7 Spectacular Hikes & Walks in Christchurch, New Zealand

Craving time in the outdoors on your visit to New Zealand’s beautiful Canterbury region? Set your compass for some of the best hikes & walks in Christchurch!

Christchurch, located on the east coast of South Island, is the second-biggest city in New Zealand. But don’t let it fool you: There are plenty of amazing things to do in Christchurch outside of its urban core.

Tramping along the best hiking trails around Christchurch, you’ll see everything. From incredible coastal scenery to stunning mountainscapes to lush native forests, you’ll find it all here. Best of all, it’s all within easy reach of Christchurch’s city centre.

Ready to plan the perfect Christchurch hiking adventure? Get started with this complete guide to the best Christchurch walks and hikes…

Christchurch hiking guide: The best trails & walking tracks

Godley Head Coastal Walk

Looking to fill your lungs with fresh sea breeze to the sounds of waves crashing onto the shore? Set your sights for the Godley Head Coastal Walk.

This coastal walkway has been long listed as one of the finest walks in Christchurch. It stretches from Taylors Mistake Beach to Godley Head alongside the rugged east coast of South Island.

Godley Head

Rambling along this easy & well-maintained track, you’ll absorb sweeping views of Pegasus Bay. The vistas stretch as far north as the beautiful Kaikoura Ranges. (Might even catch a few dolphin, whales, or penguins in action!)

SEE ALSO: Best Places to Stay in Christchurch

At its eastern apex at Godley Head, you’ll enjoy spectacular vistas of Lyttelton Harbour and the Banks Peninsula to the south. For history buffs, there’s even a handful of interesting World War II relics at Godley Head. Keep on the lookout for gun emplacements, tunnels, and storage facilities.

The Godley Head Coastal Walk is well-maintained. It’s the perfect escape for walkers & hikers of all fitness levels. You can access the trail either from the west at Taylors Mistake or from the east at the Godley Head car park.

  • Distance: 7 kilometres
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

The Crater Rim Walkway

Craving a more intense walking adventure? The Crater Rim Walkway is the most epic among the best hiking trails in Christchurch. The track traces the entire length of the Port Hills from Godley Head in the east to Gebbies Pass in the west.

Most hikers won’t want tackle the entire path in one day. Even so, the 27.9-kilometre-long walkway comprises several of the most popular hikes in Christchurch.

Crater Rim Walkway

The one thing the various sections of The Crater Rim have in common is the spectacular scenery. Whichever section of the trail you decide to hike, you’ll be treated to picture-perfect views. On the way you’ll see Lyttelton Harbour, the Banks Peninsula, and the Canterbury Plains. On a clear day, you’ll even catch the mountains of South Island!

Some of the most interesting sections of the track include the Bridle Path, Sign of the Kiwi to Sign of the Bellbird, and Mt Cavendish. The popular Major Hornbrook Track and Kennedys Bush Track are also found along the track

  • Distance: 27.9 kilometres
  • Time: Up to a full day
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

Rapaki Track

The Rapaki Track is a moderately-challenging point-to-point hiking trail. It climbs from Rapaki Road in the north to Summit Road in the south, whisking you over the Port Hills.

Rapaki Track

Hiking along this popular Christchurch walking track, you’ll be spoiled with incredible panoramas. The vistas from the Rapaki Track sweep over the city, coastline, and the Pacific Ocean. From its highest point, the southern views reveal Lyttleton Harbour. You’ll also get to marvel over the volcanic landscapes of the Banks Peninsula.

The Rapaki Track is 3.5 kilometres one way. You can, however, turn it into a loop with a walk north on the Mount Vernon Valley Track or the Huntsbury Track. The trail also connects, in part, to The Crater Rim Walkway.

  • Distance: 3.5 kilometres (one-way)
  • Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Kennedys Bush Track

Among the best walks around Christchurch, there’s no better place to get in touch with New Zealand’s wildlife than on Kennedys Bush Track.

The popular walking trail stretches 3.5 kilometres between Halswell Quarry and Summit Road. As you walk through private land, you’ll see farmers’ livestock up close. You’ll also get in touch with a variety of native birds. Keep your eyes peeled for bellbirds, kereru (wood pigeon), and fantails.

Once you reach Kennedys Bush Reserve at the trail’s end, you can continue your trek. Traversing through lush native bush, the reserve is home to several walking tracks. The most popular trails include the Orongamai Trail (1 hour), Quarry Trail (30 minutes), and Totara Trail (20 minutes).

The Kennedys Bush Track falls upon a mixed-use trail and is a great option for mountain bikers as well.

  • Distance: 3.5 kilometres
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Harry Ell Walkway

Among the best places to go hiking in Christchurch, The Harry Ell Walkway is a perennial favourite. It runs three kilometres from the Sign of the Takahe in Cashmere Hills to the Sign of the Kiwi at the top of Victoria Park.

On the point-to-point Harry Ell Walkway, you’ll be inspired by dramatic views over Christchurch. You’ll also catch vistas of the Canterbury Plains and towards the Southern Alps.

When you reach the trail’s apex in Victoria Park, stop in historic Sign of the Kiwi Cafe. Treat yourself to a coffee and one of the famous scones while soaking in its spellbinding vistas.

  • Distance: 3 kilometres
  • Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Easy

Halswell Quarry Walk

For a relaxing day in nature, the Halswell Quarry Walk is among the easiest Christchurch walking tracks. The walk traverses a family-friendly 55-hectare park south of city. It once the site of one of Christchurch’s most important historical quarries.

Halswell Quarry Park offers several great walking paths and bike trails that meander through native bush and gardens. As you hike the Halswell Quarry Walk, keep on the lookout for its six sister-city gardens. They feature botanical collections from each of Christchurch’s sister cities around the globe.

Looking for breathtaking city and alpine views? Be sure to scuttle across the park’s short but sweet Quarry Rim Track.

  • Distance: 1.3 kilometres
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

Akaroa Head Scenic Reserve Walk

Want to experience the rugged volcanic landscapes of the Banks Peninsula? There’s hardly a better way than on the Akaroa Head Scenic Reserve Walk.

To be sure, the Akaroa Head Scenic Reserve is not one of the easiest places to go hiking near Christchurch. But what you’ll lose in convenience & accessibility, you’ll more than make up for in serenity and spectacular scenery.

Akaroa Head Scenic Reserve

The biggest challenge in tackling this 1.1-kilometre-long walking trail is in getting there. To find it, you’ll need to drive along a rough 11-kilometre road. The bumpy road starts in the from the dolphin-watching beach town of Akaroa. It’s only suitable for 4WD vehicles; be prepared!

Walking along the track, you’ll enjoy incredible views of the reserve’s craggy coastal cliffs. You’ll also enjoy a variety of marine life. Peer upon the shoreline to spot fur seals (kekeno) and white-flipped penguins (kororā). Look up to the sky and catch seabirds like white-fronted terns (tara) and black-backed gulls (karoro) in action.

With the headland’s peninsular location, weather at the reserve can be hit or miss. Be sure to bring along a windbreaker, sunscreen, and layers in the cooler months to protect yourself from the elements.

  • Distance: 1.1 kilometres
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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