© NZPocketGuide.com
© NZPocketGuide.com

Boxing Day in the Botanic Gardens & Canterbury Museum

© NZPocketGuide.com

216 Days on the Road

For some reason, New Zealand towns and cities like to give themselves a little nickname. If it’s not the “Sausage Capital of New Zealand” it’s “The Garden City”, like Christchurch. But there must be a reason why the settlements so boldly give themselves such titles, so our activity of the day is to check out the Botanic Gardens of Christchurch! Not just for their reputation, but it also seems like a pleasant Boxing Day activity, right?

The busiest time of the year

In no time, we have crossed the city from the Jucy Snooze hotel and to the parking area of the Botanic Gardens. We couldn’t have come at a busier time! Aren’t you all meant to be at boxing day sales right now?! We negotiate some questionable parking and cross a small river lined with ferns and other native plants into the Botanic Gardens.

Stairway to heaven

With no particular route in mind, we start slowly making our way to the Canterbury Museum, which lies on the other end of these gardens. We say “slowly” because the Botanic Gardens may be luring us to taking a few detours. The first of which is to a duck-filled pond surrounding a sculpture called “Stairway to Heaven”. The set of stairs ascending and narrowing to a point reflects beautifully in the dark pond. Plus, it makes a pretty good perch for seagulls to watch the madness ensue when a group of children throw bread into the pond.

Walking in the jungle

Between large green spaces dotted with Northern Hemisphere trees, we spot the glass walls and roof of a huge greenhouse and decide to head towards it. The large hot box with multiple rooms and levels has quite a vintage feel. Exotic plants grow on every surface, even weaving their way up the walls onto the roof. Walking through it, passing the likes of banana trees behind waterfalls, feels like we’re walking in the jungle.

Can you smell the roses?

We eventually make our way out of the wilderness and out the other end of the greenhouse, emerging into the most spectacular rose garden. It’s in full bloom right now. Every colour under the sun comes in some sort of rose form that the bees are totally digging right now. The perfectly symmetrical display made up of rose-covered archways and small garden patches all lead to a central point indicated by a sun dial, (which is a couple of hours out due to the day-light savings time… Just saying).

The wild Christchurch Gardens

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Wonderful water features

Ok, we’ve spent enough time in the fresh aroma of roses and walking through exotic hot boxes, let’s make a B-line for the Canterbury Museum! But even during our said “B-line”, we are faced with some pretty awesome water features. One that you can power yourself and watch the clockwork occurring of a water spraying on faces which rotate to power the wings of a swan amongst other things. Just when we think we’ve made it to the museum, a grand colourful water fountain is yet another distraction. Damn, we can’t handle these epic gardens.

Maori history at the Canterbury Museum

It was a bit of a mission to get here, but we finally make it to the free-entry Canterbury Museum. Easily followed in a circle on two levels, we start in the early Maori exhibition. It’s fascinating to see mock-up scenes of the very first settlers in New Zealand, as well as tools, jewellery and weapons dug up from archaeological sites in the area.

Of course, there is the obligatory European settler exhibition mostly filled with items you would find in your grandmother’s attic/loft. The set-up is pretty fun with such artifacts displayed in old-fashioned streets and shop windows.

A first class flight to Antarctica

An airplane-shaped light on the floor leads us to the temporary exhibition celebrating 75 years of Air New Zealand. We sit in the first-class seating of yesteryears, which, dayyyyym, they had it pretty good with their super wide seats laid out like train seating at a table, and a full roast chicken on the trolley waiting for them.

After looking at the air hostess uniforms throughout the years and pieces of old airplane, we walk upstairs to check out the Antarctic exhibition – something pretty special for Christchurch because this is the city where Antarctic exhibitions tend to fly from.

The history of Antarctic exploration is told with huge displays of vehicles, old and not-so-old, fitted with Caterpillar tracks to make their way through the snow. The equipment and clothing, the wildlife, a model of an Antarctic research station are used to show us what life is like at the bottom of the earth.

So much more to see in Christchurch Botanic Gardens

From the depths of the Canterbury Museum, we emerge back into daylight for a final stroll through the Botanic Gardens back to the campervan. Just by taking a bit of a different route back, there is more to discover in these gardens. You’d have to visit at least five or six times to fully explore the Botanic Gardens, but we realise that we have rambled for far too long to tell you about what we see in the rest of the gardens.

Join us tomorrow where we are venturing into Middle-earth on a trip to Edoras! Join us then!

Learning about the very early history of New Zealand in the Canterbury Museum

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