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High Street Kids for Peace Tiles
Just off the Cathedral Square in Christchurch, is High Street, which diagonally heads away from the square in a Southeasterly direction. On this street you will find a small arcade with some beautifully hand crafted tiles, which are part of a greater Kids for Peace mural. Its only a few steps away from the square, but is often overlooked in your rush to see the other sites on the South Island. I would highly recommend taking 10 minutes away from your time in the square and come look at the great work by kids.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
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Cycling and jogging at the Bottle Lake Reserve
It is not always easy to go jogging and cycling in non-danger zones in New Zealand. Big parts of the country are either fenced (long live farming... ;-) or the terrain is difficult. Or, of course, you do not live in the vicinity of a park in the city.
The Bottle Lake Reserve (or: Forest Park) is a huge area on the northern shores of Christchurch and perfect for people who do not want to get hit by a car, fall over rocks as it could happen on the mountainbike tracks in the Port Hills, or are just not fit enough or willing to run or cycle up- and downhill extremely. It is good for cycling, jogging, walking and even horse riding.
The forest park is - apart from some mini hills on the BMX tracks - perfectly flat, and on hot days it is nice to work out in the cool shadow of the trees. The tracks still require some effort as they are not smooth or sealed. They are on rather rough gravel forest roads, nice forest ground and sometimes on the sand from the dunes that separate the Bottle Lake Reserve from the beaches where you can rest and have your lunch break. So a perfect area to be active and relax at the same time.
Although there are no cars crossing you still have to be cautious on the BMX tracks as some people seem to think they are alone in this world. They do not look neither left nor right and do not give way but race over crossing tracks at high speed, which could end in serious crashs.
The tracks lead into adjadent Spencer Park in the north of Bottle Lake Reserve where you also find toilets, picknick and BBQ areas, and even a horse park.
Although there are map boards in the forest it is recommended to get a map at the information centre, as the boards might not be where you would exactly need them... ;-)
(this does not fit in the "other info" link...)Related to:
- Horse Riding
- Hiking and Walking
McLeans Forest great for MTB, jogging and walking
The Waimakariri River Regional Park near Christchurch International Airport opened for the public at the end of September 2006. The first stage covers about 11.000 hectares and is mainly aimed at recreational activities. The main features are a 10.5 km specially designed fast mountainbiking track, separate walking and jogging tracks and a big picknick area including toilets. If you do not race you should do the walking track within 2 to 2.5 hours.
The great thing about the mountainbike track in the peaceful pine forest setting is that it is one-way, so no oncoming traffic. With its banked curves and very winding line it is technically more challenging than the track in the Bottle Lake Reserve, but as there are only some artificial hills in the flat area it is not a big physical challenge, so you can do the lap several times if you want to have a real work-out. You really have to focus on the track, otherwise you could easily lose the ideal line and crash into a tree or land beside the track.
So if you want to watch the big variety of birds singing from every tree, you better get off your bike or go the walk ;-) There are fantails, silvereyes, gold and green finches everywhere.
Since April 2007 you can hire a bike next to the carpark, right now just on the weekends but this will be extended.
Do not praise the Christchurch City Council for the great park - it has been created by Environment Canterbury (ECan).
Check with the rangers if the tracks are open after heavy rainfall as so close to the Waimakariri they could well be flooded.
If everything is fine the biggest danger could be flying golf balls from the courses near the forest - as indicated on one sign along the track ;-)
The brochure and map of the park can be downloaded from the ECan website.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
As we travelled south from Christchurch on SH1, it wasn't long before we came across the Rakaia river, what a sight this was! and crossing it was on the longest bridge in New Zealand!
Entering Rakaia township, I saw a giant fish, so a stop was made to find out the details. It was a 10-metre high statue of a quinnat salmon rising to take a fisherman's hook, and was put there by the Lions Club.
Rakaia is the Salmon capital of New Zealand with salmon and trout found in the River. Recreational rafting, kayaking, jet-boating, are also enjoyed on this river. Evidently, during the fishing season between October and April, anglers can be seen lining the river mouth 20 kilometres east of the town, and there is the Rakaia Salmon Fishing Competition held at the end of February..... extremely popular.
Sounds like the fishing is very good here!Related to:
- Sailing and Boating
- Road Trip
Coffee on a Toilet Seat - CLOSED DOWN
Update 25 July 2009
What a pity - the Bathroom Café has closed down. Despite its inner city location I have never seen a lot of people there - perhaps because they thought, like me at the start, that this was no café but a plumbing shop :-( Now there is a sterile bar/café. I wonder how long it will be there...
Ok, ok... This should rather be a restaurant tip as I will recommend you to have a drink at the Picasso Bathroom Café. But as you will sit on a toilet seat for coffee or exotic drinks, and use toilet paper from a toilet roll holder instead of a napkin, and it is rather new and not many people know about it, I rather consider it as an Off the Beaten Path tip.
Yes, you read correctly. Toilet seat. The whole place is furnished with toilet units with those fancy colourful seats, including flush boxes. Please, do only use them for sitting on them with the lid closed ;-)
The idea behind it is that in our busy world of mobile phones and internet, many of us think they always have to be available, and multi-task, and the toilet is the last bastion to find peace and personal space and time. Ya, the owner, thinks you should come to his place to escape the demands of the day, relax and enjoy your favourite beverages.
The added "Picasso" in the name just comes from Ya's love for Picasso - and because toilet seats in a café have a surreal feeling as well.
I must say, the toilet seats are not the ultimate seats to lean back but as long as you sit upright and do not want to cuddle with the one next to you, they are perfectly fine.
I also enjoyed my drinks. But I must admit, I did not risk too much and kept to a safe choice of papaya milk which was very nicely presented. If you are no coward try a taro milk tea, a lychee honeydoo or even a Picasso Snow - which is shaved ice with green or red beans, and if you need more, add coconut jelly. From South Korea I know that this is totally normal ;-)
They also serve rather normal meals, for example Eggs Benedict, Bacon & Eggs on toast, sushi, Teriyaki chicken on rice, fried chicken wings etc.
The café is at the corner of Manchester and Hereford Streets in the city.
I only discovered it six weeks after the opening. I had walked past it many times without noticing because I had thought it was a shop for bathroom accessories LOL
Open Mon - Sat 10.30am - late, Sun 12pm - late.Related to:
- Food and Dining
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Amberley Day Trip
Amberley is located about 50Km north of Christchurch and is a small town that most just pass through. It's a good spot to stop for a cup of tea or pick up you bottle of water for the longer trek to Kaikoura or Picton.
Amberley has several shops and a nice Golf Course located near the beach and the even smaller community of Amberley Beach. This area has suffered from recent flooding but is almost dried out now.
There is good surf fishing on the beach and great views all the way back down Pegasus Bay to Christchurch. The Amberley River runs its course near here and it's also a good spot for a visit and a bit of a swim if the river is up high enough.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Arts and Culture
The Magnificent Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament
Every time I walk or drive past the wonderful Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Barbadoes Street I get the feeling it is a kind of forgotten place, and it seems as if it was not blessed with its location, as beautiful and peaceful as it is. Although it is still within walking distance from the very city centre, and on the way to AMI Stadium, and just a stonethrow away from Pak'n'Save, it is off the beaten path, with no other gems of architecture or history nearby mentioned in travel guides. Every time I pass I see it completely deserted - which even contributes more to its marvellous beauty. It looks absolutely fascinating when the evening sun paints a warm shine on the cool white fassade, the two main towers on the street side dominating the sky, with no other buildings disturbing the perfect picture.
The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament is a Roman Catholic church. The foundation stone was laid in 1901, and it was opened in 1905. The style is Roman Renaissance, that is why it is often referred to as "The Basilica". The dome is placed above the sanctuary. The architect was Francis Petrie, a NZ born man with English ancestors.
The interiour has wonderful arcades , colonnades and arches, and although it is massive it still looks gracious. It undoubtedly is a wonderful piece of architecture which has impressed small people and great poets like George Bernard Shaw alike.
Sun 7.30am, 12.10pm, 7pm
Public Holidays 8.00amRelated to:
- Historical Travel
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Right at the northern tip of Lyttleton Harbour, the high cliffs and open spaces of Godley Head offer wonderful views across to the Port Hills and the quaintly named hamlet of Taylors Mistake. (Who was Taylor and what did he get wrong? It seems he was a sea captain who mistook the little cove for the vastly bigger Lyttleton Harbour - quite some mistake!). Beyond the high hills you can see the long spit that shelters the Avon esturay from the Pacific. New Brighton's Rockinghorse Road (another cute name) runs right down the spine of the spit.
Godley Head itself is popular with walkers and there are several well-marked trails within the reserve. On a fine day, it makes a great picnic spot but it is very exposed and can be very wild and windy. Right out at the end you'll find relics of New Zealand's wartime defence system - a coastal defence battery, now an important heritage site. Two of the five gun emplacements are open to visitors. Bring a torch if you want to explore the blasting tunnels.
To get there by car, either take the Evans Pass Road out of Sumner or Summit Road from Lyttleton. It's about 10km from Lyttleton to the far end of the Head, the views are great all the way
Public transport is only available as far as Sumner and Lyttelton - a fair hike whichever you choose..Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Hiking and Walking
A new Maori Experience on the Styx River
At the start of November 2007 a new Maori venture has been launched. Katoro Maori Tours offer tours in a waka, a Maori canoe that seats up to 14 people. The waka travels on the Styx River to historical Maori sites. You can learn a lot about the history of Ngai Tahu, the South Island's biggest Maori tribe, and learn about traditional fishing techniques and harvesting.
You are picked up by a Maori story teller, then transported to old Maori sites (pa), and the Styx River - Paharakeke in the Maori language Te Reo. This river is in the northern suburbs of Christchurch, and the waka are located at the lakes at the eastern end of the Styx river.
After a prayer (karakia) the training of the paddlers - you! - will begin, and after that the newly formed team will start its journey down the river. The guides explain Maori values and culture, give information about the history and ecosystem. You will see native plants and learn about the wildlife you see along the way.
If you want you can add a visit to the Willowbank, my favourite wildlife park in NZ, to your programme. There you can see kiwi in a night house, and you can attend the Kotane Maori show.
Morning sailings start at 9am, and you will be back in the city by 1pm. Pick-up for the optional programme at the Willowbank is at 4.30pm on Cathedral Square.
Afternoon departure at 2pm
Costs (as Feb. 2008)
Waka tour NZ$ 95
Waka tour plus Kiwi Wildlife Tour at the Willowbank NZ$ 116
Waka tour, wildlife tour plus Maori show Kotane NZ$ 140Related to:
- Historical Travel
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The Shags of the Botanic Garden
I have no idea since when the shags are nesting in the Botanic Garden. I only spotted them this summer (2007/2008) because some of them were flying low and one was sitting on a little artificial island in the pond by the information centre. So I looked a bit higher than normally – and saw all those nests high in the trees, and some baby shags begging for food and stretching their necks, and junior shags fighting.
Obviously most of them fly to the outskirts of Christchurch during the day and come back to their tree home in the evening to roost. So the best time to see them outside the breeding season is morning and evening. The best time for watching and photographing the nests is early morning, otherwise you have to look against the sun.
As it has taken me several years to spot those pied shags I post this tip under Off the Beaten Path ;-) Everyone I have spoken to after my discovery was totally surprised about the news that those shorebirds have a nesting site in the centre of the city.
I have been at this place very often as there is a nice pond beside the information centre, and I often sit there and watch and feed ducks, scaups and sparrows. Sure, late spring/early summer is the nicest time when they all have their young.
When watching the birds I was surprised to see that the shags and the ducks do not mind each other’s company. Sometimes one single shag shares a little area of the lawn with ten or twenty ducks, and there is no problem. The trouble only starts when the Paradise shellducks arrive. They terrorise the whole flock, chase them, and all the rest flee to the water after the noisy arrival of those beautiful but not really nice rivals.
The information centre is located at the carpark entrance. Access is from Armagh St/Rolleston Ave, and also from the other side of Hagley Park near the Riccarton Rd/Blenheim Rd roundabouts. Or you walk some minutes from the entrance opposite the Arts Centre. Just follow the signs. Beside the information centre is the Botanic Gardens Café.Related to:
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St. Mary’s of Merivale
I do not distinguish between religious and non-religious people. I have met bad Catholics who treated protestants in a nearly racist way, and good non-religious people. So I prefer to distinguish between good and bad people. The institution of the church has a deterring effect on me!
This parish of St. Mary’s in Merivale (Anglican) has given me a very good feeling with its open and welcoming atmosphere. They do not care who you are and what or in whom you believe, they just seem to be there for people in need and the community. Not that I had cared – but it is very positive to know that such places exist. In their info brochure they say: “St. Mary’s is open for everyone to use each day for prayer, quiet times and reflection.”
I also quite like this church which was started in 1926 and completed in 1927. It succeeded the first Church of St. Mary’s which was a wooden building, built in 1866. On this photo from the City Library you can see the original church which was a Chapel of Ease to St. Paul’s in Papanui, and looked totally different. It was located on the sundial lawn to the west of the present church.
The cloister area between the hall and the church was added in 1965. The parish centre, at the corner of Papanui Road and Church Lane, completes the complex. It is known as Gossett Hall. The church itself, made of dark granite in Gothic revival style, is sitting along super-quiet Church Lane. It has a very nice and rather impressive organ, beautiful stained glass windows, and very nice woodworks and a wooden ceiling.
Parish Office open Mon – Fri 9am – 3pm
Sunday Services at 8am, 10am (they write: Please stay for a cup of tea…), additionally at 11.30am every second Sunday, and at 5.30pm every fourth Sunday. Changing times during the week.
30 Church Lane, Merivale
Located some metres from the main road (Papanui Road) between Merivale Mall and Bealey Avenue, about 1 km north of the city centre.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Hands-on in the Air Force Museum
This information is based on what my husband says about the Air Force Museum. It is hailed as a big attraction but I am not particularly interested in this kind of museum and technology, so do not intend to visit. It is a 15 minutes drive from the city centre.
The exhibits include 28 aircraft – but what fascinates hubby most is the possibility to look behind the scenes where they restore old aircrafts, and have fun in the flight simulators.
He says the museum is absolutely worth the visit for grown-ups and children as well – just not for me LOL Even former US president Bill Clinton has been there. They hold themed function and have education programmes for children.
Open daily (except Christmas Day) 10am – 5pm
Free guided tours
45 Harvard Avenue, Wigram
By Car: From the city centre on Main South Road (direction Timaru). When you see an aeroplane on your left, turn left.
By Bus: From the Bus Exchange in the city centre the red buses # 5 (Hornby) and 81 (Lincoln) stop near the museum on Main South Road.Related to:
- Museum Visits
Centre of Contemporary Art (COCA)
I think I had walked past COCA about a million times without really noticing it LOL Somehow it did not attract my attention.
It did when I saw a photo in brochure. This photo showed an installation of the Peacock Fountain by Victoria Bell. It is very similar to the original in the Botanic Garden – and on the other hand totally different. The size, the colours (yellow and red). It looks like made of candies and beads, and I just had to see it.
But what a disappointment! The fountain was not there anymore. This is the problem you know about travel guides. When they are published half of the content should already be rewritten again. And when this brochure with the intriguing photo came out of print the Peacock Fountain went somewhere else.
I am sure they were pleased that I looked into every corner of the two-storey exhibition rooms. But it was just to be really disappointed because my search was in vain LOL
I quite liked some artworks of school children who had designed the most imaginative bags, and some of the huge greenstone (pounamu/jade) carvings. The rest of the paintings and objects were not really my taste. However, this might change within some weeks or months with the ever changing exhibits – although I must admit that I do not have a lot of understanding for ultramodern art and most times do not like it.
The gallery has been an important institution for more than 120 years. It represents established and emerging artists in the genres of painting, printmaking, installation, design, craft and photography. The exhibitions chance every three weeks, so more than 60 exhibitions are held every year.
As photographing was not allowed and surveillance cameras everywhere I only took a photo from the outside… ;-)
Open Mon – Fri 10am – 5pm, Sat and Sun 12pm – 4pm
Walk down Gloucester Street towards the Botanic Garden, past the City Library (official name: Central Library), cross the Avon. After the next traffic light it is on the left side of the street /no. 66).Related to:
- Arts and Culture
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Marvellous and Unique St. Michael’s and All Angels
Finally I have made it into this Parish Church in the city centre. Although only some steps from the City Mall, on Oxford Terrace, across Lichfield Street, it is a bit off the radar. Many, many times I had walked and driven past, and now I wonder how I could have waited several years with my visit. It is an incredibly beautiful and unique church. I even think it is one of Christchurch’s most spectacular landmarks – and the least known.
Already the outside of this perfectly preserved example of a colonial Victorian church is very special, as the belfry stands apart. But regarding the simple white wooden construction, you would not expect this spectacular interior. I admit, for a moment I was speechless. I stepped inside the church via the parish office, and the nice lady turned some more lights on for me, and gave me some brochures, and soon after the organist arrived for his routine, and played his instrument. As I was the only visitor I regarded it as my private concert. Lucky me. What a wonderful time!
The first impression I got was that of a massive Knights Hall in a medieval European castle. With its dark wooden ceiling and the timber beams it has a warm atmosphere, which is complemented by the wonderful stained glass windows which you do not recognise from the outside as such.
Forget the Cathedral: St. Michael and All Angels is the Mother Church of Canterbury. Established in 1851, it was the first church built by the European settlers in Christchurch. Like other churches in the area, the first building obviously was not very sound. The one you see is the third on the site. It was designed by W.F. Crisp and consecrated in 1872. It is one of the finest wooden churches in NZ, and one of the world's largest Gothic timber churches.
Open Mo – Fr 10am – 4.30pm, Weekends 2pm – 4.30pm. Winter Mo – Thu 9am – 4.30pm, Fr 1pm – 4.30pm.
Sunday Mass 8am, 10am, 7pm (winter 5pm)Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Religious Travel
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Sign of the Takahe: More than expensive Dinners
The Sign of the Takahe has just got new owners who have warmed up the tradition of using this place as an upmarket restaurant and function venue. It is a great place for weddings, with its rustic charm of a small European Knights Castle. The gardens offer sweeping views over the city.
Like the other "Signs" the Sign of the Takahe, located at an elevated position on Dyers Pass Road, on the way to the Summit Road, is an historic stone building. Those buildings were tearooms in the early days, and planned as staging points on the way to Akaroa. At the time the people did not get much further on the weekends. Whereas the Sign of the Bellbird has become a well-maintained shelter with picnic facilities, the Sign of the Kiwi at the cross-roads with the Summit Road has returned to its original purpose as tearooms, and the Sign of Takahe attracts - thanks to its proximity to the city - fans of fine dining.
I have not eaten there since the reopening but I have read a review. The food was a mixed bag, from delicious to average, and it took ages until the food arrived. The reviewer suggested to have a snack at home before going to dinner at the Sign of the Takahe. (If you are not into the details of NZ wildlife: Takahe is a big flightless bird that only survives on predator-free islands.)
The first stone was laid in 1908 but the building did not open until 1949 when the Christchurch City Council took over.
You can walk around in the gardens without being a restaurant customer. There is even a public toilet. Those gardens are the closest place to the city centre from where you have great views over the city and the Canterbury Plains.
You reach the Sign of the Takahe by bus #10 (Cashmere), it is the final stop. By car just drive down Colombo Street. From its southern end it continues as Dyers Pass Road. The Sign of the Takahe appears on your left.
It is a nice stop-over on the way to Victoria Park and the Summit Road.
Restaurant open Tue - Sat 6pm - 11pm, café and bar daily 8am - 11pm
Address: 200 Hackthorne RoadRelated to:
- Historical Travel
- Road Trip
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