Christchurch Sports and Outdoor Activities
(Christchurch, Canterbury, South Island, New Zealand NZ)
The sports scene in Christchurch is a well developed one and comes with a number of stadiums. Opened in 1881 and recently extended in 2009, the AMI Stadium (Lancaster Park) boasts a capacity of almost 40,000 spectators and is located within the suburb of Waltham. In the past, the AMI has played host to Rugby World Cup matches, cricket games and many enormous rock concerts, attracting the likes of Bon Jovi and Pearl Jam.
Following severe earthquake damage in Christchurch, the future of the AMI Stadium is uncertain and plans are afoot to build a new arena in nearby Addington.
Built for the Commonwealth Games in 1974, the impressive Queen Elizabeth II Park Stadium is also very much of note and to be found in the Burwood district, where it features a large pool and diving boards, as well as a smaller swimming pool designed for young children. For cycling events, the Denton Oval is the place to come.
Cricket is a noteworthy spectator sport in Christchurch and regular international and New Zealand test matches are held at Lancaster Park, which also goes by the name of the AMI Stadium and resides within the eastern Phillipstown district. The cricket season in Christchurch runs from October to March.
Rugby is one of the country's premier winter sports and the city is home to a wealth of rugby history. The Christchurch Football Club has played rugby longer than any other rugby club in the whole of New Zealand, with regular matches at Christchurch Park. Also, the Canterbury Rugby Union was actually the first association of its kind to be formed in New Zealand, when it was established in the 1880s. Frequent seasonal rugby matches are played at several stadiums close to the city centre, including the centrally located AMI Stadium (formerly the Jade Stadium) on Stevens Street / Wilsons Road.
The clear and rather inviting Pacific Ocean waters around the scenic coastal areas of Christchurch are often ideal for snorkelling and scuba diving. Popular dive spots include the nearby areas of Akaroa - a scenic harbour within easy driving distance of the city, Lyttelton - home to the rare Hector's dolphin and also the entertaining Little Blue penguin, the Kaikoura Coast - with dusky dolphins, fur seals and deep reefs, the Motunau Reefs - around 100 km / 62 miles north of Christchurch and full of thriving reefs, and areas around the Banks Peninsula - where the northern coast is full of deep bays and colourful fish.
Highly regarded throughout the South Island for its exceptional beaches situated along the easterly coastline, which often feature ideal surfing conditions, Christchurch has become known for its strong waves and water sports opportunities.
Some of the most popular areas for surfing in this region include South Brighton Beach, Sumner Beach, Waikuku and Taylor's Mistake Beach, which is located to the far south-east and serves as the premier surfing hotspot. The Taylors Mistake Surf Life Saving Club boasts an especially lengthy heritage, being founded here all the way back in 1916.
Sailing, Canoeing and Sea Kayaking
Christchurch features some excellent sailing, canoeing and sea kayaking schools, which cater for both experienced and beginner sailors. Sea kayaking along the coastline has recently become popular with holiday makers and kayaks can usually be hired per day or per hour.
Yachting has always been a major leisure activity in Canterbury. At the weekends, large numbers of expensive-looking yachts sail around the region's picturesque harbours, bays and scenic coastal regions. Of note, the main yachting season in New Zealand is between September and March.
Christchurch is within reach of more than a number of magnificent beaches with calm and clear warm waters. When it comes to swimming, some of the most suitable beaches include Ashworth's, Corsair Bay, Governors Bay, Leithfield, South Brighton, Sumner and Waimairi. Also, a number of the larger local sports centres contain swimming pools, which often include water slides and aquatic activities.
Fishing is a particularly popular activity with tourists and locals alike, with angling possibilities including inland fly fishing for trout and salmon, off-shore and deep-sea fishing. Boats now come with state-of-the-art radars and equipment, meaning that you are more than likely to return home with a good catch.
Cycling is a major sport in Christchurch, particularly after the Denton Oval cycling stadium was built for the Commonwealth Games in the 1970s. Situated in the Hornby district, the Denton Oval is reputed to be one of the premier cycling arenas in the whole of New Zealand.
There are many exceptional cycling trails around Christchurch that are particularly suitable for mountain bikes. These trails are often situated in the mountainous suburbs and include truly breathtaking views of the city's coastline, beaches, harbours and bays.
Extreme Outdoor Activities
Christchurch has an increasing number of exciting and sometimes slightly dangerous extreme sports and outdoor activities. These include mountaineering, abseiling, rock climbing (indoor and outdoor), caving and pot-holing, flying, go-karting, skydiving and even bungee jumping. Those who fancy trying their hand at white water rafting will find this available at the Rangitata Gorge, while for paragliding, head to the Port Hills. If you enjoy jet boat adventures, then the Waimakariri River is the place to be, with speed boats leading all the way to the stunning Waimakariri Canyon.