New Zealanders love horse racing and betting on horses. There are two big race courses in Christchurch with races year-round. The biggest harness and gallops races take place during Cup and Show Week in November, and those are really fun days out. Read more about this on my tips about Local Customs.
Harness (and greyhound) races take place in Addington, gallops in Riccarton.
Race schedule for Addington on www.themet.co.nz
Equipment: Watching the horse races does not mean that you have to show up in your best and fanciest clothes and - women - spectacular hats. You can even bring a blanket to sit on the lawn and a big chilly bin with food and drinks and have a nice picknick. Of course, you can purchase hotdogs and champagne on the racecourses as well. In good weather conditions do not forget sun cream and/or umbrellas.
Several people have asked me for indoor swimming pools in Christchurch, so let me post a selection here.
The best pool is at QEII (Queen Elizabeth II) Park, between Burwood (Travis Wetland) and New Brighton. It even has an Olympic 50m pool, and other nice waterlands.
The other City Council swimming pools are at the Pioneer and Centennial Leisure Centres, the latter even in the city centre but a bit hidden in Armagh Street, and Jellie Park, and Wharenui Sports Centre.
Directions to Centennial Leisure Centre:
Coming from Cathedral Square walk up Colombo Street north, turn right into Armagh Street, the Leisure Centre is after some metres on the left. You also reach it via Oxford Terrace. There is a carpark (parking fee).
The other pools can be reached by bus.
QEII Park, 171 Travis Road, New Brighton, ph. (03) 941 6849
Pioneer Leisure Centre, 75 Lyttelton St, Spreydon, ph. (03) 941 6851
Jellie Park Aqualand, 295 Ilam Rd, Fendalton, ph. (03) 941 6856
Wharenui Sports Centre, Corner Matipo & Elizabeth Streets, Riccarton, ph. (03) 348 6488
Centennial Leisure Centre, Armagh St, City Centre, ph. (03) 941 6853
Jade Stadium is home to the Canterbury Crusaders, in Christchurch. The Stadium is sponsored by JADE Software Corporation who are a New Zealand software company based in Christchurch.
The Canterbury Crusaders are the team that wear red and black and are a very successful team in the Super 12 rugby competition.
Football or Soccer is New Zealand's biggest sport by number of players. In my home town of Christchurch there is a large variety of options from 5 year olds through to over 45's mens grades. I'm currently playing in an over 35's grade (old but not old enough to want to play with the grand-dads LOL) for the Halswell Hawks. It's more about the beer though we never play to come 2nd!!
10 Pin bowling is a fun way to spend part of a day and Christchurch has several options. One of these is Bowlorama in Iverson Tce off Moorhouse Ave. It has 24 lanes and costs around $13 for a game with a lot of speacials when including food & drink or for multiple games.
We had a kids birthday party here recently and they all had a huge amount of fun. For the smaller kids there is a ramp to bowl the balls from which means that everyone can participate.
The centre is fully computerised so you don't have to do anything except bowl your ball when it's your turn. Your name etc is taken by the assistant who loads it into the system. A big screen above your lane displays your name, shows whose turn it is to bowl and all of the scoring. Very easy!!
There is a great service for people who want to explore the Summit Road on their own, without the need to hire a car, but want to do it faster than just walking a stretch on the Crater Rim Walkway, and without the need to make the Hercules effort of getting the bike up the steep slopes of the Port Hills.
Talked to the hire guy who spends his time waiting for customers at the carpark below the Gondola on the Summit Road. Primarily he waits for people who have booked a combined Gondola&MTB tour that takes two hours and costs NZ$ 50. It includes the Gondola ride up to the summit of Mt. Cavendish, the hire of the bike and helmet and pick up back down in the valley. You have to walk 10 minutes downhill from the Gondola summit to the hire bikes. Two hours are allowed for the whole tour. You can choose which way you want to ride along the Summit Road and down the hills. Some people cycle towards the ocean, head down to the suburb of Sumner and back to Heathcote (base station of the Gondola). Others head the other way and ride down the hill – past the Sign of the Kiwi – to Cashmere.
You can also hire a bike for half a day or a full day. They pick you up at your accommodation and anywhere after your tour when you give them a call and advise them your location.
The hire for half a day costs $ 25, for the full day $ 35. The name of the company is The Mountain Bike Adventure Company.
The minimum age for hires is 15 years, and 12 years if the youth is accompanied by an adult.
You can book by phone or directly at the Gondola base and the Chch Visitor Centre on Cathedral Square.
Equipment: They provide everything, not just the bike, including safety helmet, windbreaker, gloves - plus route descriptions.
Westpac Arena is one of the country's largest indoor sports and entertainment venues.
Originally the Westpac Centre, it was built in 1998 and has hosted many international sporting events (including World Cup Netball), rock concerts and exhibitions.
The Arena has also been host to a lot of sporting events including various Tennis Matches, Ice Shows, Disabled Games, Karate Championships, Murderball (aka Wheelchair Rugby) and Gymnastics Competitions. It's also known as 'The Woolshed' by Canterbury Rams basketball fans.
Over the last few years the likes of Bryan Adams, Neil Diamond, Velvet Revolver, R.E.M. and Muse have played here.
It's only ten minutes from the central city and is located beside Addington Raceway (for horces who are keen on either trotting or pacing).
I have listed some areas where you can cycle safely in Christchurch in extra tips (most as Off the Beaten Path tips), like Mc Lean’s Park Forest, Bottle Lake Forest Reserve, and the Little River Rail Trail. See in my Warnings and Danger tip why cycling is so dangerous in the city.
You will find an incredible lot of mountainbike tracks around the city. To my taste, there are not many tracks for people with limited abilities but a fabulous choice for advanced mountainbikers. Since a lady mountainbiker fell to my feet after riding over several rock steps in the Port Hills I have become rather cautious about where I cycle with my mountainbike and where not.
When I saw the guy with the bike on New Brighton Beach you see on my photo I thought that is a fabulous idea for cycling in Christchurch ;-) You are not only safe from rocks and car drivers, you can also watch wildlife, and if you fall you fall softly ;-)
The crew at Sri Chinmoy manage runs all over the world and include Christchurch in their locations. They stage around 8 runs per year with an ultra marathon (100K) in November each year. The location of the events varies between Hagley Park, Sumner and the Avon River Loop.
The runs are fun and you get breakfast (Pancakes with Apple sauce and Chai Latte or Hot Chocolate) at the conclusion. Prizes are given out for the top three places in each distance being run with separate mens and womens divisions plus children. There are also spot prizes drawn at random.
The cost of the 10K for Angie was $18 but you're best to check out the web site below for full details as each distance has a different fee.
This French game is alive and well in the middle of Christchurch. At the old RSA Bowling Club Petanque is now played on the old bowling green converted into the required shingle pit of a Petanque rink. It's similar to bowls in that you are trying to get your ball as close to the cochonnet (a small wodden ball) as possible. It's a lot of fun, especially after a couple of beers, and can be played by anyone who can throw a small metal ball. Petanque is apparently similar to Bocce which has its roots in an ancient Roman game.
Cost is negotiable with an annual fee of $60 though the club will allow casual games if arranged in advance. Check out their website for more info and contact phone numbers.
Equipment: You don't really need anything as your local club has all of the necessary bits and pieces. At the RSABC all of the gear is there.
Christchurch is the home to the provincial rugby side (team) for Canterbury. Each Province in New Zealand fields an all-star team of the best rugby players in their province each year, and the top clubs form what is known as the Air New Zealand Cup Division. Typically, Canterbury is at or near the top of this competition, and alot of their best players go on to play for the Super 14 Canterbury Crusaders, or elsewhere in the world. Canterbury RFU wears black and red as their main colors.
Canterbury plays their matches at AMI (formerly Jade) Stadium and the Provicinal test matches are normally held in July through September, just after national competition is over.
It is definitely worthwhile to check out the schedule for your trip to ChCh, as this is one of the top sporting events to attend in the World.
For those of you who have ever followed World Rugby, I am sure the words Jade Stadium have come up on multiple occassions. Although it is now known as AMI stadium, this place is a wonderful place to watch rugby. It is the home to both the Canterbury Crusaders, a Super-14 team as well as Canterbury's provincial side. I had the opportunity to watch a match, and it was everything I expected! For entertainment value, I also wore the opposing team's colors to the match, yet everyone in the crowd was very accepting of the foreigner who was in the stands cheering against their team.
Ticket prices vary based on the team playing, and ticket outlets are available at various locations around town.
In downtown Christchurch, directly in front of the church is actually a full sized chess board, designed with grey and darker grey tiles on the ground, and someone brings out full sized chess pieces every day. Although we watched the match for quite a while, they never got close enough to each other to actually tackle one another, so I can not be certain it actually was "full contact", but the gentleman playing the white team clearly had a protective helmet on for some reason.
Equipment: The chess pieces are provided, but you may want to bring your helmet just in case!
For those of you who have met me, you will likely know that I played Rugby for 10+ years until my official retirement in 2007. Going to New Zealand in general made me so happy, but especially teary when I would walk through a park and see the touch lines and scrum machines.
The pictures here show a scrum sled, which looks similar to a blocking sled in American football. As illustrated by Sarah, her father Gene and I, there is a proper technique to practicing your scrums. Gene and I are what are called "props" and Sarah in this case is a "hooker". This particular practice took place in North Hagley Park in Christchurch.
If you would like to learn more about proper rugby technique, please schedule a flight to New Zealand, the home of the best rugby team ever to not win a World Cup*.
*As of 2008
Lancaster Park has been the focal point of many big sporting occasions for more than 125 years. Everything from Rugby to Cricket to Athletics and League has been played here though it's Cricket and Rubgy that are the big events. This list actually includes Tennis, Swimming, Softball, Baseball, Trotting (horses), Football (Soccer to some of you), Marching and Hockey.
The ground was opened in 1880 and named the next year after Benjamin Lancaster of Bournemouth England, whom previously owned the land. It has been the sene of many major events including Davis Cup Tennis, World Cup Cricket, World Cup Rugby and even a major religious rally in 1975 (JW's & end of the world stuff - all was ok the next day though).
Currently the park is under reconstruction as part of planning for the 2011 Rugby World Cup so there is limited seating. The new stand will increase capacity to over 50K so lots of spots to sit and watch your favourite game.
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