It's hard to know what non-Cantabrians imagine when they think of Christchurch; the truth is many probably haven't visited since the quakes. My family jumps at any chance to visit the Garden City; and our boys are forever asking when they can go again. Christchurch is a vibrant, interesting destination for a family holiday, and it's getting only better as the redevelopment continues.
Release your inner three-year-old
Our kids loved a good tram ride when they were little, and the Christchurch Hop-on Hop-off city tour is a great orientation for anyone who hasn't been to the city for a while. While you're awakening that inner child, head to the amazing Margaret Mahy playground, the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere. I always find it very hard to resist jumping on the inground trampolines with the kids, much to their horror.
Visit New Zealand's best library
Christchurch's new $92 million library, Tūranga, is not just a place to borrow books. It's a place for adults to curl up in a comfy chair and read, chat with a friend, grab a coffee or learn a new skill; and a wonderland for children to attend board-games classes, have a VR experience, play with the enormous collection of Lego from Imagination Station, have a go at design software, book out a fully-fledged recording studio or check out the Maker Space (complete with 3D printer). There's even a mini slide for tiny tots.
Take your walking shoes
There's so much great walking to do around Summit Road and the Port Hills, and the stunning Taylors Mistake Track is the perfect place to get older kids moving. If you'd rather walk in the city, the Botanic Gardens are perfect and the reopened Ōtākaro Avon River Precinct, which stretches from Christchurch Hospital to the Margaret Mahy Playground, provides the perfect Christchurch riverside stroll.
Fill your tummies
There are so many family-friendly food options in Christchurch. Little High is a wonderful funky indoor-outdoor food court (although that word doesn't really do it justice) with a dazzling choice of sushi, bao, dumplings, burgers, ramen, Venezuelan barbecue, woodfired pizza, Thai, Caribbean and Mexican fare — and excellent cocktails and craft beer for parents. And no trip to Christchurch is complete without a trip to Rollicking Gelato and Fudge Cottage (just try and resist a selfie with the Rollicking Gorilla statue in New Regent St). Then there's C1 Espresso, where your food is delivered through the ceiling in pneumatic tubes — yes really; Potsticker for dumplings and, in the weekend, Lyttelton and Christchurch Farmers' Market for tasty artisan treats.
Older kid fun
If your children are young enough to travel with you but too old to be impressed by kiddy stuff, there are plenty of options. Shoppers will love The Crossing and Cashel St and outdoorsy kids will adore Christchurch Adventure Park where they can try New Zealand's longest zipline, or some great downhill mountain-biking tracks. If your teens or tweens are interested in the earthquakes, the Quake City exhibition is well worth a visit and, if they can handle it, the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial is a beautiful poignant outdoor tribute to so many lives lost.
Rainy Day Entertainment
Christchurch has you sorted if it pours down too. There's the new Hoyts EntX cinema complex with its multimillion-dollar high-tech fit out, faux leather recliner seats, self-service ticket terminals, Xtremescreens, Treat City and two bars, over two levels with a third for a food court. And of course there are the gorgeous Art Gallery plus the Canterbury Museum. You won't run out ways to amuse your kids in Christchurch, but you might run out of time to do everything you want.
Air New Zealand and Jetstar fly daily from Auckland
The Crowne Plaza is central, very new and comfortable and has interconnecting rooms for families