1 - The Museums
Christchurch has some interesting Museums and the best part is that most of them are free entry! The Christchurch Museum has collections on the people of the area, the land and animals of New Zealand, Aotearoa before the European arrival, as well as design that is uniquely New Zealand (Kiwi-ana). As Christchurch is the gateway to Antarctica, there is also an exhibit about that continent, as well as the special exhibitions that are regularly planned. The Art Gallery is nearby and is also free, offering an opportunity to enjoy some local and international masterpieces. The Air Force Museum is out of the town centre at Wigram, near the Air Force Base. As well as having a flight simulator, this Museum offers hands-on experiences as you get to try out a number of planes and jets. There is a tour through their exhibits on the history of the Air Force and of Wigram. There is one more museum in Christchurch and it is a beauty. The Antarctic Centre is close to the airport and has a number of ice and snow interactive experiences. Try the cold of an Antarctic storm, or see the Penguins. Ride on a Hagglund, and learn about Scott as well as a 4D adventure, and Huskies visiting.
2 - The Beaches
Christchurch has a number of beaches within a close area. Follow the Avon River to the sea and find Sumner Beach, a strip of beautiful white sand. Along the beach, you will find Cave Rock, a huge lump of lava abandoned at one end of the beach. It resembles the body of a whale, but offers great climbing and exploring possibilities. Sumner Beach is a relatively safe beach for family play, while the surf gets bigger further along the coast at Scarborough Beach. Reminiscent of English beaches and their piers, New Brighton Beach has a 300m in length. In the summer, New Brighton is an active area with free public events held regularly, including the New Zealand Sand Castle competition.
3 - The Playgrounds
Margaret Mahy was a very well-known author of children's books, and the Playground that bears her name will entertain children as well as she herself did. A childhood wonderland is supposedly the largest playground in the southern hemisphere and offers a wide variety of fun activities. Water cannon, sandpits, climbing frames and a 4m wide slide, as well as a double flying fox, are all there. There is a BBQ and picnic area as well.
Imagination Station is a Lego-inspired play area, with workshops and play spaces, and classes in animation, robotics an digital design. Lego, Lego Technic, and Duplo blocks are here to entertain in two locations, Cathedral Junction and New Brighton.
4 - The Surrounding Countryside
Close to Christchurch are a number of interesting destinations. Take the 1.9 km long Lyttleton Tunnel under the Port Hills to Lyttleton Village, Port and Harbour. The deep harbour is the remains of an ancient volcano and is ideal as a port. Today the old stone dock ruins can still be seen where the first European emigrants landed. The township is a charming place to visit. Quail Island lies in the middle of the harbour and is an ideal spot for a day out. Once a leper colony and quarantine station, eight shipwrecks still lie on the far side of the island. Safe swimming spots combined with delightful picnic areas offer a welcome secluded hideaway from everyday life.
A drive through the beautiful hills of the Banks Peninsula to the little French styled town of Akaroa. Here another settled harbour offers more seaside adventures including cruises to see Dolphins. Akaroa is also known for its fine dining.
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