It is easy to see why New Zealand’s second largest city was given the name ‘The Garden City’. From on board the Botanical Gardens Caterpillar, the park overflows with shades of green, scattered with paint box splashes of botanical blooms. English rose gardens are meticulously maintained, and sit opposite a stretch of native New Zealand fauna. The Botanical Gardens are only part of Hagley Park, which stretches for 164 hectares and is one of the largest urban parks in the world.
Although a cup of tea would perhaps be more fitting, a stop for a coffee and lunch at the Curator’s House is the ideal place to take a break while enjoying the surroundings. The house was built in 1920 for the curator of the gardens, and the Spanish menu is crafted with fruit and vegetables from the surrounding garden.
The green and white stripes of the heritage listed Antigua boat sheds are the starting point for a Punt down the Avon. Dapperly dressed in Victorian attire, the chivalrous guide helps you on board with a wobble and sway, before they perch expertly on the back of the boat, using the punt to glide it along the river. The ride takes you gently cruising along the Avon, and the view of the banks and park is the perfect setting for a truly relaxing and experience.
After returning to shore, it’s a short stroll back along Rolleston Ave past the historic Arts Centre. Badly damaged in the earthquakes, investors, sponsors and community donations mean the iconic collection of gothic architecture has been restored with a collection of new retailers and tenants, with a large selection opening in 2016.
One of the Christchurch Trams makes its way down Worchester Boulevard towards the museum. The guide is knowledgeable and informative, and the 17 stops along the route mean you can jump off and on and it takes your fancy, perfect for those new to the city. Although the face of Christchurch is currently evolving, the English heritage is still visible in the architecture.
The Spanish Mission style Architecture of New Regent Street prompts a jump off from the tram. Built in the 1920’s the street once had the accolade of ‘the most beautiful in New Zealand’. And you can see why. Boutique shopping, a collection of coffee shops and tucked away restaurants is the perfect location to spend an afternoon.
In an example of heritage restored, the Isaac Theatre Royal is the prime example of preservation and restoration. The beautiful theatre has been lovingly repaired with its original fixtures repaired, and replications made where necessary.
The day is finished at Harlequin Public House, a cosy and sophisticated dining experience in a beautifully restored old wooden villa. Local produce features heavily on Chef Jonny Schwass' menu, which can be described as hearty bistro fare.