I frequently mentioned that New Zealand was on the top of my bucket list. I’ve heard great things about the country. Admittedly, I had no idea what to expect. I picked the destinations based on the award availability, and not realizing New Year was a big celebration in the southern hemisphere.
In this series:
- Introduction: New Year 2020 In The South Pacific
- Turkish Airlines Business Class 777-300ER Los Angeles to Istanbul
- Turkish Airlines Business Class 777-300ER Istanbul to Manila
- Malaysia Airlines Business Class 737-800 Manila to Singapore via Kuala Lumpur
- Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge Satellite Terminal – Kuala Lumpur Airport (KUL)
- Jewel Changi Airport
- Qantas International First Lounge – Singapore Changi (SIN)
- Qantas First Class A380 Singapore to Melbourne
- Qantas International First Lounge – Melbourne (MEL)
- Qantas Business Class 737-800 Melbourne to Christchurch
- Doubletree Chateau on the Park – Christchurch, New Zealand
- Christchurch Botanic Gardens and Tour Around the City
- Getting Lost in the Countryside: Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park
- Air New Zealand Domestic Lounge – Christchurch (CHC)
- Air New Zealand (Premium) Economy 787-9 Christchurch to Auckland
- My First Impression of Auckland, New Zealand
- Adina Apartment Hotel Auckland Britomart, New Zealand
- The North Island Must Do: Hobbiton and Rotorua
- Fiji Airways Business Class A350-900XWB Auckland to Nadi
- Hilton Fiji Beach Resort and Spa – Nadi, Fiji
- Fiji Airways Premier Lounge – Nadi (NAN)
- Fiji Airways Business Class A330-200 Nadi to Singapore
- Malaysia Airlines Business Class 737-800 Singapore to Kuala Lumpur
- Malindo Air Business Class 737-900 Kuala Lumpur to Kathmandu
- Shopping Spree in Thamel – Kathmandu, Nepal
- Cathay Dragon Business Class A330-300 Kathmandu to Hong Kong
- 16-Hour Delay on my American Airlines, with a Happy Ending
- Cathay Pacific First Class 777-300ER Hong Kong to Los Angeles
- Fin: Final Flights and My Closure with American Airlines – It was Good While It Lasted
Initially, I wanted to go to Milford Sound, which means I would need to fly to Queenstown and spend a couple of days there. As I was planning the trip, I found out, and frankly, I was shocked by how much hotel rooms in Queenstown would cost around New Year. The cheapest one I found was whopping $700 a night! There was no way I would be willing to spend that much, even if I could afford it.
So I decided to fly to Christchurch instead. Christchurch is not a big city, but the amount of passenger air traffic was surprisingly busy. There were plenty of international carriers operating in and out of Christchurch. Hotel rates were quite reasonable, and I decided to stay at the Doubletree Chateau on the Park, which was wonderful.
To quickly summarize, there wasn’t much to do in Christchurch. Don’t get me wrong. It was a beautiful city, and people seem friendly and welcoming. The weather was beautiful, though it wasn’t quite warm yet. There were a few highlights of the city that I would like to cover in this post. But, the intention is to give you a visual idea of the city.
Christchurch Botanic Gardens
The botanic gardens in Christchurch are steps away from the hotel. A morning walk to the gardens was lovely. There weren’t many people on the street, and I just loved how flexible my schedule was — that’s why I love traveling alone.
With over an area of 21 hectares, you can easily get lost in this massive botanic gardens. Some attractions and gardens include The Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre, The Herb Garden, The Central Rose Garden, The Heritage Rose Garden, The conservatory complex, The Fernery, and many others.
One of my favorites was The Rose Garden.
But the one I like the most was The Dahlia Border.
Followed by Herbaceous Border.
And of course, The Fernery — silver fern is the unofficial icon of New Zealand.
There are several conservatories within the botanic garden such as Cunningham House, Townend House, Garrick House, Gilpin House, to name a few.
And a few more collections throughout the gardens.
The complex is so massive that you’d need several hours to explore the collections. Before leaving, I stopped by the visitor center, which is essentially a function room. The visitor center also has a small cafe, and a gift shop that sells a variety of botanic garden inspired souvenirs.
Canterbury Museum is located right outside the Botanic Gardens. The museum displays Maori and Antarctic discovery collections. Personally, I’m not a big fan of museums, but I thought I might as well go in and check it out since I was already there. The museum is free, but donations are appreciated.
While the collections were fascinating, I can’t help but think that the display was kind of random. Or perhaps, I’m just not cultured enough. 😉
Around The City
Across the street from Canterbury Museum is a complex of 23 heritage buildings called The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora. The buildings were under construction when I was there back in December. Essentially, the centre hosts a variety of events and activities such as concerts, exhibitions, festivals, workshops.
I didn’t go inside, though I checked out the courtyard. There are shops, restaurants, and art spaces around the complex.
If you are hungry and looking for something to eat, there are many places to dine around the city center, as well as live music, street performance, and entertainment.
There is also a nice walking trail along the Avon River, which is perfect for a warm evening stroll.
As the name suggests, there are quite a few churches in Christchurch. I did pass by ChristChurch Cathedral. Unfortunately, it suffered substantial damage due to multiple earthquakes in 2011.
Instead, I visited Cardboard Cathedral, built in 2013, replacing the ChristChurch Cathedral.
I didn’t know what to expect before arriving in Christchurch. The city was clean, green, and not too crowded. People were friendly and pretty laid back. While there wasn’t enough to do, staying for 2-3 days at most would give you plenty of time to explore the city. My favorite was the Botanic Gardens. It was massive, and I could spend a whole day there. There are plenty of museums around the city, though I get bored.
That said, the countryside was a different game. I love nature, and that’s what New Zealand is known for. I would highly recommend you rent a car. The roads were great. Driving would give you a lot of flexibility in terms of what to do and see.
In the next installment, I’m going to share with you my adventure in South Island. I’m looking forward to that, so stay tuned!