The Best Beaches in Christchurch, New Zealand

The Best Beaches in Christchurch, New Zealand
Christchurch is a small city with a laid back charm, and the many beautiful beaches that surround it definitely add to the friendly, small-town vibe. Each beach has its unique attractions, from wildlife sightings to watersport-friendly facilities — here are five to suit every type of traveler.
New Zealand: Sumner Beach © Eli Duke/Flickr


Sumner Beach, located near Richmond Hill, is popular with locals thanks to its friendly village-like atmosphere. Local cafés, spas, and art galleries make Sumner ideal for those who want to do more than lie on the sand all day. Events, like the annual street party and the Sumner Pétanque Party, offer street performers, wine, vintage clothing stalls, and even fancy dress contests and bouncy castles to keep kids occupied. Sumner also has an abundance of sporting facilities, including horseback riding, surf, and paddle board schools.

Surf New Zealand © Jsawkins/Flickr

Tumbledown Bay

This is the place for travelers seeking some peace and quiet. Tumbledown Bay is tucked away on the southern coast of Banks Peninsula, south-east of Christchurch. Although the area is isolated and sees few visitors, it is a favorite among anglers and beginner surfers. Waves are generally small, and the bottom of the bay has a gentle slope out to sea. The rock shelves surrounding the beach make for great lookout points, although adventurers should be careful not to “tumble down” — according to urban legend, the bay is named after some drunken locals who fell down from the rocks.

Hector’s dolphins, Akaroa harbour © Allan Harris/Flickr


Akaroa Beach is a 90 minute drive from Christchurch, and sits in the middle of the largest bay on Banks Peninsula. The area is famed for its wildlife. A colony of penguins calls the bay home, and the world’s smallest marine dolphin, Hector’s dolphin, is a frequent visitor. Many streets surrounding the bay have French names, thanks to Akaroa’s history as a 19th century French settlement. This legacy is also visible in the buildings left behind by the French, like the Langlais-Eteveneaux Cottage.

Sailing By, Akaroa Harbour © Jocelyn Kinghorn/Flickr

Taylors Mistake

This beach is an all-round crowd-pleaser, with a rocky coastline (good for fishing), good cliff jumping and paragliding locations, and powerful waves. As a consequence, Taylors Mistake tends to be rather crowded in the summer. Nevertheless, anyone who likes a lively, sociable beach should give the Mistake a try. Remember to pack a picnic basket, though — there is only one food stall on the beach.

Hickory Bay

Hickory Bay, on the western coast of Banks Peninsula, is the ideal spot for surfing near Christchurch. Its position means it attracts excellent waves, which range from 1 to 12 meters in height. In fact, the Māori name for the bay is Waikerikikari, or Bay of Angry Waters, because the waves made the bay hard to access by boat. Travelers today can reach Hickory Bay by foot over hiking trails from Akaroa township.