Christchurch is renowned as New Zealand’s ‘garden city’, with no fewer than 700 civic parks and recreational spaces to enjoy.
Whittling that number down to the must-see parks and gardens is no mean feat, but here are a handful of highlights that should be on every visitor’s itinerary. Book your stay in Christchurch with Choice Hotels.
1. Christchurch Botanic Gardens
Bordered by the picturesque Avon River, and featuring a number of ornamental themed gardens, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens is a stunning spot for a wander. Seasonal highlights include the Azalea and Magnolia Garden in spring and the Central Rose Garden in summer. Don’t miss the Fragrant Garden, which is packed with sweet smelling plants like rosemary and wisteria. Meander along the paved pathways and soak up the beauty of this floral wonderland. It’s a delight.
2. Hagley Park
Cocooning the Botanic Gardens is the much-loved-by-locals Hagley Park. Divided into two sections, North Hagley and South Hagley, this 165-hectare expanse of green space dates back to the 1850s and is criss-crossed by a network of walking tracks. Hagley is home to more than 3,000 mature trees, the oldest of which were planted by early European settlers. If you happen to be visiting in spring or summer, plan a picnic by one of the park’s two lakes. Autumn visitors will have the opportunity to admire the gorgeous golden colours along Deans Avenue.
3. Riccarton House and Bush
Historic Riccarton House and Bush incorporates a tranquil 12-hectare reserve just a few kilometres from the Christchurch city centre. The shady, easily accessible Riccarton Bush Trail winds through a grove of the last remaining stand of Kahikatea trees in Christchurch. These massive, 600-year-old trees tower over the trail, which covers a distance of two kilometres and takes around 40 minutes to complete.
4. Edmonds Factory Gardens
The manufacturer of the famous baking powder brand established this garden around his new factory back in 1923. The factory is no more, but the gardens remain. They were acquired by the City of Christchurch in the 1990s and are open daily to the public.
5. Mona Vale
Situated just a stone’s throw from North Hagley Park, it’s easy to see why the heritage-listed Mona Vale Homestead and Gardens are popular with bridal couples. What could go wrong (apart from the weather!) with wedding photos in this quintessentially English setting? Highlights include the rose garden, the iris garden, and the beds of annuals (which are planted out twice a year).
6. Abberley Park
Like the Edmonds Factory Gardens, Abberley Park began life as a private facility, but was acquired by the city in the 1930s. The original 19th century homestead was removed, but there are remnants to be found. Several mature trees also date back to that period. The playground and paddling pool are well utilised by local families and the grounds have a relaxed feel.
7. Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
Willowbank Wildlife Reserve is situated north of the city and boasts some of the best kiwi viewing in New Zealand. This combined wildlife park and conservation area is home to both native and exotic animals, along with an interactive Māori cultural experience. Complete your visit with a meal at Willowbank Restaurant, which takes full advantage of the beauty of the reserve surroundings.
Need a place to stay?
Quality Suites Amore offers contemporary accommodation in picturesque Riccarton, just west of Christchurch and close to Riccarton Bush, Hagley Park and the Botanic Gardens.
Econo Lodge Canterbury Court is situated just a few minutes’ drive from the Christchurch city centre. There are 20 ground floor rooms in a tranquil garden setting, all with kitchen facilities.
Located north of the CBD, Quality Hotel Elms features stylish and contemporary accommodation. Perfect for business or leisure travellers, the hotel features a range of room types — including standard rooms, executive suites and a luxury apartment.