While museums and art galleries are great they need to be in small doses with young ones: perhaps concentrate on one specialist area with each visit. The fabulous Christchurch Art Gallery always has special events during the school holidays – as does the Canterbury museum so always ask if they have a special event on when you arrive.
The Christchurch Botanic Gardens in the inner city has lots of space for running, picnics, and a kid’s playground with a paddling pool – and when travelling with children its good to have spaces on the itinerary where they can just burn up some energy – the gardens, and our many other parks, are the ideal spots.
Of course the Avon River and its iconic boatsheds is fun for all the family – a trip to Christchurch without boating on the Avon seems unthinkable – paddle boata, canoes, or punting – the child inside us all love these activities.
The Antarctic Centre is another must-do. Often-voted ‘New Zealand’s best attraction’ it’s appropriate it’s in Christchurch as this city has long been the jumping off place for Antarctic exploration and adventures.
In November 2010 4D is being introduced to visitors, and with free transport from the city centre, (in a bus with penguins on top) I’m sure your children will rate this attraction highly. Despite the snow and ice in parts of the Antarctic Centre, don’t worry, you will be supplied with warm coats and boots. I especially love the live penguins!
If you are with kids, it’s almost compulsory to finish off with a ride on the Hagglund. For fifteen mins they will love, and possibly scream, as they do doughnuts, swim through water, travel over a crevasse, and up and down hills – just as vehicles do in the Antarctic.
Of course all kids seem to love the Gondola. (NOTE: check out a ticket that combines the tram and the gondola as that will save you money, and if you don’t have a car use bus #28 to travel their – it goes avery 15 mins from the bus stop on Colombo St at the bus exchange) Views are wonderful from the top of the Port Hills – and this attraction is beside “the bridle path’ that many of our ancestors, including mine, walked over in the mid-1800s. Make sure you walk through the time tunnel and see how the twin volcanoes shaped our Banks Pensisula.
Willowbank Wildlife Reserve is great for children too – especially as I believe it’s the only place in New Zealand that you will see live kiwi – of the flightless bird variety – not behind glass. It’s also the place to experience KoTane, a local Maori show that both informs and entertains people from all over the world daily.
Have a ‘wild encounter’ at Orana Park; visit the Air Force Museum ; go ice-skating or roller-blading; have fun at Laser Strike; and learn while having fun at Science Alive which, incidentally, is in our old railway station building. Of course there are indoor and outdoor pools, watier slides, ten pin bowling, and maybe you would like to test your limits on a series of rope bridges at Adrenalin Forest.