Diverse is the best way to describe the art and culture in Christchurch and Canterbury.
You can indulge your own artistic and cultural passions local-style, or challenge your tastes and experience with something outside of your usual leanings. Either way, we hope what you see and experience in our region has you heading home wowed and inspired.
Art & galleries
Canterbury has a wealth of artistic talent proudly on show in galleries and artisan workshops throughout the region. Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu in the heart of Christchurch is home to one of New Zealand's most important public art collections. Offering free daily guided tours with knowledgeable guides and an extensive exhibition calendar, it is certainly worth the visit when in Christchurch. CoCA has been showcasing contemporary art since 1980 to provoke new thinking and conversations in a rapidly changing world. Located down Gloucester Street in Christchurch the gallery is free to enter and is a must-see for lovers of contemporary art. Timaru's Aigantighe Art Gallery is a must-visit for art aficionados, embracing unusual and original pieces, with dynamic programmes, and works from renowned New Zealand artists Goldie and McCahon. Take time to discover the creativity nestled in our regional towns. The Little River Gallery at the gateway to Banks Peninsula is a great example - a contemporary space showcasing emerging local talent.
Have some fun poking around Canterbury's markets for unique art and crafts – from paintings, to sculptures, pottery, woodwork, jewellery, clothing and wool craft. On Sunday from 9am-2pm, visit the Riccarton Market, the South Island's largest outdoor market with more than 300 stalls selling just about everything you can think of, rain or shine! Or check out the creative flair at the Riccarton House & Bush Farmers Market (every Saturday 9am-1pm), and pick up a one-of-a-kind souvenir of your Canterbury stay.
Music & entertainment
There's a vibrant performing arts scene in Canterbury. Take in a show at New Zealand's foremost theatre company, The Court Theatre, in its new home in Addington. Their annual summer musicals are , or revel in a moving performance by the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra. If you're after an evening of contemporary music and a humming atmosphere, Blue Smoke has a fantastic line-up of local, national and international acts.
Christchurch loves to host festivals. Several iconic events are held here each year, with a distinct party atmosphere taking over the city. Time your trip to join in on the infectious fun and festivities.
- World Buskers Festival - January
- Lansdown Summer Opera and Melodrama Festival - February / March
- Chinese Lantern Festival - March
- New Zealand Jazz & Blues Festival - April
- Christchurch Arts Festival - biennial - August / September
- Body Festival - September / October
- New Zealand Ice Fest - biennial - September / October
- Festival of Transitional Architecture - October
- New Zealand Cup and Show Week - November
If you think the Māori haka is powerful before a New Zealand All Blacks rugby game, wait until you experience it in real life at Christchurch's Ko Tāne Living Māori Village at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. In an interactive experience, you'll be introduced to the traditions and history of our indigenous Māori people. And your taste buds will sing with the flavours of a Māori hangi dinner – New Zealand seafood, meat, poultry and vegetables cooked in a traditional earth oven.
In Kaikoura, the award-winning Māori Tours takes small groups through an 800-year indigenous journey, to give an insight and understanding of local Māori culture, history, traditions and spiritual values. Tours combine laughter, learning, storytelling, hands-on activities and interactive experiences.
Cantabrians love their sports – so if you want a real local cultural experience, dress up in red and black, and cheer along the home rugby team, the Crusaders at the Christchurch Stadium in Addington. If you're a golf fan, our international courses host major tournaments that make for great spectator viewing, or come and enjoy the thrill and fun of horseracing at Addington Raceway. Giddy up!