Christchurch Art Gallery

Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū is a public art gallery in Christchurch.

The Art Gallery opened in 2003 replacing the Robert McDougall Art Gallery as the city’s public art gallery. The building was used as the Civil Defence headquarters following the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes. Although the building was designed to deal with seismic events it did occur some damage during an earthquake. The gallery reopened on 19 December 2015.

There are tours at 11am and 2pm daily with a volunteer guide. The tour lasts approximately 45 to 60 minutes and is a good overview of the collection.

The exhibitions are arranged across two floors connected by a marble staircase – although check out the art piece located in the lift.

The Christchurch Art Gallery, which is located on the corner of Worcester Boulevard and Montreal Street, is open 7 days from 10am to 5pm with a late night on Wednesday.

‘Mission Statement: First we take Island Bay then take Berlin’, (Peter Robinson, 1997)
‘Not of this Time (Dreamland)’, (John Pule, 2008)
‘The Haymaker Series I-V’, (Shane Cotton, 2012)
‘chicken / man’, (Ron Mueck, 2019)
‘The Fall of Icarus (after Bruegel)’, (Bill Hammond, 1995)
‘Dispersed Humanoids Part 1’, (Andy Leleisi’uao)
‘Untitled [T & G Mural]’, (Russell Clark, 1962)

Orana Wildlife Park, Christchurch

Orana Wildlife Park is New Zealand’s only open-range zoo sitting on 80 hectares of land, located just outside of Christchurch.

Orana Park opened in 1976 as a drive-through open-range zoo. What made it popular in the early years was its drive-through lion reserve. The lions were known for climbing on top of vehicles.

In 1995 Orana changed its business model. Visitors could no longer drive through the park. They would walk around the park or ride on the complimentary shuttle. This also meant the drive-through lion reserve closed. Today for an additional cost visitors can do the Lion Encounter. They will hop onboard a vehicle with the zoo keepers that drives through the lion enclosure. The keepers will feed the lions from within the safety of the vehicle. As you can see from the photos below the lions will often climb on top of the vehicle.

There are other activities, which are included in the standard zoo entrance price that offer visitors the chance to feed or see animals up close. There is the opportunity to hand feed a giraffe twice day and in the afternoon at the rhino encounter visitors will be only a few feet from a white rhinoceros (safely separated by two fences of course).

The day I visited there were also keeper talks for the Meerkats, Kea, farmyard animals, Tasmanian Devils, Trout and Gorilla.

There is also the Safari Shuttle, which provides guided commentary as it circuits the park. This takes approximately 25 minutes.

Orana Wildlife Park is located at 493 McLeans Island Road, Christchurch.

Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch

The Isaac Theatre Royal is a heritage theatre in Christchurch.

The theatre, which was designed by Australian brothers Sidney and Alfred Luttrell, opened in 1908. It is the only operational Edwardian style theatre remaining in New Zealand.

The first theatre on Gloucester Street, the Canterbury Music Hall, a wooden building was built in 1863, on a site across the road from the current theatre. The theatre later became the Royal Princess Theatre and then the Theatre Royal. This building was replaced by another wooden building in 1876.

The new Theatre Royal opened on its current site in February 1908. Its design included a traditional horseshoe-shaped dress circle and gallery, elaborately decorated walls and a painted dome. The theatre has had several renovations over the years. In 1928 the theatre interior had a major rebuild – only the dome, which features a painting of scenes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, remained untouched.

By the 1970s owner J.C. Williamson Theatres were scaling down investments in New Zealand. As a buyer was unable to be found it appeared the theatre would be demolished and the land sold. A group ‘Friends of the Christchurch Theatre Royal’ was formed to try and save the theatre. The Theatre Royal Foundation was later formed that raised the funds to buy the theatre from Williamson.

For many years restoration work was carried out with very little budget. Between 2004 and 2005, a $6.2 million redevelopment was undertaken. This included demolishing the original brick fly tower and dressing room facilities and building a larger modern concrete fly tower and dressing room facilities. The stage and fly tower was made wider and deeper.

Unfortunately the auditorium and foyer were damaged during the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake and following aftershocks. The theatre was closed for nearly four years while a $40 million restoration was completed. The theatre reopened on the 17 November 2014.

The main auditorium seats up to 1292 across three levels – Stalls, Dress Circle and Grand Circle. There is also the Gloucester Room, which is a studio space suitable for rehearsals, workshops and performances.

The theatre is named after art patron Lady Diana Isaac, who generously supported the 2004/05 refurbishment. Lady Isaac passed away 23 November 2012, aged 91.

The Isaac Theatre Royal is at 145 Gloucester Street. It is just around the corner from the New Regent Street Precinct.

Van Gogh Alive

Van Gogh Alive is a large-scale immersive multi-sensory experience featuring the works of Vincent Van Gogh.

Van Gogh Alive opened today Saturday April 10th at Spark Arena in Auckland. It is on until May 6th. I had the opportunity to see it last month at the National Air Force Museum in Christchurch.

The exhibition features over 3,000 images that are projected over the walls and floors. The giant projections are set to a score of classical music. The experience uses 40 high-definition projectors and cinema-quality surround sound.

On arriving visitors will enter the Interpretive Area, which offers visitors the chance to familiarise themselves with the life and works of Vincent Van Gogh before entering the sensory experience.

There are many Instagram worthy moments to be had, including a three-dimensional life-size version of ‘Van Gogh’s Bedroom’ and a sunflower-filled mirrored hall.

Vincent Willem Van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) was a Dutch post-impressionist painter who posthumously became one of the most influential figures in Western art history.

Over a decade Van Gogh created about 2,100 pieces of art, including about 860 oil paintings. Most of these were made in the last two years of his life. These included landscapes, still lifes, portraits, and self-portraits. His works were often characterised by bold colours and dramatic expressive brushwork.

Greymouth Floodwall Walk

A floodwall built along Grey River not only protects the township of Greymouth but also offers a pleasant walk with a memorial, sculptures and other historic points of interest.

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The floodwall that lines the southern side of the Grey River can be accessed at several points along Mawhera Quay. Locals jokingly call it ‘the Great Wall of Greymouth’.

It is the starting point of the West Coast Wilderness Trail, a 139 km (86 mi) 4 day cycle trail that runs from Greymouth to Ross via Kumara, Cowboy Paradise and Hokitika.

The floodwall includes a memorial to the miners who have lost their lives in coal mining accidents on the West Coast. This memorial was unveiled on January 19, 2013, the 46th anniversary of the Strongman Mine disaster that killed 19 men.

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Memorial to those you lost their lives in coal mining accidents on the West Coast

Memorial to those you lost their lives in coal mining accidents on the West Coast

A striking feature of Mawhera Quay is the clock tower that was erected by the Greymouth Rotary and Lions clubs in 1992. The clock is from the former Post Office and is dated from 1903.

Opposite the clock tower on the corner of Mawhera Quay and Tainui Street is the historic Bank of New Zealand building, built in 1924, which now houses the Left Bank Art Gallery.

Clock tower and Bank of New Zealand building

Clock tower and Bank of New Zealand building

Toward the Port of Greymouth end of the floodwall is the Coal River Heritage Park. The park is a partnership between the Greymouth Heritage Society, Grey District Council and Port of Greymouth.

The park includes gardens; a drill point sculpture to celebrate coal mining and industry; three restored Q wagons; and the heritage passenger wharf, which has been re-decked.

Heritage passenger wharf and restored Q wagons

Heritage passenger wharf and restored Q wagons

Restored Q wagon

Restored Q wagon

Opposite the Heritage Park on Gresson Street is the Harbour Board Offices and the Grey County Chambers building. The Greymouth Harbour Board Offices building was built in 1885 and opened in November 1886. It was restored in 2002.

Grey County Chambers building, built in 1924, is now home to the History House Museum. The museum located at 27 Greeson Street is open Monday to Wednesday 10 am – 4 pm, Thursday 1 pm – 4 pm and Friday 10 am – 4pm. Adults are $6, children $2.

Greymouth Harbour Board Offices building

Greymouth Harbour Board Offices building

Grey County Chambers (History House Museum)

Grey County Chambers (History House Museum)

The floodwall walk ends at the Port of Greymouth. It is only a 10 minute walk along Mawhera Quay part of the floodwall. Those wishing to explore further can follow the West Coast Wilderness cycle trail.

The trail veers away from the river and follows the Blaketown Lagoon, a fishing basin. Blaketown is named after Isaac Blake, an early shopkeeper in the district. After Blaketown Fishermans Wharf the trail follows the coast offering views of the west coast beach and Tasman Sea.

Blaketown Fishermans Wharf

Blaketown Fishermans Wharf

West Coast

West Coast

Sun setting on the walk back

Sun setting on the walk back

Port of Greymouth on the walk back

Port of Greymouth on the walk back

TranzAlpine, Christchurch to Greymouth

The TranzAlpine is a scenic tourist train that travels from Christchurch to Greymouth.

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The journey is 223 kilometres (139 miles) one way and travels across the Canterbury plains, alongside the Waimakariri River and through the Southern Alps. It is regarded as one of the top scenic train rides in the world.

There are 3 passenger cars A, B, D. The C car is a café car serving meals, snacks and beverages. KiwiRail Scenic Journeys currently serves prepackaged meals from catering company Wishbone. Staff can heat up meals. The meals are reasonably priced but many passengers seem to bring their own snacks as it is only a four-and-half-hour trip one way.

An open viewing car was located at the front of the train, offering the best opportunity for photos and a breath of fresh air.

The train departs Christchurch at 8:15 am and travels across the Canterbury plains with stops at Rolleston, Darfield, Springfield and Cass.

TranzAlpine, Christchurch Railway Station

TranzAlpine, Christchurch Railway Station

TranzAlpine crosses Canterbury plain

TranzAlpine crosses Canterbury plain

Springfield

Springfield

The train stops at Arthur’s Pass for approximately 20 minutes, which is a good opportunity to get off have some fresh air, take some photos, throw a snowball or two.

After Arthur’s Pass train stops at Otira, Jacksons, Moana (Lake Brunner), Kokiri before a scheduled arrival in Greymouth at 12:45 pm.

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Arthur's Pass

Arthur’s Pass

Greymouth Railway Station

Greymouth Railway Station

The train returns from Greymouth at 1:45 pm arriving in Christchurch at 6:05 pm. It is possible to do the TranzAlpine as a day trip or have an overnight stay in Greymouth.

 

The Giant’s House Akaroa

The Giant’s House is a quirky sculpture, mosaic garden and gallery in Akaroa.

The Giant's House

The Giant’s House

The sculpture, mosaic and terraced garden is created by artist Josie Martin.

The Giant’s House is located at 68 Rue Balguerie, which is off Rue Lavaud (Akaroa’s main road).

Winter hours (1 May – 24 December) are 2 pm – 4 pm and summer hours (26 December – 30 April) are 12 pm – 5 pm. On cruise ship visiting days (October – December) it is open 12.30 pm – 4 pm. Adults are $20, children (2 – 15) are $10, students and NZ super gold card holders are $17. There are family pass tickets available.

The house also offers bed and breakfast accommodation.

The house was built in 1880 by the BNZ Bank Manager. It took 5 years to build the house using Kauri and Totara milled from the Banks Peninsula. The house was named ‘The Giant’s House’ after a little girl looked up at the house and said it was so big it must belong to a Giant.

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Akaroa Museum

Akaroa Museum is a local history museum.

Akaroa Museum

Akaroa Museum

The Museum is located at 71 Rue Lauvaud. The museum is open 7 days a week, except Christmas Day and ANZAC Day morning. Summer hours are 10:30 am – 4:30 pm and winter hours are 10:30 am – 4:00 pm.

When I visited the galleries were closed due to construction work. The gift shop was open and it was possible to view the museum’s three heritage buildings.

The Akaroa Museum was established in 1964 around the Langlois-Eteveneaux Cottage, a two room cottage built in the early 1840s for Aimable Langlois. He returned to France in 1842. In 1858 the cottage passed to Jean-Pierre Eteveneaux and later his son Jean-Baptise, who did remodeling. In the mid 1960s the additions to the cottage were removed to return it to its original two room cottage.

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Langlois-Eteveneaux Cottage

The Museum is also responsible for the Old Akaroa Court House and the Custom House.

A resident magistrate’s court was formed in Akaroa in 1840. It was not until 1880 though that the Court House building was built and was in use until 1979.

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Old Akaroa Court House

Old Akaroa Court House

Custom House, located at the end of Rue Balguerie, near Daly’s Wharf, is a short walk from the Museum. It was built in 1858 after Akaroa become of customs port of entry in 1842. The building later became a survey office and later part of the Borough Council chambers.

Custom House

Custom House

Akaroa Lighthouse

The Akaroa Lighthouse is a historic Akaroa landmark.

Akaroa Lighthouse

Akaroa Lighthouse

The six-sided wooden lighthouse was originally located on the Akaroa heads at the entrance to Akaroa Harbour. The lighthouse was built in 1878-9. The tower was 28 feet (8.5 metres) high. The light itself was 270 feet above sea level. The light, which first shone in January 1880 was visible 37 kilometres (23 miles) out to sea.

The lighthouse was replaced by an automatic light in 1977. A volunteer community group formed the Akaroa Lighthouse Preservation Society and brought the lighthouse for $1. It was cut into three pieces and reassembled at Cemetery Point (now known as Lighthouse Point) on the 4th October 1980.

It is open to visitors on Sundays weather pending from 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm or by prior arrangement.

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Views from Akaroa Lighthouse

Views from Akaroa Lighthouse

The Hilltop Tavern

The Hilltop Tavern, which is 470 metres above sea level, is famous for its view and is worth a stop if making a trip to Akaroa from Christchurch.

The Hilltop Tavern

The Hilltop Tavern

The Tavern, which is located at 5207 Christchurch Akaroa Road (SH 75) is open 5 day a week; Wednesday 10 am – 4pm, Thursday to Saturday 10 am – close, Sunday 10 am – 4 pm.

Even if the Tavern is closed it is still worth pulling into the car park to check out the view.

The original Hilltop building burnt down in 1930. A new building was built in 1931, which still stands today.

Hilltop Tavern serves a range of meals including wood-fried pizzas, fish & chips, nachos, burgers, salmon, prawns and ribs. They also have a breakfast menu and do a range of cafe cabinet style food.

Table at The Hilltop Tavern

Table at The Hilltop Tavern

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Views from The Hilltop Tavern

Views from The Hilltop Tavern