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Bird’s eye view of Christchurch
Seeing the delight on the children’s faces is magic as you board the Christchurch Gondola and slowly ascend nearly a kilometre to the Crater Rim at the top of the Port Hills. The views on a clear day are spectacular with 360 degree vistas of the Southern Alps, Pacific Ocean, Kaikoura and the sheltered harbour setting of Lyttelton. Once at the top board an electric cart and travel through the time tunnel. The kids will love learning about the early pioneering days of Christchurch. Complete your trip with a hot chocolate at the Red Rock Café.
Fun on the water
The Avon River is not only iconic, it also provides hours of fun for the whole family. The Avon River flows through the Botanic Gardens providing the perfect location to feed the ducks. Another great way to experience the Avon River is to head to the Antigua Boat Sheds and hire a canoe or paddle boat – try not to get wet! For a more leisurely experience board a punt (flat bottomed boat), as your Edwardian dressed boatperson provides a commentary on the ever-evolving city of Christchurch.
Pack a picnic and spend the day at Orana Wildlife Park. Set in 80 hectares, Orana Wildlife Park is New Zealand’s only open ranged zoo. Highlights for the children include hand-feeding the giraffes, getting within close proximity to rhino and zebra and patting a variety of domestic animals in the animal farm. The playground is also a huge hit with a flying fox and climbing equipment to keep the kids entertained for hours.
Check out the natives
Willowbank Wildlife Reserve prides itself on conservation and rehabilitation of rare and endangered New Zealand species and is the perfect location to view the iconic Kiwi. Children love being able to meander along the bush-lined boardwalks to get up close and personal with the animals. There are many opportunities to hand-feed a variety of animals including the eels, which are always popular with the young ones.
View some of New Zealand’s largest and oldest specimens of tree at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. The gardens are a magical wonderland for both young and old. The huge trees create perfect canopies and hiding places to play hide and seek and the myriad of trails and paths are perfect for balance bikes. The centre of the gardens is home to a large paddling pool and playgrounds suitable for both toddlers and school age children. The hardest part about a visit to the Botanic Gardens is getting the kids to leave!
Explore ancient treasures
Who hasn’t loved exploring the dimly lit rooms and ancient treasures at a Museum! The Canterbury Museum is no exception. Highlights for the kids include crawling through the Moa cave, sitting on the large model horse in Christchurch Street, feeling the Antarctic wind on a ski-doo or exploring the cabinets of creepy crawlies at Discovery – Canterbury Museum’s natural history centre for children.
The beaches of New Brighton and Sumner provide hours of free entertainment for families and they’re patrolled by surf lifeguards during the summer months. At low tide pools are often left behind by the outgoing tide, providing the perfect environment for toddlers wanting a paddle. Remember to pack the buckets and spades!
An icy experience
Enjoy the re-creation of the ‘Great White South’ at The International Antarctic Centre. Gain an appreciation of the harsh climate and environment by experiencing a snow and ice storm. Buckle up for some white-knuckled fun on the Hagglund all-terrain vehicle. Set sail on a ‘life-like’ icy voyage at the ‘4D Extreme’ theatre or simply spend time soaking up the wealth of information on all things Antarctic.
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