Christchurch by Bike
We joined the guided Christchurch Bike Tour yesterday and I have to say it was our best NZ Travel experience. We have travelled to Christchurch before but had never seen as much as we did in the two hours with our bike tour guide.
We visited the Arts Centre, Cathedral Square, Antigua Boatsheds, Christ’s College, Hagley Park, Riccarton House & Deans Bush, Deans Cottage, Mona Vale Gardens & Fernery and New Regent Street... it was a relaxing bike ride with no hills and lots of information (but not too much to overwhelm us).
We highly recommend this tour for all that enjoy the outdoors and exploring the sites. Such fun and very good value. We paid $40 each - this included a bike, helmet, sash and guide.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Tour the City in one of Jack's Vintage Cars
This is not cheap but different and very suitable for special occasions like weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and any other kind of celebration: to tour the city in a vintage car, chauffeured by a lovable old Canadian chap named Jack.
I normally see him and his 1928 Dodge Sedan (6 cylinders) on Worcester Bvd in front of the Arts Centre, waiting for customers.
If you want to tour the city in a different vintage car, those are available:
a 1938 Dodge Sedan
a 1938 V-8 Ford Sedan
and a 1930 Model "A" Ford Touring Car.
Jack offers a half-hour city tour for NZ$ 60. You would see the inner city as well as the Mona Vale Homestead and its beautiful gardens.
Also on offer is a 2.5 hour drive through tour to Orana Wildlife Park. In good weather conditions Jack would use an open car for the tour. For up to three passengers this would cost NZ$ 95 per person including admission, when you are four it costs NZ$ 90 per person.
Other tours are to the Motorcycle Museum and to the model display of Pegasus Town (which is the world's largest model town, near the Westpac Stadium - the real town is north of Christchurch). NZ$ 80 per car.
Hotel pick-ups are available.
We came across this gorge by chance.
It was so beautiful, its one of my most memorable places we visited in NZ.
I have found out that its 261 million years old. This river is what you call "braided" which is like a lot of the NZ rivers and was a beautiful colour blue. If you stop up the hill, you can get some good photos looking down into the gorge.
You can do the Rakaia gorge scenic jet boat ride for $50.
The jetboating website for more info is: www.travelindex.co.nz
A beautiful spot in New Zealand!Related to:
- Road Trip
Day trip to AKAROA
If you can, I think this is another must do!
Located only 75 kms from Christchurch, Akaroa is a historic French and British settlement nestled in the heart of an ancient volcano. The journey to Akaroa is nice, passing by lovely rural scenery, winding its way along the hill side of Banks Peninsula and past the lagoon of Lake Ellesmere where we saw some birdlife.
Make sure you are not travelling fast, because at the hill top before descending down to Akaroa is a stunning view that you will not want to miss!
The drive takes about 1hr 30mins.
We thought this village was very pretty, lots of 'cute' buildings, colonial architecture, galleries, craft stores, and cafes.
Lunch was bought from the Bakery which was extremely busy, then we sat and ate it by the water front. As we had our own vehicle, we drove both sides of the harbour, both have nice views.
There are activities that you can do here, like Harbour cruises and seeing the Hector Dolphins, we didn't do this.
If you do not have a car, you can still get here by a shuttle bus that departs Christchurch daily Outside Christchurch Visitors Centre in Cathedral Square 8:30 am ...2:00 pm
Friday Only Service (Reservations essential) 4:30 pm
Departs AKAROA daily from Akaroa Information Centre 10:30 am .. 3:35 pm
There are scenic tours too....$110 pp return ..... Lunch includedRelated to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
TRANZ ALPINE TRAIN JOURNEY
The TranzAlpine – Christchurch to Greymouth, is rated one of the world’s great scenic railway journeys!
This scenic train journey starts in Christchurch, takes you across the Canterbury Plains, over Arthurs Pass to Greymouth on the west coast. I stood out the back in the open carriage, good spot for taking photos.
The scenery changes constantly, 1st of all fields, then gorges, Waimakariri River, Southern Alps and lush beech rain forest to the West Coast town of Greymouth.
You stop at Arthurs Pass, and also at Greymouth.
We bought a return pass, so had lunch at Greymouth, then returned by train, passing through 16 tunnels, one of them, quite long and steep on the way back. You also cross over 5 viaducts on the 225 k trip.
The trip takes approx 41/2hours, one-way.
The train leaves at 8.15 am at the railway station at Addington, about 3ks from the city centre.
From Greymouth, it departs at 13.45pm.
You can make a seating request, the seats are allocated at departure, not when you are booking. They also like you to arrive at the station about 20mins before hand, its quite busy.
Return fare in 2010 is $199
They do have specials, so check the website for a cheaper price.Related to:
While walking Cathedral Square, we noticed the heritage trams, found out where they went, and off we went on a tour.
The Trams operate over 2.5 km , and make 11 stops where you can get on and off as many times as you wish over a period of 2days.
It runs through central Christchurch.
STOPS ARE AT............
1.....Cathedral Square where the lovely Christchurch Cathedral is located, WW1 memorial, the Chalice Sculpture, as well as large size chess, plus markets, and you may see the Town Crier!
2....Worcester Bridge is where you can get off to go Punting on the Avon river.
3....is the Art Gallery... and....
4...... is the Art Centre which is in the former Christchurch University buildings, we enjoyed our visit in here!
5.....Clock Tower is where you can get off and visit the Canterbury Museum & Botanic Gardens, both are worth a visit.
6..... Is Hagley Park which has Lake Victoria and Christ's college.
8.. ..The Casino, and you can catch catch the bus to the Christchurch Gondola here, a must do!
9..... Victoria Square with the River Avon, a real pretty park, especially with the punts going by.
10..... New Regent Street which has many specialty shops
11..... Tram Station is the final stop at cathedral junction
We thought the tour was really good, the whole route only takes 30mins if you stay on and don't get off! We were the only ones at the start, so the conducter spent time telling us about Christchurch which was really nice of him. A commentary is included in the price.
You can buy your ticket onboard.
Summer... 9am until 9pm (1 November - 31 March)
Winter..... 9am until 6pm (1 April - 31 October)
2010 PRICES ARE.....Adults $15.. Child $5...Family pass $35
Tram & Gondola combo $35
There are other passes available, please check their good website for more information.Related to:
- Museum Visits
Seeing Christchurch by Bike
We had a wonderful experience when we toured the city of Christchurch over two hours with Christchurch Bike Tours. Our lovely guide Jax took us exploring - my highlight personally was going through Mona Vale Gardens and the fernery (where we saw three silver ferns). We found Christchurch the perfect place for biking - it's so flat.... we are not that fit but found it easy and enjoyed a little exercise after our long plane trip. We def. think seeing this city by bike rather than coach is the way to go... Happy travelling! PS I think there are also options of hiring cycles but we prefered having a guide, she knew so much and it was about the same price so made sense to get her to show us around.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Doing the Haka at Ko Tane
Willowbank Wildlife Reserve hosts the Maori cultural adventure Ko Tane... and an adventure it is!
After an initial briefing by an imposing Moari lady - dressed in traditional garb - we posed for a photograph with scary looking Maori warriors. Having formed a tourist tribe, our leader lead us back into history through an idyllic green forest. We were suddenly shocked into immobility by a group of Maori scouts! In an elaborate and tense confrontation, the scouting party established we were completely lacking in warlike cojones... and they reciprocated our goodwill by inviting us into their village for a celebratory party with music and dance.
Most visitors joined in the interactive fun, which included the boys going on stage to perform the Haka. Great fun!Related to:
- Family Travel
- Arts and Culture
Roman Renaissance in Christchurch
The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament is regarded by some commentators as "one of the finest examples of church architecture in Australasia. " I have to say I agree...
Despite copious amounts of pre-departure research, I had somehow missed putting this building on our itinerary "places to see." However, there was no missing the Cathedral's imposing presence in Barbadoes Street as we were on our way to visit the Port Hills. The dome above the sanctuary and the rows of columns simply demanded attention and respect.
The foundation for this Basilica was laid in 1901 on the site of the original wooden church built in 1860. Designed by B.W. Mountford, the Cathedral features in the publication, "World Architecture 1900-2000: A Critical Mosaic".
A magnificent building...Related to:
- Religious Travel
- Historical Travel
Between Moncks Bay and Clifton off Main Road, Shag Rock issues a powerful invitation to stroll along the wide beaches and inspect its craggy countenance. The massive rock looks out over The Spit towards Southshore.
When we were there, locals took advantage of the deeper pools around Shag Rock to cool down in the hot weather.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
- Budget Travel
Christ's College: an architectural delight
Don't leave Christchurch without seeing the architecturally rich Christ's College, an Anglican secondary day and boarding school for boys. It is the oldest and arguably most prestigious secondary school in New Zealand.
Modelled on the public schools of England, this renowned centre of learning has been on its current site since 1856. The predominantly neogothic buildings stand in stoic splendour around an emerald green quadrangle. The oldest building is Big School, now the library, built in 1863.
We were fortunate enough to enter the collegiate Gothic Memorial Dining Hall, built in 1928 and in the process of being renovated during our visit. It was amazing to see how the renovators had stripped off all the old varnish, allowing the natural lustre of the timber to shine through.
Tours take place in spring and summer at 10am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and cost $5pp.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
Take a tram ride
If you have not been to Christchurch before take a tram ride. For $15 you can hop on and off the tram that goes around the city centre. The tram driver gives a guided tour while you travel and some of them are very entertaining. They tell you a little local history and you can get off and do a bit of shopping or visit a museum and then jump back on and carry on around. The trip takes about 30 minutes in total and trams come every 8 minutes so you are never waiting long. Nice way to spend a morning.
Southern Encounter Aquarium & Kiwi House
As I am an enthusiastic supporter of the Willowbank I would normally not bother visiting the Southern Encounter on Cathedral Square. BUT… There are good reasons for going there:
1. If you are really interested in aquariums.
2. If you have limited time and no other chance to see kiwi and tuatara.
Let’s talk about the latter. They have two female kiwi behind glass in rather a small viewing room, and seeing them is nearly guaranteed. A limited number of visitors can go into this dark area at a time. Dark - because kiwi are nocturnal, and to give you a possibility to have a look at them foraging in their enclosure their night and day rhythm is changed, with the lights going on and the birds going to sleep when the Southern Encounter closes its doors. The experience does not compare to the close encounters at the Willowbank Wildlife Park where no glass separates you from the kiwi, you can hear them, and there are a lot more birds, and the enclosure is huge. But I think the Southern Encounter is a good alternative if you have no time to drive to the Willowbank which is in the northern outskirts of Christchurch, and spend two or three hours there.
Also tuatara viewing is nearly guaranteed at the Southern Encounter. Those only surviving relatives of the dinosaurs are also behind glass, and as the temperatures are stable there is always a chance to see them. At the Willowbank they are in more natural surroundings, and do not come out when it is too cold for them. They also have rare geckos.
Although I am not passionate about aquariums I found the fish basins more interesting than expected. There are hands-on experiences, like the Touch Tank, and every now you can watch the staff feeding some of the big fish species.
Southern Encounter is a non-profit organisation and is the inner-city arm of Orana Park which is a mixture of wildlife park and zoo, located on McLean’s Island near the airport.
Open daily (except Christmas Day) 9am – 5pm, kiwi viewing 10.30am – 4.30pm (but best before 2.30pm).
Admission NZ$ 15.
Update 17 September 2008
Until lately the entrances of the Southern Encounter were more or less hidden in the Visitor Centre and a clothing shop. Now it has its own very well visible entrance and its own gift shop at the site of the former Pathway clothing shop, just some steps from the Visitor Centre (to the right if you stand in front of it). The retail manager of the Southern Encounter shop told me he has been living in Christchurch for 35 years and had not known about the Southern Encounter! So it was high time to create this new access ;-)
On photos 2 to 4 you see another shot of the Aquarium, water turtles and a tuatara.Related to:
History and animals...
The Willowbank Wildlife Reserve is part zoo, part animal history, part live animal show and lots, lots more as well.
I especially enjoyed the Natural New Zealand area which emphasizes native fauna and flora both alive and extinct.
Had a good dinner there too ;)Related to:
- Family Travel
EXPLORING MT. HUTT near Christchurch
While the more popular ski town of Queenstown is the main tourist attraction when it comes to skiing and snow experience, near Christchurch the tourist can already gain this.
Mt. Hutt is in the little country town of METHVEN, over an hour from Christchurch. It is easily accessible although care must be exercised when driving in snow covered roads there.
Whether you are a skier or not (like me) an experience at Mt. Hutt is always memorable! The cold and the powdery snow will be hard to forget, trust me on this, especially as we were not prepared for the extreme cold when we were there. We thought it would not be that cool as we didn't need snow chains for our car ! But once near the top, it was freezing but the sight of pure white snow was certainly a pleasant distraction coming from warm Sydney (even in winter, as snow is only in the mountains around 6 -8 hours away).
All sorts of skiers and non-skiers are catered for here, even accommodation here is readily available. Ski schools offer great lessons for beginners to the more advanced ones.
But the cold kept us away from the snow though we did enjoy the lovely views. To our disappointment, there were no toboggans available for hire there. Of course there are ample amenities, like cafe, souvenir shops where we got our expensive globes and scarves, etc. We left our accessories in the motel and were nto prepared to freeze so we got new ones, especially with thermal lining.
I discovered later they were lots cheaper in downtown Queenstown! Oh well, so avoid the skie shops at the resort!Related to:
- Adventure Travel
- Family Travel
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