Christchurch doesn’t identify itself as a beachy-city, but when the hot Canterbury sun comes out, Christchurch has easy access to a very long stretch of sandy coastline.
The central city doesn’t lap the shores of Christchurch, which means the beaches tend to adjoin wild areas to make for a great day of outdoor exploring.
Probably about as far north as we can go and still call it a city beach, Spencer Beach adjoins Spencer Park and Brooklands Lagoon, which you can explore via a one-hour return walk. To the south, the Southern Pegasus Bay Track gives you to the bike tracks of Bottle Lake Forest Park and connects through to New Brighton. Spencer Beach offers safe swimming between the flags near the Surf Life Saving Club in summer months. There’s also a holiday park if you want to stay longer and the Adrenalin Forest experience to push your limits with challenges that take you up to 20m in the air.
At the southern end of the Southern Pegasus Bay Track and Bottle Lake Forest Park is Waimari Beach, a popular surfing and kite surfing spot.
Head north and you’re sure to find a break from the crowds.
Across the road, Broad Park offers shady picnic spots and a large kids playground. The nearby Waimari Beach Golf Club is an 18-hole, par 72 course on 44 hectares.
New Brighton Beach
Not far from Waimari, New Brighton Beach is immediately recognisable by the 300m-long pier that breaks up this long, straight stretch of sandy coastline. New Brighton Beach has a playground and paddling pool right on the beach. It’s also within easy reach of the amenities of central New Brighton village. A new $8 million seaside playground is planned for New Brighton.
South of New Brighton, the Southshore Spit Reserve is popular for birdwatching. There is a 40-minute loop walk around the spit. The walk starts at Rockinghorse Road and wanders through the duneland to the estuary.
One of the city’s most bustling sea-side suburbs, Sumner Beach features the crumbled Castle Rock on the estuary side and Cave Rock in the middle.
A wide esplanade stretches from Cave Rock to the historic clock tower with a large playground and paddling pool beyond.
The beach has several surf breaks. Coffee, ice-cream, restaurants and even a little cinema make up the Sumner Village landscape.
The farthest of the city beaches, but well worth the drive. Taylor’s Mistake is over the hill from Sumner and is the most spectacular of the city’s beaches with its black sands and rugged cliffs. Taylor’s is Christchurch’s best surf beach and the tracks towards Godley Head are popular with walkers and joggers. Stop for picnic supplies in Sumner on the way – there are no shops at Taylor’s, only the occasional ice cream van.