Explore Canterbury Museum

Canterbury Museum, located in Christchurch’s Cultural Precinct, is a must-visit on any trip to Christchurch.

World-renowned for its natural and human history collections with a revolving programme of exhibitions and events in addition to the permanent displays, a visit to Canterbury Museum equals a fun and educational day for all ages.


Canterbury Museum was originally established in 1867 in the Provincial Council Buildings and featured geology specimens collected by Dr (later Sir) Julius von Haast and Dr Ferdinand Hochstetter. Haast, a graduate of the University of Bonn, had come to New Zealand in 1858 to report on its suitability for German emigration but decided not to return to Germany, eventually becoming the appointed Geologist to the Canterbury Provincial Council in 1861.

Haast excavated the great deposit of moa bones found in 1866 at Glenmark Station by the owner G H Moore during the draining of a swamp, and it was the collection of moa bones and bird skins which enabled Haast to form the basis of the Canterbury Museum Collection.

To this day, it is one of the leading museums in the Southern Hemisphere.


Quake City: Quake City features stories and interactive displays from the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that shook the city in 2011. Learn about the science behind the quakes and understand the phenomenon of liquefaction through the hands-on interactive display.

Antarctic Gallery: Christchurch has long been the ‘Gateway to Antarctica’, with many famous explorers and scientists using Christchurch as a base before undertaking epic journeys across to the great beyond.

From the early explorers to the more recent motorised crossings across this ice-filled continent, the Antarctic Gallery features the largest and most diverse collection of Antarctic memorabilia and photographic images in the world.

Asian Arts: This gallery highlights the beauty of Asian art including religious iconography and the role of the mandarin and the samurai as traditional patrons of the arts.

Focusing on Korea, China, and Japan, this exhibit includes items from most time periods in China’s history, from the Neolithic to the Ch’ing Dynasty and beyond.

With many permanent and featured exhibitions to visit, these are only a snapshot of the wonders that fill the Canterbury Museum.

Tickets & Opening Hours

Entry to the museum is free, but donations are appreciated so that they can continue to run this museum free of charge.

The Canterbury Museum is open every day except Christmas, with the hours varying slightly over the different seasons. From April-September, opening hours are from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm, and 9:00 am - 5:30 pm during October-March.

The Quake House is open daily 10: 00 am - 5: 00 pm.


Canterbury Museum is located in central Christchurch in the Cultural Precinct, towards the east end of Hadley Park.

With the Arts Centre of Christchurch, Christchurch Art Gallery and the Botanic Gardens close by, it’s easy to locate, and easily accessible. 

If you’re travelling by foot, it’s about a 10 minute-walk from Cathedral Square and the central Christchurch hotels.

If you’re driving, there is pay and display parking available on the adjacent streets, and free parking for 3 hours in the Botanic Gardens via the Armagh Street entrance.

For those opting to use public transport, the central bus terminus is a 10-minute walk away. To plan your journey, visit the Metro Information website.

Related Articles