Hagley Park has been Christchurch’s main open-air recreational facility since the 1850s. With an area of 165 hectares (407 acres), it is also the city’s largest – comprising North and South Hagley Parks, the Botanic Gardens, and the Canterbury Museum. North Hagley Park is particularly known for hosting an array of outdoor concerts, competitions, festivals and community events throughout the year.
Christchurch Botanic Gardens
The Christchurch Botanic Gardens are a horticultural paradise. Plants, trees and flowers from New Zealand and abroad liven up the city landscape, and are greatly complemented by artistic installations all around. Its main highlights include the Central Rose Garden, which was considered to be one of the largest in Australasia when it was installed in 1909, and the Herbaceous Border, which is believed to be the longest of its kind in the entire Southern Hemisphere.
Riccarton Bush is a tranquil, inner-city reserve that houses the Canterbury region’s last remaining kahikatea floodplain forest – making this a piece of parkland with strong national significance. The 600-year-old kahikatea trees are the most recent survivors of a forest that has been carved from a series of flooding cycles some 3000 years ago. The area is also known for its historic homestead, Riccarton House, which is the venue of choice for the weekly Christchurch Farmers’ Market.
Millbrook Reserve is adjacent to Hagley Park and is the closest garden park to the central city. Once a part of the estate of distinguished Christchurch architect Heathcote Helmore, this reserve has since become a popular venue for riverside picnics, outdoor weddings, and photography. Its beautiful landscaped garden features two of Christchurch’s tallest trees, as well as spectacular displays of azaleas, rhododendrons, and camellias during the spring.
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Halswell Quarry Park
Halswell Quarry Park is the gateway for some of the Christchurch’s best walking trails. The scenic city-fringe reserve is within close range to Kennedy’s Bush track, the Cashmere Hill Loop, and Findlay’s Walk – the latter of which will give you access to an extensive picnic area. Halswell Quarry Park is also home to the Sister City Gardens, which showcase small botanic collections from some of Christchurch’s main sister cities: including Adelaide in South Australia, Christchurch in England, the Chinese Gansu Province, Kurashiki in Japan, Seattle in the United States, and Songpa-Gu in Korea.
Edmonds Factory Gardens
When Thomas Edmonds built his iconic baking powder factory in 1923, he decided to embellish its premises with an expansive garden. Fast forward to today, and many generations have enjoyed the horticultural wonders adorning the area – in fact, the Edmonds Factory Gardens have won several awards over the years for beautifying the city. Since the original factory was demolished, the property was subdivided and given new rose and oval gardens to make the most of its location. The garden is presently looked after by the community-driven Friends of the Edmonds Factory Garden in collaboration with the Christchurch City Council.
Mona Vale is a gracious historic site that is surrounded by 5.5 hectares (13.6 acres) of gardens, landscaped lawns and a heritage homestead. A sweeping line of bedding displays, routinely changed twice yearly to suit the newly-arrived seasons, welcome visitors as they enter this idyllic location. Throughout its inception, the Mona Vale garden collections have featured a myriad of English and European trees, conifers, maples, rhododendrons, and camellias. In present times, the area has been enhanced by a showcase of magnolias, roses, irises, and herbaceous perennials.
A suburban park that is greatly loved by resident families and has an interesting story to tell. Abberley Park began as a private garden and, even though its original homestead no longer exists, its early 19th century character has been sustained ever since. Trees dating as far back as the 1860s and parkland-style gardens feature prominently in this location. The park also consists of a popular children’s playground, a series of walkways meandering by the stream, and extensive shrub plantations.
Abberley Park, St Albans, Christchurch 8014, New Zealand, +64 3-941 8889
A short drive from the central city will lead you into the Port Hills-based Victoria Park. This is a fantastic place to enjoy the Canterbury vistas, allowing its visitors to catch a glimpse of the Southern Alps and the coastal plains from a faraway distance. Picnic spots, several bush walks and cycling tracks are some of the other highlights you’ll get to experience on any given visit.
Bottle Lake Forest Park
An exotic, 800-hectare (1976.8 acres) pine forest, with trees stretching as far as the eye can see, is ready to inspire and amaze anyone who enters the Bottle Lake Forest. This is a great location for cycling in particular – there are clearly-marked tracks for beginners and advanced riders alike to get their heart pumping. If pedalling is not your thing, there’s plenty on offer for hikers, horse riders, and runners too.