Michael Esposito has been Managing Director of the locally-owned company behind many of Christchurch’s most iconic attractions for more than a decade.
Welcome Aboard runs the Christchurch Gondola, Christchurch Tram Tour, Tramway Restaurant, Punting on the Avon, Botanic Gardens Tour, Christchurch Grand Tour and Hanmer Springs Attractions.
The company’s future was uncertain following the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, when historical tram services ground to a halt after the CBD was red zoned. The gondola, perched high up on the Port Hills, was closed to perceived rock fall risk.
Esposito says everyone was happy to see the tram up and running again two years after the quakes. “It was quite an emotional thing.” Tram goers are interested in hearing about where the city is heading and what’s new. “Each tram driver has a different take on the tour, so each ride is different.”
The gondola re-opened in 2013, offering up stunning views from its perch high up on the Port Hills. Specialised ‘boulder catchers’ were developed to manage the rock fall hazard – the first of their kind in the southern hemisphere. Esposito says it is interesting how the gondola hosts more locals now than what it did before the quake. “Most tourists think it is a peaceful and special place."
He loves Christchurch’s “easy living”, with rivers, lakes, beaches and mountains all within short travel distances. Visitors often ask why the rebuild is taking so long, “however, they are quick to back that up with how they can’t wait to come back to see the progress of what will be an exciting city”.
Michael Esposito’s top five things to do in Christchurch
- Walk around the hills and beach at Sumner.
- Visit the great variety of restaurants on offer.
- Use the city as a base to explore Canterbury and the rest of the South Island.
- Mt Cavendish – go up the gondola and explore the tracks.
- Walk around town and see the progress.
How to get there
Christchurch is New Zealand's second-largest city. It has an international airport and there are regular flights from other domestic centres.
Best time to visit
In autumn, the changing of the leaves makes the city’s historic districts especially beautiful. With ski areas such as Porters and Mt Hutt nearby, you can enjoy a winter wonderland. Known as 'the Garden City', Christchurch comes to life in spring, while summer is an opportunity to enjoy some of the city’s 40 safe swimming beaches.
How to book
Bookings can be made through Welcome Aboard's website. Passes can also be purchased for all activities at their Cathedral Junction office.