Explore Nature in Christchurch for Free

One of the wonderful things to come across when visiting another country or another city, is the beautiful places you can experience for free.

New Zealand is lucky to have many locations like this around the country, often administered and maintained by our Department of Conservation (DoC) or by local councils.

In Christchurch, you can explore the beaches; walk, run or cycle around much of the Port Hills and enjoy the more landscaped surroundings of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and The Groynes.

sumner beach Christchurch

Christchurch Botanic Gardens, Rolleston Avenue

Open year round, but with longer hours for the summer months as per the table below, this is really the jewel in the crown of central Christchurch.

Date Gate closing times
November to February 9:00pm
March 8.30pm
April to September 6.30pm
October 8.30pm

Wide walkways through the main areas of the gardens make for easy access, and enable the ‘caterpillar’ transport to take visitors on a guided tour if you prefer to ride rather than walk.

Off to the sides of the main paths are plenty of smaller paths to enable you to explore the different areas of planting, including the New Zealand Icon Garden which features New Zealand native plants, the Rose Garden and then the tropical conservatory which dates back to Victorian times.

botanic gardens nz icon garden

The gardens also feature a large playground and paddling pool for families to enjoy, and special areas set up for weddings.

botanic gardens bridge christchurch

You can relax over some food in the Ilex Cafe or the Lucky Duck cafe for takeaway picnic food, coffee and ice creams in the refurbished Gardens Tea Kiosk building.

The Groynes, Johns Road

If you have your own transport, plan a day of picnicking and having fun at The Groynes, located off Johns Road near the motorway that runs from the North of the city towards the airport.

The Groynes Christchurch

The Groynes takes its name from the large concrete filled wool sack blocks that were placed in the Otukaikino Creek during the 1930s.

These groynes were created to separate the creek from the main branch of the Waimakariri river for flood protection. An area prone to flooding, native vegetation was already limited due to repeat natural events but farming and urban development had caused indigenous flora to all but disappear from the area and the water quality to decrease significantly.

Since the early 2000s, efforts have been made to restore the Otukaikino River that runs through the Groynes, remove pest plants from the lakes and increase native plantings.

This is an extensive recreational area that includes several walkways, a recreational lake with boats and canoes to hire, smaller lakes for children’s fishing (up to 17 years old and a licence is required) and lots of green space and trees suitable for picnics and a friendly game or two. There is also a playground and a BBQ area.

Take your time to explore and enjoy!

The Groynes under 17 fishing ponds