Things To Do In Christchurch
Welcome to a dynamic city on the move and still reeling from the repercussions of New Zealand’s 2011 earthquake. Generally the most English of New Zealand’s urban areas, the city of Christchurch is currently including an advanced and progressive layer to its injured land and spirit with the help of tourism. This volcanic peninsula and landscapes of bays and well cut fjords hold many varied points of interest to help their country rise again.
At the Hagley Park, the Rose Garden is one of its specialties along with seeing the rich collection of all kinds of flowers and plants that are endemic to New Zealand. After a tour of the city, spend an insightful visit to the Quake City. It is an open air museum that keeps the memory of the departed and also the old buildings that were destroyed. An eye opening journey and a must see when in Christchurch City.
When To Go:
The city can be explored all year-round; however spending the holidays in specific months could be considerably more charming than others. Temperatures in this second largest city are never excessively great, yet there are times of the year when it is simply cool and ideal for long promenade walks. The seasons in New Zealand (or wherever in the southern half of the globe) are totally opposite of those in the northern side of the equator. The most humid times of the year are in the late spring months of January, & February, in which time the high temperatures will move up to the high 70's - mid 80's. The coldest time of the year occurs during the winter months of June and July, where the temperatures can drop up to the mid 30's.
In spite of the fact that the winters are not to a great degree unkind temperature-wise, the days are observably short. By June, the sun goes up at around 8am and sets at around 5pm, leaving just nine hours of light. Occasional downpour and thunderstorms also occur all year round in Christchurch, yet the winter months are for the most part cloudier than the late spring months. The month of May is considered the rainiest month in the city.
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These are the top things to do when in Christchurch city.
It is a small peninsula that is located on the south of Christchurch city which is worth a visit and the best starting point to learn about the Canterbury region. The Akaroa Village has been a strong French influence, and it shows both in the design of the streets and in the culinary tastes offered by the restaurants you can find within this area. You will love the cool atmosphere in the city and from the small streets of the Banks Peninsula you can enjoy magnificent views.
Head there to see breathtaking scenery and take a boat trip to see the dolphins. The scenic route is challenging but the landscapes are worth all the effort. There are many ways to reach the Akaroa. Of course there is the Highway and Summit Road, but if you intend to go around and see everything, try the Nature roads, which can also come across Diamond Harbor and the bays of the north side and then on to the Western Road all the way to the Little River. Actually, the place looks like a miniature New Zealand with many accessible options and the best views anywhere. A tip: you can go behind Akaroa and still come to a small Marae (Maori community). The road ends a few miles of farm access roads and beautiful views over the bay.
Christchurch Botanic Gardens
At the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, the admission is free, there are different themes in different corners, bridges over small rivers, all very nice and the best way to understand and identify the rich fauna of the city. It is a well maintained complex and guests mostly stay and spend time in the meadow. Particularly impressive are the old trees, the hydrangea collection, and a host of other exotic plants that can only grow and survive in the capital. It is large, but not overcrowded by too much vegetation. This awesome looking preserved garden is a wonderful blessing that signifies everything must go on despite the earthquake disaster.
The Botanic Garden of Christchurch is a green oasis. It invites everyone to linger and relax. Flowers in all colors and shapes can be admired and photographed. One can easily spend a few hours there, and if possible, bring a book or take an afternoon nap on one of the park benches. The adjoining museum invites you to discover the details of the city. Restaurants and a souvenir shop as well as ample parking (designed for campervans) are also available for everyone’s convenience.
The huge green massif named the Hagley Park is located just in the center of Christchurch. It’s just a stone’s throw away from the famous botanical garden. Rather, it is right across from the River Avon, which flows through the park and through the city, and very hard to miss. Tourists and local residents of Christchurch have the beautiful opportunity here to commune with nature, to walk, to run the bikes, ride and deal with other sports.
There are also tennis courts, several pools, and green lawns. During the walk to the park you will pass a pond filled with a lot of ducks. Schedule your visit on a great weather because it contributes to the good atmosphere and create pleasant impressions. Admission is free and you can combine a tour here with a visit to the nearby horticultural garden which is also free and open to the public.
The Quake City is an exhibition of hardship and misery that provides detailed information of what transpired during the February 22, 2011 and the actual images and saved artifacts from old buildings and recreation of the actual scene of the city center after the big quake. In this site you can also learn a lot about earthquakes, but by far the most impressive is the film with the statements of the witnesses and the rare footages of its aftermath and the recorded small tremors (that can still be felt every now and then by its seismology observation camp).
It is a great opportunity to feel what the people have passed through before, during, and after the great earthquake. And this can happen again at any time but they choose not to leave their beloved country. There is an actual video of the exact time when the earth shook violently, do not fail to see that when you are in Quake City. The most inspiring part is how the city rise from the ashes and it is very evident with the rise of new structures, rebuilding, rehabilitation efforts, and construction projects aimed to bring back the city’s former glory and charm.
The best solution to get from one side of the city to the other southern part of the islands is via the TranzAlpine Train ride experience. Take the one that hails from Christchurch to Greymouth. The railway trip takes about 4 hours and offers a wonderful experience. In the middle of the road, the train stops at the station terminal of Arthur's Pass National Park and go to the edge of the sea. The views are marvelous and provide the best point to see and admire the Alps of New Zealand.
If you try a tour in the winter season, you will be in awe of the great snow capped peaks that appear from one end of the island to the other. Even if the outside temperature is negative, inside the train there are excellent conditions ideal for resting while you travel or if you want to take pictures of the splendid views passed by this famous train. Prepare yourself with a good camera because, during the tour you can see the beautiful valleys, mountains, yachts and waterways that looks so calm and serene from afar. The beautiful scenery and the countryside view from the train are simply incredible.
The Canterbury Museum is a great location on the edge of the Botanical Garden and the nearby Hagley Park. The section on the Antarctic is particularly interesting. The various showrooms are reminiscent of European museums during the period of the sixties. The museum does not require days to be visited and is very well organized, informative and well run.
The section on the Maori tribe is very interesting (complete with large and lifelike dioramas), as well as the one about the Antarctic expeditions. A museum to visit without fail and most importantly, do not forget the voluntary contribution that will maintain this level of quality.
There is also a reconstruction of a street with shops in the early decades of the twentieth century, and for a bit of curiosity; the reconstruction of a portion of the interior of the house for a couple of shell collectors. It looks totally kitsch, but funny and quite touching. The museum offers free admission, but donations are highly recommended.
Air Force Museum
The Air force Museum offers a free admission and inside you can see 3 Skyhawks, a Spitfire, a Hurricane and some planes used during the Second World War. To have a better understanding of the attraction there are air force veterans that maintain the museum and willing to answer questions, share anecdotes, war memories, and tell the story of every plane displayed in the exhibit area. They are there to explain and educate the public and they are simply welcoming, sympathetic, and share their passion with getting acquainted with the visitors. They are really the highlight of this museum.
Orana Wildlife Park
The Orana Wildlife Park is a functional small wildlife park, which also has a shuttle that goes around free. A schedule is provided to assist in visiting the animals and this is strictly enforced to respect the time of rest of the animals. One can approach and feed the giraffes, explore the animal farm, and get very close to the rhinos. There is a playground for children, restrooms around the park and a small cafe.
If you have your tour scheduled early in the morning, you can actually spend a wonderful and exciting day. The enclosures are absolutely spacious and the animals have more freedom to walk and explore their territory and just like the whole area every cage is very clean and well maintained. The created waters are unparalleled. Highly recommended are the Lionbridge and Cheetah Encounters. These are truly unforgettable experiences when in Christchurch city.
The Christchurch Gondola is the type of cable ride that you will want to try when in the city to see the rest of its entirety in another dimension. It is a ride that you should definitely use again and again because the view from the mountain over the city and the Alps in the background is huge.
In good weather and holiday season, it may be quite a long wait because of the excited crowds, but they are tolerable. If you feel a bit adventurous, another great option is to boot up the mountain and hike back down after a small kebabs. If the weather is absolutely perfect, then the view is great.
Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
The Willowbank Wildlife Reserve is a cute zoo that provides a good opportunity to get acquainted with the animals which have been introduced in NZ and the origins of other native species. The tour begins with a walk through the discovery of New Zealand on the basis of the different species found here. The accommodation is beautifully laid out and when possible the animals are allowed to run loose.
Especially the Kea parrots, they are worth a visit, they run and fly loose in the aviary and are not shy at all. They come right at you; interact with their gestures and gives quite a show. The residence of the kiwi`s is very beautiful but this nocturnal animal seldom shows at all. You can certainly feel at ease and spend an hour or three and delight in the close encounter experiences with the tame animals of Christchurch, New Zealand.
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