If you’re exploring Christchurch, the largest city on New Zealand’s South Island, there are plenty of interesting date ideas around. And the best thing is, many of them are quite affordable. Take a closer look at seven free and cheap suggestions that will make for a fun, romantic experience.
Spend the morning boating on the Avon
The Antigua Boat Sheds has a number of different boat hiring options that will get you and your significant other quite close to one of Christchurch’s most prominent scenic attractions: the Avon River. A single kayak can be hired for NZ$12 and hour, while double kayaks and other types of boats have an hourly rate of NZ$24-$25. There’s also a cafe on-site if you want to grab a bite to eat after you finished paddling.
Have a picnic on Mt Cavendish
Part of the Port Hills, Mt Cavendish offers spectacular views of Christchurch and Lyttelton. To get there, simply catch a bus from the city and follow the steep Bridle Path trail. If you want to up your romantic ante, you could opt for a picturesque Gondola ride to the top instead (transport to the Port Hills is included in the fare). From there, you can unpack your picnic supplies and simply admire the amazing vistas on show as you’re sharing your well-earned meal.
Go mountain biking in Bottle Lake Forest
For a date with just the right amount of adrenaline, a mountain biking expedition is hard to beat. Christchurch is quite renowned for its cycling and mountain biking trails, and the Bottle Lake Forest rides are relatively easy to handle. The terrain is mostly flat, winding through some luscious pine forest and coastal sand hills that are worth checking out for their scenic beauty.
Visit the Botanic Gardens
You can’t talk about romance in the Garden City without mentioning the exquisite flora it has on show. A visit to Christchurch Botanic Gardens doesn’t cost a thing, and will reward you with lots of beautiful roses, native plants and exotic flowers to marvel at. Take your time exploring the lovely blooms and greenery, then stop by the local cafe for a brunch overlooking this all-round peaceful setting.
Venture into the Canterbury Museum
There’s always something interesting on display at the Canterbury Museum – and best of all, admission is free (though small donations are always appreciated). Highlights include a showcase of the history of the Canterbury region, an impressive collection of traditional Maori artifacts, plenty of geological highlights like massive geodes and dinosaur fossils, and quirky little gems like Fred and Myrtle’s Paua Shell House display.
Spend a day on Quail Island
Ōtamahua/Quail Island is a small, inner harbour island that can be reached by ferry from Lyttelton. Pack a lunch, bring NZ$30 cash for the ferry and take the number 28 bus from Christchurch central to the Lyttelton Wharf. Black Cat Cruises runs scheduled sailings (no bookings required) seven days a week from October until February. Once you’ve reached your destination, you’re free to explore the coastline, walking tracks, and the native plants and wildlife at your own pace.
Go for a peaceful stroll around Riccarton Bush
A leisurely walk around Riccarton Bush is an ideal choice on a hot summer’s day. The boardwalk trail, which should take around 15 minutes to explore, weaves into the shade of the native trees and shrubbery as it eases visitors into a sense of bliss. There are seating areas around the track if you want to spend some time listening to the echoing birdsong of the local fantails, silvereyes and grey warblers. If you have an affinity for all things heritage, you can also go for a guided tour of the historic houses in the vicinity.