I spent the day touring around Christchurch. I started the day off with a relaxing and leisurely cruise down the Avon river in a punting boat curtesy of my tour guide who told me all about the plant and animal life that now inhabits the river. I had the pleasure of enjoying this boat all to myself.
After that experience I boarded a shuttle bus that took me to the bottom of Mt. Cavendish where I boarded what New Zealander’s call a gondola but what I would call an enclosed chairlift where it took me 945 meters up the side of the mountain. The top of the Port Hills which is the cluster of hills that Mt. Cavendish is a part of is 500 meters above sea level. The views that I saw from the top overlooked the city and its suburbs as well as Lake Ellesmere and Lyttelton Harbour.
Next on the to do list for the day was back into the city to take a walk through the free Canterbury museum which was actually pretty cool. They had a lot of exhibits about the history of New Zealand and the Maori culture which is the native culture of New Zealand. A temporary exhibit that was displayed was about flight and its New Zealand history. They had models of old aircrafts as well as a virtual reality of what air travel might be like in the future and I must say it would probably make flying a lot more enjoyable.
Following the museum I headed outside to the Botanical Gardens which was also free to enter and conveniently located next door to the museum where I boarded the caterpillar (not free) which was a 50 minute tour around the gardens talking about all the different plant species that exists within the garden and about the history of how the garden came to be. The land was donated by a pair of brothers to the city who wanted a buffer between their farm and the city that was being built. The gardens are 75 acres and has the Avon river which is spring fed running through it and surrounding it on 3 sides. There were a lot of different plants that I could talk about such as the cacti garden and the rose garden and the geraniums as well as the sensory garden which has all sorts of plants that have unique smells such as rosemary and curry; there was also this one flower that smelled like chocolate.
After the Botanical Gardens I ended my day by boarding the Christchurch Tramway for a 17 stop loop around the city centre where I saw a lot of historic buildings, Hagley Park and the damage that was done by the recent earthquakes. It was eye opening to see the damage that was done and to hear about people talk about that day and the rebuild that has had to occur. The city centre was hit the hardest and they had it quarantined off so that people were not allowed into the city centre you could leave but not get downtown. There was no hydro, water or sewage or even landlines. I don’t think I can even imagine what people were doing trying to get in contact with loved ones that might have been in the city.
All in all a very good day off in my books.