Things to do  |  16 Jan 2023

Spend some time with the kids in the sun and get outdoors this summer! Christchurch City Council Play Advocate Louise Van Tongeren has some ideas for the best ways to play in Christchurch and Banks Peninsula.

 ONE: Spend some time in the water

On top of our outdoor pools and paddling pools there are some ideal spots to play in and with water

  • Roto Kohatu (Lake Rua) Located off Sawyers Arms Road, this lake is popular for playing and swimming in the summer months. The water quality is monitored. There are shallow sections for safe paddling, rope swings and space for a picnic.
  • Ōtukaikino Creek Swimming Hole Accessed by turning left just before the old Waimakariri bridge, nothing beats playing in a safe river swimming hole, but do have a check of the water quality on the LAWA website before you head off.
  • Purau Bay The shallow, gentle waters are ideal for paddling and there is a wonderful beach to explore when the tide is out.
  • New Brighton Beach When the tide is out, warm and shallow paddling pools are naturally created in the sand which are perfect for toddler water play.

New Brighton Beach

TWO: Get playful in our hills

The Port Hills are a playground, with lots of areas to explore and play in nature.

  • Westmorland East Valley Reserve Go for a walk, then explore and play in the creek.
  • Mt Vernon Farm Park Reserve Accessed via a carpark at the end of Hillsborough Terrace, this little reserve is a fantastic space for playing. Tussocks to run through, a creek-bed to explore, grass to kick a ball and even a cave you can discover by walking up the hill, turning right at the fork.
  • Halswell Quarry Some of the best play spots here are accessed by the back carpark at Findlay’s Picnic Area. Look for hills to roll down, climbing spots, creeks to jump and space to run or play a game with a ball.
  • Victoria Park Beyond the playground with its well-loved long slide, there are excellent climbing opportunities on the cliffs and tree stumps and rocky areas to explore where you might even spot a lizard. Many of the walks are short, interesting and family friendly, such as the 1km Tawhairaunui Track starting by the Dog Park carpark.

THREE: Get Curious about rock pools

Exploring rock pools and learning about the life inside of them is a fantastic way to engage children with nature and an opportunity to teach them about protecting our environment.

Here are some facts to help you before you head off! 

  • The rocky shoreline at Diamond Harbour You could even take the ferry to get there.
  • Governors Bay Access is next to the jetty at the end of Jetty Rd. There are highly engaging nature play opportunities along the entire walkway, so it is a great place to visit and take your time to walk along the Foreshore Track (30mins one way – but allow time to stop and play!)
  • Taylors Mistake Beach Explore the rock pools along both edges of the beach.

FOUR: Get stuck into building

It is so fun to create something out of natural materials or recycled goods – building is an excellent opportunity to play together and develop creativity and problem solving skills.

  • Create and Visit Fairy Houses Your own fairy house can be constructed at home and then carefully added to the magical Fairy Village, along Apple Road, close to the main entrance to Bottle Lake Forest. Hundreds of fairy houses have been built by families all over Christchurch – a magical place to visit!
  • Forest Hut Building at Waitariki / Bottle Lake Forest Park Head into the forest to build a hut and play in and amongst the others that you might come across on your adventures
  • Spencer Park Gather sticks and pine needles to create a cubby in the Pine Forest
  • Creative Junk This wonderful not-for-profit organisation is based in a warehouse in Sydenham and is a hidden gem for families who enjoy creating and loose part play. From boxes, tubes and buttons to fascinating containers and odds and ends, you can pay a small fee to fill a bag of recycled materials to play and create with at home. Excellent for rainy days. 

FIVE: Get into the city to play

The centre of town is a lot of fun to explore, with multiple play opportunities that you will discover along your way.

  • City Promenade The Ōtākaro was named after the children who played games along the riverbanks as their elders gathered kai. Following the Ōtākaro/Avon River from the hospital, this walk finishes up at the Margaret Mahy Family Playground. Along the way, enjoy the many little places you can look for eels, fountains, street art, steps to race down, a slope to play on outside of Te Pae, bridges to cross, rocks to climb and even a band rotunda to explore. An easy and engaging play along the Ōtākaro for people of all ages.
  • Christchurch Botanic Gardens Full of surprises, little pathways, the most playful trees in Christchurch and a playground with a large paddling pool, you can’t go past a few hours playing at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.
  • Play at Tūranga Our central library has multiple play opportunities, which change regularly. You can even get stuck into some Lego building at the Imagination Station on Level 1. The Libraries website is up to date with what is on.