We've rounded up some ideas for family fun in and around Christchurch – guaranteed to keep the little ones entertained.
1. Imagination Station + Margaret Mahy Playground
If you have a LEGO fan in your crew, you’ll make them very happy with a stop at this cool indoor LEGO playground. Even adults have been known to get sucked into the construction of a giant purple space station. It can get full, and so there is a way to guarantee a spot by booking on their website. The centre also runs classes on robotics and stop-motion animation. Class ages vary. Kids over eight can attend with or without an adult (making this a cheap, fun babysitting option for older kids).
Then, run off some steam outdoors at the nearby Margaret Mahy playground. Named for one of New Zealand’s most iconic children’s authors, the playground was one of the first projects completed under the city’s post-quake recovery plan. It’s been celebrated by local and visiting parents every day since. There’s plenty to keep the little ones busy – trampolines, slides, flying foxes, water cannons, splash pads. There are coffee carts to keep adults fuelled plus a barbecue area if you want to turn your visit into a full-blown event. At dusk or after dark, the playground transforms into an even more exciting experience – great for an autumn evening run-about.
2. The Groynes
Not far from the airport, the Groynes is a recreational area named after the large concrete blocks that jut out into the Ōtukaikino Creek. The creek, which was cut off from the Waimakariri River during work in the 1930s, now forms several lakes and waterways through the park. It’s a great place for a family picnic.
On the weekends you can hire pedal boats, aqua bikes and canoes. Several times a year, the lakes are stocked with hundreds of salmon. And only kids are allowed to catch them!
3. Canterbury Museum
A moa cave, an old-fashioned bicycle and an antarctic skidoo are just a few of the exhibits that kids love to climb around on at the Canterbury Museum. There’s a chance to travel back in time to an early Christchurch Street and explore the age of dinosaurs and insects. Perfect for a rainy day or after a good run around the Botanic Gardens. Entry to the museum is free. Entry to the kid’s Discovery zone is $2 per person and has lots of hands-on learning for little ones.
Founded by the Willis family more than four decades ago, this New Zealand themed wildlife park is still owned and operated by the family.
See kiwi, kea, tuatara, tākahe and other native icons as well as introduced and exotic breeds. Native species conservation is one of the park’s goals.
Kids will get a thrill from animals eating right out of their hands. For parents, it’s a great way to kill two or three hours.
5. Botanic Gardens
Let them run in this stunning central city park. Feed the ducks, crank the water wheel sculpture, climb inside the secret pine tree, hit the playground and, in summer, the splash pool.
You can explore this area by water by hiring kayaks from the Antigua Boat Shed, or hire a puntsman to do the work for you. Small ones will beg you to jump on the caterpillar tour, so be ready with a good excuse if you’re not prepared to drop $20 per head.