The Christchurch shoreline has many varied geographical features. Each area provides a unique place for wildlife and specialised coastal plants. It is a dynamic, ever-changing environment with much to see, do and treasure.

Water safety

The beach is a kiwi staple over summer but it can be dangerous. Learn the risks, be prepared, and you can keep yourself and family safe.

The water safety code

This code offers simple tips on how to stay safe in the water:

  • Be prepared - learn to swim, set rules for water play, wear appropriate attire and use safe equipment.
  • Watch out for yourself and others - always supervise children, swim between the flags, listen to the lifeguards, be considerate of other users.
  • Be aware of the dangers - enter unknown water feet first, obey safety and warning signs, don't swim if intoxicated, cold or tired.
  • Know your limits - never swim or surf alone, learn how to help others without risking yourself, develop first aid skills.

Read more about the code(external link) and how you can use it to stay safe this summer.


The beach can hold many hazards such as strong rips and currents, boats, sudden drop offs and strong waves. Learn about the kinds of hazards(external link) you could encounter at the beach.

Rips are often the cause of people getting into trouble in the water. Learn how to identify a rip(external link) and what to do if you're caught in one.

Council commissioned a rip current education and awareness report for Scarborough Beach and Sumner Beach [PDF, 1.2 MB] in 2019, to review its existing signage at the popular recreational spots as one way to reduce the risk of drowning. Recommendations in the report are currently being reviewed and followed up on by Council, working with stakeholders in the community.

Surf lifesaving patrols

Always swim between the flags. Safe swimming between the flags can be found at the Surf Life Saving Clubs.

You will also find the dates and times that lifeguards patrol on the Surf Life Saving Club website(external link).

Map of Christchurch beaches

Find more beaches around Canterbury.(external link)

Access and facilities


  • Car parking areas are located along the coast line or in dedicated car parks at individual beaches.
  • With beaches popular through summer, beat the traffic by taking the bus. Metroinfo(external link)(external link) has up-to-date bus information.


  • Most beaches in Christchurch have public toilets very near to, or on the beach.
  • Changing rooms and showers are also common at the larger beaches such as North, New and South Brighton, Sumner and Taylors Mistake.

ChristchurchNZ(external link) offers a list of their favourite beaches and available facilities.

Dogs on beaches

There is a summer beach prohibition for dogs between 1 November and 31 March, 9am and 7pm, to protect swimming and recreation activities. The areas of prohibition depend on the beach. 

Find out where you can take your dog.

In all other seasons, dogs are allowed under effective control on most beaches.

Water quality

Between November and March, water quality at all Christchurch beaches is monitored weekly. 

The quality can change after heavy rainfall so if you're unsure, check the water quality map.