Nature play inspiration

You're only limited by your imagination.

Our dirty dozen

Twelve things to do in nature and the best parks for doing them in.


Build a hut

The pine forest at Spencer Park is perfect for hut building.

Gather large sticks and pine needles to create a cubby.


Roll down a hill

There's nothing like the dizzy feeling you get from rolling down a really big hill. It can be really fun to do with friends, racing each other to the bottom.

To pick up speed make your body into the shape of a sausage with your arms tucked in tight and roll down the hill sideways – watch out for poo though.

Great hills to roll down can be found at Findlay's Picnic Area at Halswell Quarry Park, Walter Park(external link) in Mareihau and Heathcote Domain(external link) – and possibly a local park near you.  

Photo by Celia Hoga.


Be wowed by the awesomeness of trees

Exploring large trees in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Christchurch Botanic Gardens has some super trees from all over the world both large and small. The native forest section is great for exploring, with lots of winding paths.

Riccarton Bush is home to our tallest native tree, the kahikatea. Check out their awesome buttressed roots or sit in the kahikatea grove and marvel at their magnificence. 


Float leaf boats

Float leaf boats; Photo Celia Hogan. Edmonds Factory Garden has old, English trees that drop their leaves in winter, and ponds and channels where you can float your leaf boat.

You can access the Otukaikino River at The Groynes or visit Picton Reserve in Riccarton, which has a kid-size, spring-fed stream. Parents, supervise your children near water.


Jump across stepping stones

Styx Mill stepping stones. Styx Mill Conservation Park and Halswell Quarry Park both have cool stepping stones across waterways – a magical pathway to another world.


Go rock scrambling

Rock wall scrambling, Victoria Park. Victoria Park has a great rock wall for easy climbing.

Many of our harbour beaches have rock pools for exploring at low tide; Rapaki Beach and the rocky shoreline at Diamond Harbour are two fantastic spots.


Splash in the sea

Sumner beach rock pools. Sumner Beach at low tide has awesome pools that are perfect for splashing and exploring.

Corsair Bay in Lyttelton Harbour has nice gentle waves, or you could visit Purau Bay on the Diamond Harbour side.


Imagine you are an explorer

Exploring Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Feeling intrepid?

Some parks have remnant forests that give you an idea of what it might have been like for early explorers.

Ashgrove Reserve (external link)has stony paths winding through trees, while Kennedy's Bush on the Port Hills is a wild place.

Or for something different push through tussocks and explore the caves at Mt Vernon Farm Park


Spot some birds

Bird-watching. Lots of parks are great places for seeing some of our amazing wildlife.  

Charlesworth Reserve and McCormacks Bay (external link)are good for spotting seasonal rare wading birds like godwits/kuaka (in summer) and royal spoonbills/kotuku-nutu papa (in winter). 

Travis Wetland has a bird hide where you can spot wetland birds without them spotting you! Take some binoculars or make your own.


Find your way with a map

Orienteering. There is something pretty cool about figuring out where to go on a map.

Permanent orienteering courses are set up in four of our parks:

  • Spencer Park
  • Victoria Park
  • The Groynes
  • Halswell Quarry Park


Dig in sand

Digging in sand; photo Celia Hogan. Taylor's Mistake(external link) is such a beautiful spot, definitely worth the extra effort to drive over Scarborough Hill.

Sometimes, at the right time of year, you might see whales migrating up the coastline.

Photo by Celia Hogan.


Go hunting for nature's treasures

Nature's treasures; photo by Celia Hogan.

Anywhere, anytime.

We've made this nature's treasure hunt card(external link) for you to take with you when you visit any park.

Or you could check out the treasure hunt at Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

Each season there are new treasures for you to find.

Photo by Celia Hogan.

Nature play challenge

Enjoy the great outdoors with your family by doing a nature play challenge in Christchurch's fantastic parks.

Download your nature play challenge activity sheet. [PDF, 2 MB]

Check out the nature play parks map(external link) for some great locations to complete your challenge.

Looking for more ideas?

Discover awesome Kiwi Guardians(external link) adventures around Christchurch or take action in your own backyard.

This DOC programme sponsored by Toyota encourages kiwi kids to explore new places and earn a medal.

Two Council sites are in place at Travis Wetland(external link) and Putaringamotu/Riccarton Bush(external link).