Victoria Square

Regal statues, a Māori monument and a historic bridge decorate this serene public park set on the banks of the Avon River.

Relax and unwind in Victoria Square, located in the heart of Christchurch’s city centre. The square was originally known as Market Square and served as a site for fairs, markets and trading. It took on its present name after a redevelopment between 1896 and 1897 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

The square features a series of paved areas surrounding by tree-shaded lawns. On warm days, the lawns are perfect to sit on, read a book, enjoy a picnic or even take nap. Spend some time admiring the square’s collection of statues. One is of Captain James Cook and honours his journeys around New Zealand in the 1700s. Another is a bronze statue of Queen Victoria, which features six inserts that portray events during the country’s colonial era.

Look for the Victoria Square Poupou, a totem pole-like Māori sculpture. It commemorates the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, an agreement made between the British Crown and Māori chiefs for New Zealand to become a British colony. Go to the northwest corner of the square and stroll across Hamish Hay Bridge. Built in 1864, it is one of the oldest cast iron and stone bridges in the country.

Flowing gently around the park’s eastern perimeter is the Avon River. Sit on the grass verges and watch as people cruise by on guided punting tours.

If you get hungry, cross Hamish Hay Bridge to a cultural space called The Commons. Here, the daily Diversity Food Market has food trucks that offer everything from ice cream and waffles to cuisine from India, Jamaica and Thailand. The space also puts on open-air film screenings.

Victoria Square sits just north of Cathedral Square, in Christchurch’s city centre. It’s a short walk from major city attractions, including the Bridge of Remembrance and Christchurch Art Gallery. A 15-minute walk to the west is Hagley Park, the Canterbury Museum and Christchurch Botanic Gardens.