Family adventures in Christchurch

With its proximity to mountains, countryside and the beach, Christchurch's location has some real advantages for family holidays.

There are animal encounters, island adventures and seaside villages to enjoy, as well as plenty of great picnic locations. At any time of the year, your tribe will find fun, education and frolics in the fresh air.

An island adventures for little explorers

Kids love to travel through tunnels, so rent a car and take them through the hills (literally) to the port town of Lyttelton. From here you can catch the ferry to Quail Island, in the middle of the harbour. Make sure you keep an eye out for the endangered Hector's Dolphin - a thoroughly cute cetacean with a rounded dorsal fin.

Little blue penguin, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Once the training location for Scott and Shackleton's ponies and dogs preparing for the Antarctic, Quail Island is steeped in Canterbury history and the perfect place for an adventure. Pack a picnic (there are no food outlets) and take your time exploring the little island. If you're up for a walk, there's a treasure-laden trail that leads to an abandoned shipwreck, historic cemetery, cliff-side vantage points and plenty of secret coves and beaches. The island is a protected recreational reserve and offers a sheltered, sandy bay for swimming in the summer, as well as the chance to spot little blue penguins.

Seaside village exploring

On a sunny day, head out to Sumner village and it's neighbouring bay, Taylor's Mistake.

Taylor's Mistake Cape, Canterbury, New Zealand.

Taylor's is the beginning of the beautiful Godley Head Walkway, which gently meanders above the cliffs to secluded Boulder Bay and the WW2 gun emplacements at Godley Head. The views from the edge of the mainland to the open sea are astonishing and provide the perfect backdrop for a picnic. Swimming at Taylor's is great fun for primary aged kids, especially if there's boogie boards involved.

If the weather isn't so kind, Sumner has a delightful historic cinema, complete with the latest flicks for all ages to enjoy. Top off your day at the seaside with gelato from the container store on the main street or fish and chips from Red Snapper.

Into the wild at Willowbank

Not far from the central city, Willowbank Wildlife Reserve is a great place for a hands-on experience with some of New Zealand's most elusive native species, including kiwi. For the most interactive experience, purchase some of the reserve’s animal food and feed the wildlife as you make your way around the loop.

Your kids will love the haka performances and the chance to try a traditional hāngi meal, which is cooked underground using hot stones.

Tuatara, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Three sections make up the Willowbank experience. Start with Natural New Zealand section, where you're able to meet kiwi, tuatara and other endangered native species.

The Heritage and Wild New Zealand sections offer interactive experiences with traditional farm animals, including greedy Kune Kune pigs and a pond of tame eels. The Māori cultural experience is not to be missed. Your kids will love the haka performances and the chance to try a traditional hāngi meal, which is cooked underground using hot stones.