Christchurch - or Otautahi as it was originally known, named for a prominent Ngai Tahu Māori chief - is a city of contrasts. Whether you want to immerse yourself in nature or indulge in your love of culture and heritage, this is an elegant South Island city to linger in.
Home to beautiful parks, magnificent beaches and a charming serpentine river, as well as galleries, theatres and museums, it’s also famously popular with walkers, cyclists and relaxers.
Whether you care to be industrious or idle on your Canterbury road trip, there’s no better way to experience this vibrant southern city than from the comfort of a campervan.
Christchurch prides itself on offering a warm welcome to motorhomers, which means there are numerous campsites to choose from. So where should you stop?
First, you’ll want to think about what you want from your Christchurch City campsite.
- Do you want to be plugged in, or are you eager to experience some ‘freedom’?
- Do you want a bit of social life, or would you rather go somewhere secluded?
- Are you travelling with kids or are you rolling along sans enfants?
Or with golf clubs? Travelling for business or leisure, or a bit of both?
These are all important considerations, which is why we’ve put together this comprehensive collection of Canterbury accommodation highlights to take some of the legwork out of your Christchurch motorhome holiday planning.
Campsites close to the heart of the city
308 Blenheim Road, Upper Riccarton.
Handily located between Christchurch Airport and downtown, here you’ll find affordable powered sites in a peaceful campground setting, with a range of site choices.
Because it’s the closest holiday park to the Christchurch CBD, once you’re parked up and plugged in, you can take a bus from outside the front gate or ride your bike into the city. Christchurch is perfectly placed for pedallers.
Featuring meticulously landscaped grounds, Amber Kiwi also has:
- A kitchen and barbecue areas
- Laundry facilities
- Free Wi-Fi
- A fun kid’s playground
39 Meadow St, Papanui.
Also close to the central city, this little beauty is just 15 minutes from the airport and the CBD. Popular with families, Tasman Holiday Parks offers a wide range of entertainment options, including a pool with a hydroslide and a heated spa - so don’t forget your togs.
There’s also a games room with pool, table tennis and arcade games, as well as a bike repair station — so this is a perfect place for cyclists to base themselves. Just a short stroll from St James Park, Tasman Holiday Parks Christchurch even has a book exchange and a handy tour desk with plenty of information to help you make the most of your visit.
100 Heyders Road, Spencerville.
Spencer Beach Holiday Park is spread across 17 hectares. Visitors are invited to soak in the charms of nature, in the midst of a 70 hectare forest reserve.
Whether you want to hug the trees or take advantage of the numerous activities on offer, you’ll find your happy place here. Plus, it’s only 500m to the beach and a mere 20 minutes from the city and from the airport. This makes Spencer Park one of the most remote, yet close-to-town campsites in New Zealand.
Adjacent to the holiday park, Adrenaline Forest is a high-ropes adventure course with challenges for all abilities. There are also walking tracks and a mountain bike park, making this an ideal holiday location for those who want a bit of action to go with their peace and quiet.
With 250 powered sites, you’ll be sure to find the perfect spot for your needs — as far, or as close, to the playground as you fancy!
59 Halsey St, South New Brighton.
If it’s affordable accommodation you’re after, you’ll appreciate South Brighton Holiday Park’s discount for stays of over seven nights.
South Brighton is perfect for self-contained vehicles with its plethora of facilities including showers, kitchen, Wi-Fi and play areas. Best of all, it’s just 350 metres to stunning South Brighton Beach, which is grand for swimming or taking revitalising walks along the spit.
Bird watchers love it here. They know to keep their binoculars handy and their eyes peeled for an array of birds, such as:
- Black swans
- Many gull and duck species
Surfers and kite surfers also flock to New Brighton and, because it’s yet to be discovered, the region has a lovely unspoiled feel.
Catch a bus straight from the gate to town, or ride or walk 3km into nearby New Brighton to avail yourself of the numerous eateries and emporiums.
530 Sawyers Arm Rd, Christchurch.
Just five minutes from the airport, North South Holiday Park is the closest holiday park to the plane station. As well as a fine selection of powered sites spaced among serene, tree-lined grounds, you’ll find everything from an outdoor swimming pool and a colourful children’s playground to Giant Jenga. You can even hire bikes.
This family-owned park prides itself on offering a warm welcome and clean amenities, plus it’s also one of just a few pet-friendly campgrounds in the area. So if you’re roving with Rover, this is the wag-tastic location for you.
North South is also close to Orana Park, the Antarctic Centre and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve — as well as Clearwater and Russley Golf Clubs. Don’t forget your driver, or you might feel teed off that you can’t tee off!
14 Woodend Beach Rd, Woodend Beach.
Twenty minutes from the airport, this cosy holiday park is set among 55 acres of park-like grounds, encased in lush forest. It’s just a short stroll to the beach and not far from the city either.
There are three golf courses within cooee so you could make a week of it and take to the greens of Kaiapoi, Rangiora and Pegasus Golf Clubs.
Woodend Beach Holiday Park also provides easy access to two excellent fishing rivers. Accommodation highlights here include:
- Well-appointed communal kitchens
- A barbecue area
- Gas-heated showers
There's also a coin-operated laundry, which is especially handy if you’ve reached that point in your holiday when it’s time to do a load of washing.
Christchurch City Council (CCC) strives to be friendly with freedom campers, within reason. As long as you’re fully self-contained and you stick to all the rules, you have loads of locations to choose from. Freedom camping is permitted for up to two nights in self-contained vehicles only.
Your best source of up-to-date information on where you can freedom camp in Christchurch is on the Council’s website. The orange, shaded areas on the map show where freedom camping is allowed. If you scroll around the map and zoom in a little, you can also see a few areas dotted around Banks Peninsula that fall into the restricted freedom camping category. This includes some areas in Duvauchelle, Little River and Diamond Harbour.
When freedom camping, always:
- Treat the environment with respect.
- Keep noise levels to a minimum when you’re in residential areas.
- Take only photographs and leave only footprints.
We've pulled together a few freedom camping spots that our team loves, but we recommend checking if freedom camping is still permitted at each before parking up.
If you have had a recent experience freedom camping in Christchurch, please let us know in the comments.
Pannetts Road, Springston
This beautiful reserve is set on the Selwyn River making it an ideal place for swimming, fishing and picnics. Dogs are also welcome here so you can bring the whole family along.
Coe's Ford has a generous maximum stay of 28 days and does not require bookings. The only facility is a public toilet. The reserve typically closes over winter, and may be closed at any time due to heavy rainfall or flooding, so check this website before your visit.
Access off Marine Parade
This spot is in a super location near the popular New Brighton Beach. Park for the night and rise early to catch some waves, or just watch the surfers enjoying the swell.
New Brighton Beach Carpark is currently only available on weekdays and for a maximum of two nights in a certified, self-contained vehicle only. The nearby public toilets are convenient, but traffic noise can sometimes be an issue.
Near Stoddart Point Reserve
Not so much a specific spot as a beautiful coastal area with many possibilities for parking up near the water or slightly inland.
We recommend finding a place near Stoddart Point Reserve for a quiet night among native bush and with sea views. The public toilets in the nearby reserve are super convenient. You can park in the Diamond Harbour area for two nights maximum in a certified, self-contained vehicle only.
So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags today, buckle up and make a beeline for Christchurch — where you’ll find some of the best campgrounds in the country.
With plenty of cycling, golfing, walking, plain old reading in the sun and the locals' warm welcome, there's something in Christchurch for you.
Make the most out of your time in Christchurch
Our itineraries can help you see the best of Christchurch no matter how long you have. Check them out here.