You froze to death (metaphorically speaking, of course) in the world's first indoor Antarctic storm at the Antarctic centre, had a close encounter with the New Zealand Kiwi at the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve and even found some time to take a selfie with the most photographed building in town, the Christchurch Cathedral. But did you know Christchurch is full of hidden gems that won't break your budget and have you feeling like a Christchurch local in no time.
I wanted to see New Zealand's flora and fauna, but didn't want to spend heaps
It might be in the centre of town, but there's nothing a Christchurch local enjoys more than a wander through the English-inspired Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Open every day of the year from 7 in the morning, you can choose your own path or go with a tour. Check the website for what flowers are in bloom when you visit. Take a punt tour down the Avon River or see all the nature from the comfort of the garden's cute café, while the kids play in the playground – keep your eyes peeled and you may well see a duck or two!
Pay for another museum entry fee for the family or…
Get outside and be active at Adrenalin Forest! This adventure park will test your physical limits with 7 challenging aerial obstacle courses that range from 1 metre to 20 metres above the ground. Nestled in the tranquil surroundings of Bottle Lake Forest, climb across nets, crawl through barrels and – the most thrilling of all – glide down Flying Foxes. Visit the website for opening times, prices, location and safety information.
Shopping with a difference
You might think you know what shopping involves. Wandering endlessly from shop to shop, trying to find that perfect outfit for work or a party. But Christchurch does shopping with a twist at the Re:Start mall. Built in the aftermath of the Christchurch Earthquake in 2011, this boutique mall is built almost entirely out of steel boxes and is home to big name fashion labels, quirky Kiwi designers and even the former city bookshop, Scorpio Books. Market stalls, street performers and buskers attract tourists and locals alike, showing how Christchurch revitalized itself in the aftermath of the tragic earthquake.
While you explore this unique mall, be sure to stop by Quake City – Christchurch's visitor centre that explains the science behind earthquakes, the impact of the 2011 disaster and showcases remnants, stories and photographs of those who were there.
You've saved on your hotel and seen enough museums for a lifetime…
So why not treat yourself and take a ride in the nature New Zealand is renowned for! Horse Treks run just outside Christchurch and are suitable for all ages and riding abilities. Take it easy along the side of the Brooklands lagoon astride a pure-bred Icelandic horse. If you're a bit more experienced, why not choose the 2 and a half hour trek which includes the Brooklands lagoon and a canter along the beach and through the pine forest.
If you have a few days to spare, why not get out of the city centre and drive 2 and a half hours north of Christchurch to the small town of Kaikoura. You might have to get up early for the drive, but it will be well worth it for a spectacular whale and dolphin watching cruise. Best of all, you can even go snorkelling with some of the wildlife including fur seals, which was named by the Lonely Planet as one of the top 10 Marine Encounters in the world.
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