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12 Classic Christchurch Icons

In the ever-evolving city of Christchurch there is always something new popping up; however, there are also many classic icons that should be celebrated. Here are our top picks.


Located in Cathedral Square, this steel sculpture was installed to celebrate the new millennium and the 150th anniversary of the founding of Christchurch and Canterbury by the Canterbury Association – pretty cool if you ask us.

Peacock Fountain

No trip to the Botanic Gardens is complete without a stop at the Peacock Fountain, located on the Armstrong Lawn adjacent to the Canterbury Museum. This ornate, Edwardian-style fountain was unveiled in 1911 after being built by the 'Christchurch Beautifying Society' using money bequeathed by John Thomas Peacock. It was out of action for many years before being recommissioned by Mayor Vicki Buck in 1996.

Scarborough Clock Tower

Summer is not complete without a trip to Scarborough beach in Sumner for ice cream and a snap of the icon at the end of the esplanade. The Scarborough clock tower is a real piece of history – its foundation stone was laid in 1934.

New Regent Street

An Instagrammer’s dream, New Regent Street is full of distinctive pastel colours – you cannot help but get your camera out! The beautiful Spanish Mission architecture dates back to 1932, and the street is now filled with boutique shops and eateries, including a fabulous ice cream shop – Rollickin!

The Arts Centre

The Arts Centre is home to one of the most significant collections of heritage buildings in New Zealand. Originally the University of Canterbury’s town site (founded in 1873), where Sir Ernest Rutherford was based and Dame Ngaio Marsh studied, it is now a great venue for concerts, a relaxed hang out and a great place to shop (especially at the iconic Fudge Cottage). 

The Tram

Between 1905 and 1954, electric trams were a fabulous way for people to get around Christchurch, including to the beachside suburb of New Brighton. Nowadays you can hop on a tram to explore the city centre or have a romantic date on the restaurant tram.


Glide along the Avon River/Ōtākaro on an authentic Edwardian punt for a real throwback in time. These handcrafted flat-bottomed boats, poled along by a punter, are the perfect way to explore the Garden City!

New Brighton Pier

New Brighton Pier is the perfect spot to watch surfers and take in the fresh sea air. The original wooden pier opened in 1894 and was demolished in 1965; the current one is concrete and opened in 1997.

Isaac Theatre Royal

Interestingly, there have been three ‘Theatre Royals’ in Christchurch, with the first being a wooden building opened in 1863! The current theatre opened in 1908 and underwent extensive repair and restoration activities following the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. With its traditional horseshoe-shaped dress circle and gallery, elaborate plaster decorations and painted dome ceiling, it is a real stunner. 

Bridge of Remembrance

Completed in 1924, the Bridge of Remembrance was originally designed and built to mark the sacrifice of those who served in World War I and later become a place also commemorating other conflicts.

Cave Rock (Tuawera)

Tuawera is the Maori name for Cave Rock in Sumner, which figuratively means ‘cut down’ and refers to the many people who died from eating the flesh of a great whale that was stranded on the shore. It is said that the rock represents the carcass of the whale which was beached. Nowadays it is an ideal spot to watch the sunset and enjoy fish and chips from a local shop.

Victoria Clock Tower

The clock tower on Victoria Street was made in England and received in 147 packages in December 1860. It was erected to celebrate the 60th Jubilee of Queen Victoria’s reign. Since arriving in Christchurch, the tower has been moved from the Provincial Buildings, to Manchester Street and then finally in 1930 to its current location in Victoria Street.

Keen to explore more of Christchurch? Discover the top design and architecture spots in the city.