permanent exhibition about the Canterbury earthquakes has lots of interactive displays for the kids to get involved with. Children under 15 are free when accompanied by an adult, and $8 without an adult.
Halswell Miniature Trains
Taking a ride on one of these adorable mini trains costs only $2 per person, or you can grab 6 rides for $10. If you happen to be at the Halswell Domain on the second Sunday of the month, you’ll also catch some sweet model boat action on the lake!
Visit the toy library
It’s not only books you can borrow from a library – tap into the novelty of new toys without breaking the bank by rocking up to one of the great toy libraries in Christchurch and taking a few on-loan friends home for between $1and $5 each.
See and even play with cute animals at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, from native New Zealand birds and lizards to very cuddle-able farm animals. Tickets are $12 for kids aged 5-15, and $32.50 for adults.
Christchurch’s ultimate animal adventure, Orana Park is the place to see exotic animals like giraffes, lions, tigers, and New Zealand’s only gorillas! There’s also a playground for the kids to play on while you grab a hot drink and a snack. Entry is $36.50 for adults and $9.50 for kids aged 5-14. Children under 5 are free.