Christchurch has so much to offer every visitor it’s impossible to get bored. The parks and gardens are the main attraction for many people but there’s so much more including adventure sports, animal reserves, art galleries, museums and even a casino. Here’s a guide to some of the city’s core attractions.
International Antarctic Centre
Experience Antarctica in New Zealand including the freezing weather conditions while learning about the animals and their habitat. The centre is home to rescued blue penguins which can be seen up close by visitors at the Penguin Encounter which is also the first enclosure to combine an indoor and outdoor viewing area for penguins anywhere in the country. Entry starts at $36 and with that visitors can feel as if they’ve been transported to Antarctica by entering the new theatre presentation which adds 4D effects to a 3D film. As audiences watch the film they can literally feel falling snow, chilling winds and water in their faces as the theatre comes alive with sensations. Another favourite among visitors is a ride on the Hagglund, an all terrain vehicle used in the Antarctic that has huge tracks for wheels and carries passengers around the centre.
Christchurch Art Gallery
Travelling from Christchurch hotels the gallery is situated near Cathedral Square and features one of the most comprehensive art collections in New Zealand. The gallery is famous for its works by Canterbury artists as well as pieces that are regularly being updated by other local talents. There are also dedicated exhibitions to international artists and the range of the collections is often diverse consisting of modern art and sculpture, to paintings of classical eras. The gallery also features multimedia exhibits of art using video and audio mediums and even the gallery itself incorporates the latest technology with audio tours by iPod available.
The building that houses the museum’s artefacts is an attraction in itself as it was designed by one of Canterbury’s first settlers, B W Mountfort. The architect was responsible for the majority of Christchurch’s public buildings, many of which have a Gothic style, as is the case with the museum. The exhibits inside cover so many interesting collections from history including Maori displays and the sno-cat tractor which was used to complete the first Antarctic crossing by land. The Asian experience also features Buddha sculptures, Asian treasures and a history of Buddha’s life. There is also another section on the most significant people that helped to shape the country’s history including explorers and sporting legends. Children will love the natural history centre where they can see fossils, tarantulas and learn about so many different animals from the interactive exhibits.
Orana Wildlife Park
For the chance to feed giraffes by hand, meet tigers, rhinos and cheetahs and then get fed to the lions, Orana Park should be top of the list for any wildlife lover. Visitors don’t actually get fed to the lions but they may well feel as if they’re on the menu as a unique caged tour through their reserve allows the beasts to jump on the cage. The lions then get fed by the handlers and it provides a great opportunity to photograph the predators when they’re only centimetres away.
Horse Trek on Waimak River
Tours along the beautiful Waimak River and its captivating woodlands and meadows can be organised through Waimak River Horse Treks. Riders of any experience can take part as there are pony rides suitable for children, wagon rides, or treks ranging from one hour up to a full day’s riding. The guides will assess the ability of everyone taking part and set the pace accordingly and riders then set off through the countryside to explore the stunning areas along the river. Treks can also be combined with wine tastings and jet boating to make for a full on day of activities.
Lek Boonlert is an editor and content reviewer at DirectRooms and is responsible for all Christchurch Hotels content.