Canterbury, New Zealand
Family-friendly Activities

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Our most recommended Canterbury, New Zealand Family-friendly Activities

Christchurch Gondola Ride

1. Christchurch Gondola Ride

Take a ride on the Christchurch Gondola to see the beautiful Alpine scenery surrounding Christchurch city and suburbs. The gondola ride is 10-minutes each way at normal speed and each cable car stops to allow you to board and disembark safely.  Marvel at the Southern Alps to the west, and the Kaikoura Mountains to the north. To the south lies the beautiful harbor of Christchurch, and to the east is the Pacific Ocean. Enjoy 360-degree views of the plains, mountains, city, and harbor from the glass-enclosed gondola. At the summit, you can browse the souvenir shop or visit the cafe. Experience authentic Kiwi flavors as you take in the spectacular views. If you are feeling more energetic, explore one of the many walking trails like the hike to the Crater Rim. Travel back in time at the Time Tunnel experience to learn about the development of the region. The automated ride is a definite highlight with children and adults alike!

Christchurch: Orana Wildlife Park Admission

2. Christchurch: Orana Wildlife Park Admission

Experience the ultimate animal adventure at Orana Wildlife Park. Set in 80 hectares, within 15 minutes drive of Christchurch airport, Orana is New Zealand’s only open-range zoo. Discover over 400 animals, representing more than 70 species. Arrive at the park from 10 AM in the morning. Regular animal feed presentations occur daily, commencing at 10:45 AM, and are accompanied by a presentation from a wildlife guide. It is recommended to arrive at the park early and follow the presentation schedule which will lead you around the entire zoo. As you explore the grounds, enjoy a range of amazing wildlife experiences including hand-feeding the giraffes and meeting rhino up close. Stroll through the aviaries to observe kiwi, and other stunning native birds including kakariki, whio, tui, and mischievous kea. See a range of native reptiles and meet friendly domestic animals in the Farmyard area. Also, enjoy the antics of gorillas, tigers, cheetah, Tasmanian devils, monkeys, meerkats, and more. Either ride through the park on the complimentary Safari Shuttle, join a guided walkabout tour, and/or meander around the park at your own leisure. The park contains a children’s adventure playground, 2 large picnic areas, a café, and a wildlife-themed gift shop for you to explore at your own pace.

Christchurch International Antarctic Center Entry Tickets

3. Christchurch International Antarctic Center Entry Tickets

Embark on a journey through Antarctica without leaving Christchurch. Visit one of New Zealand's best tourist attractions, the International Antarctic Center. Visitors of all ages will enjoy an interactive, fun and exciting experience of Antarctica. Experience snow and ice, an Antarctic storm, take the polar plunge ice water challenge, learn about life in modern modern-day Antarctica and Scott Base, and hang out with Little Blue Penguins. Try the famously exciting Hagglund ride and an awesome simulated 4D cruise Ice Voyage. The entry ticket is the closest way to experience Antarctica, without mounting your own expedition. You can also enjoy a personalized commentary on your journey to Antarctica with an audio guide tour available in English, Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Thai, German, French, and Spanish.

Willowbank Wildlife Reserve Day Entry Ticket

4. Willowbank Wildlife Reserve Day Entry Ticket

Get up close and personal with New Zealand native wildlife at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. The wildlife park and nature reserve is located 5 minutes drive from Christchurch Airport and 20 minutes drive from Christchurch CBD. Set in a natural environment with a great variety of wildlife species, Willowbank is suitable for all ages. Learn about New Zealand's endangered wildlife and Willowbank's continuing involvement in conservation. Walk through the massive kea enclosure to meet the worlds only alpine parrot, check out the world's only living dinosaur (tuatara), one of the rarest birds in the world (takahe) and a rare bush parrot (kaka). Be sure to visit the specially constructed viewing facility where you are guaranteed to see kiwi with no glass to hinder your view! Relax at the onsite cafe and bar, before, during or after exploring the reserve. Take a break overlooking the deer paddock. During winter, enjoy the ambience of the roaring open fire! 

Arthur's Pass: TranzAlpine Train and Castle Hill Day Tour

5. Arthur's Pass: TranzAlpine Train and Castle Hill Day Tour

Experience the South Island's remarkable natural landscapes by taking a journey on a train from Christchurch to Arthur's Pass, which is considered one of the world's greatest train journeys for the scenery it passes. Enjoy breathtaking views of Canterbury Plains, Southern Alps, ice-fed Waimakariri River, lush beech forests, and stunning landscapes. Explore walking tracks in Arthur's Pass National Park with spectacular mountain views & pristine waterfalls. Capture mirror images at Lake Pearson & wander through the majestic limestone boulders at Castle Hill. A perfect day trip for nature lovers, hikers, and adventure seekers.

Tekapo: Indoor Māori Heritage and Astronomy Experience

6. Tekapo: Indoor Māori Heritage and Astronomy Experience

Delight in a Big Bang of awe and inspiration at the Dark Sky Experience, where science, tatai aroraki (Maori astronomy), and fascinating multimedia installations are brought together for a sensual treat. Change your outlook on the universe in the best way possible on this 45-minute guided tour. Enjoy your guide's thought-provoking, educational, and entertaining commentary at this truly unique place. During your tour, get up close to the newly-restored Brashear telescope, one of the world's most famous Victorian telescopes. A must-do for all visitors to Lake Tekapo, this immersive daytime experience is a place for people to connect, to discover, and to be inspired, with the aim of empowering others to make a difference to dark sky preservation.

Franz Josef Glacier: 2-Hour Scenic Lake Mapourika Cruise

7. Franz Josef Glacier: 2-Hour Scenic Lake Mapourika Cruise

Soak up panoramic views of the Southern Alps and glaciers reflecting on the mirror-like waters of Lake Mapourika on this 2-hour scenic cruise. The lake was created by the Franz Josef Glacier as it retreated 14,000 years ago and now sits calm and reflective between the Southern Alps and the sea. Meet your experienced skipper and small group at the office in Franz Josef and take a complimentary transfer out to Lake Mapourika. Board the boat, then sit back and relax onboard the Hanna-k in the comfortable enclosed cabin or on the covered back deck. Your skipper will take you through to the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary on the far shorelines of the lake and will help you spot New Zealand's native birds. Enjoy informative commentary and fascinating stories as you cruise past untouched Jurassic rainforest and 900-year-old Kahikatea trees. Sip on a cup of complimentary tea or coffee as you unwind in beautiful Glacier Country, a picture perfect way to escape the crowds and enjoy the West Coast’s scenery.

Kaikoura: 30-Minute Whale Watching Helicopter Tour

8. Kaikoura: 30-Minute Whale Watching Helicopter Tour

Soar above Kaikoura on a whale watching flight and enjoy the marine wonders of this stunning area. Focusing on the sperm whales that are prevalent year-round, during the 30-minute flight your pilot will position the helicopter for the perfect view of these mighty creatures. See a whale in its entirety from tip to tail, and take in incredible photos as you fly past some of New Zealand's most beautiful coastline. Marvel at a diverse variety of marine life from humpback, southern right, and blue whales to playful dolphins and New Zealand fur seals. Your headset will keep you in constant contact with your pilot who will showcase some of the spectacular scenery and wildlife. Admire rugged coastline, enjoy the views, and look out for other wildlife.

Queenstown: Mount Cook Premium Guided Day Tour

9. Queenstown: Mount Cook Premium Guided Day Tour

The day begins with early morning pickup from your accommodation in Queenstown and heads through the heart of the South Island towards New Zealand’s tallest peak, Aoraki Mount Cook. Along the way, soak up unforgettable scenic views and stop at the Cromwell Fruit Bowl, Lindis Pass, Omarama, and Lake Pukaki. As you travel, listen to your guide’s fascinating commentary about the local scenery, history, and culture. Arrive at Mount Cook Village and spend 3.5 hours exploring. Choose to take a walk to the impressive Lake Mueller for a close-up look at Mount Sefton’s glaciers, or experience the incredible activities on offer at Mount Cook. On the return journey to Queenstown, enjoy a stop at the Twizel Salmon Farm, before arriving back to the city in the early evening.

Kaikoura: Guided Family Kayaking Adventure

10. Kaikoura: Guided Family Kayaking Adventure

Hop into a kayak and paddle around the beautiful coastal waters of New Zealand for up to 2 hours. Take in the unique landscapes as you go or enjoy the thrill of getting right up close to New Zealand's unique marine life. Spot the curious fur seals swimming and diverse range of birds, fish, and more. Listen to a short briefing explaining how to gear up, paddle, and steer your kayak. Then with full confidence, embark on this adventure. The highly stable sea kayaks allow children to safely enjoy the kayaking experience with an adult paddling right behind them. Professional, qualified guides will remain close to you throughout the kayaking time. Take photos of the amazing mountainous region around you, absorb the sheer sublime rocks, and meet some playful New Zealand Fur Seals.

Frequently asked questions about Canterbury, New Zealand Family-friendly Activities

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Other Sightseeing Options in Canterbury, New Zealand

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What people are saying about Canterbury, New Zealand

It was a fantastic tour with the pilot - sorry forgot his name. He is very good at flying and very friendly. We saw the huge whale, which is approximately the same length with the 23m boat, and heaps of dusk dolphins, and the pilot knew the whale so well and counted-down the exact time when it dived into deep water with iconic tail. The pilot also flew us to see the Kaikoura Earth-Quake fault-line, landslide and even the barrier lake. Really enjoy it. Thanks.

Such a great day out was lovely myself (mum) and little miss (4yo) on a Wednesday as it wasn't that busy the staff are very approachable and informative we got a good look at all the animals and we got to see the cheaters as they sometimes are hard to see which was amazing bring on the day you can watch the lions eat up close and we will be back in a heart beat. ❤️

Outstanding! On a perfect day we enjoyed the cruise and beauty of Lake Mapourika while learning of its history and natural surroundings. Magnificent views of the mountains and glaciers were mirrored in the serene waters. Jake was interesting and informative. Just do it! A photo album of wonderful memories.

Really enjoyed with family. Cooked bbq on site very conveniently and kids was overwhelmed with play ground and mini bus ride. Very interesting and educational watching all the animals.

Totally loved it …interactive lots of animals we hadn’t seen before like kea… we had an awesome time and would definitely recommend.