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.

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.

 

Little River Craft Station

Little River Craft Station is a former railway station that has been converted into a local craft market and tourist information centre with historic displays.

Little River Craft Station

Little River Craft Station

Little River Station, which is located on Christchurch Akaroa Road (SH 75), was built in 1886 and was the terminus station on the Little River Branch line until 1962.

The station buildings are managed by the Little River Railway Station Trust, a volunteer community group that has leased the historic railway building from the Christchurch City Council and have restored and maintain it.

The Station is open 7 day a week, except Christmas Day and ANZAC morning. Summer hours are 9 am – 5pm and winter hours are 9:30 am – 4:30 pm.

The Craft Station sells a variety products including art, jewellery, baby and women’s clothing, knitwear, patchwork, leather work, wood work, pottery, soft toys, local souvenirs, soap, preserves, vegetable seedlings and plants, cut flowers and fresh produce.

They also have displays on local history and railway memorabilia. These displays are regularly updated by the Trust.

Fresh produce and plants for sale

Fresh produce and plants for sale

Railway memorabilia

Railway memorabilia

They also provide tourist information on Little River and the Banks Peninsula region to Akaroa.

A small section of tracks have been installed behind the station so that a number of preserved heritage freight wagons can be displayed.

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Preserved heritage freight wagons

Preserved heritage freight wagons

Little River Railway Station Platform

Little River Railway Station Platform

 

International Antarctic Centre

The International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch is the base for New Zealand, the United States and Italian Antarctic programmes. It is also home to a visitor’s centre.

International Antarctic Centre

International Antarctic Centre

The visitor centre is located on Orchard Road (between Memorial Ave and Wairakei Rd) across the road from Christchurch International Airport. It is open every day from 9 am to 5.30 pm.

There is a free Penguin Express Shuttle van that departs Canterbury Museum (Rolleston Ave) on the hour from 9 am (October to March) and 10 am (April – September). The last shuttle departs the museum at 4 pm. The shuttle returns to the city on the half hour with the last shuttle departing at 4.30 pm.

Penguin Express

Penguin Express

There are numerous displays on the Antarctic including information on the landscape, wild life, conservation efforts, and what life is like for scientists and visitors at Scott Base.

The International Antarctic Centre is also highly interactive. There is an indoor polar room that is kept a minus 5 degrees Celsius. Visitors can take the ‘Polar Plunge’ ice water challenge, stand by the Wind Chill Machine, slide down an icy slope or crawl inside a snow cave. Every hour an Antarctic Storm blows through with a temperature of minus 18 degrees. Warm jackets and overshoes are provided.

My favourite is the Little Blue Penguin enclosure with its two viewing levels. All the penguins are rescue birds that would have survived in the wild. The penguins are feed daily at 10.30 am and 3.30 pm.

Little Blue Penguin Enclosure

Little Blue Penguin Enclosure

There is also the 4D Theatre – a 3D film with added dimension of physical effects. There are currently two films playing Happy Feet 4D and Ice Voyage.

They also play the 17 minute short film Beyond the Sunset from Emmy Award winning filmmaker Mike Single. The film shows the seasonal arc from sunrise to sunset in the Antarctic. The film plays continuously on a large HD theatre screen.

The Hagglund is an all terrain amphibious Antarctic vehicle. The centre offers 10 minute rides around a dirt track that has hills, mounds and crosses water.

Hagglund

Hagglund

For visitors that are not interested in the Hagglund ride or the 4D theatre they can purchase Xpress Admission, which does not include these two attractions. For savings book tickets online. The International Antarctic Centre offers adult, child, student / senior and family passes.

Avon River

The Avon River flows through the centre of Christchurch city.

Avon River

Avon River

The river travels from a spring in the suburb of Avonhead through the western suburbs towards the Botanic Gardens, Hagley Park and the Central Business District. From the city it travels east eventually flowing into the Pacific Ocean via the Avon Heathcote Estuart near Sumner.

The river gets its name from the Avon River in Ayrshire, Scotland. It was named in 1842 by early Scottish settlers William and John Deans.

Due to contamination linked to the earthquakes it is not advisable to swim in the Avon River.

One way to experience the Avon River is on a guided punting tour. There are two departure points. In the Botanic Gardens the departure point is the Antiqua Boat Sheds and the the city departure point is by the Worchester Bridge. A return trip from either point is approximately 30 minutes.

Punting on the Avon River

Punting on the Avon River

In my opinion the best way to see the Avon River is to walk along one of the many paths that line its banks. There are walks through the Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park. Another popular walk is following the Avon River through the CBD.

Te Papa Ōtākaro / Avon River Precinct is a restoration and development project of a 3.2 km area surrounding the river following the Christchurch earthquakes.

Watermark was the first section to open in August 2013 between the Antigua Boatsheds and Montreal Street with boardwalks, walkways and street furniture. The Antigua Boatsheds were built in 1882 and are the last of the commercial boat sheds that once lined the river. A variety of row boats can be hired from here.

I started my walk at Victoria Square, originally known as Market Square or Market Place. It was developed and renamed Victoria Square in 1896 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. A statue of Queen Victoria was erected in 1903. Other key features include the Captain James Cook statue and the H.L. Bowker Fountain. A $7 million revamp of Victoria Square is in the planning stages at the moment.

The cast iron and stone Hamish Hay Bridge (also known as Victoria Bridge) was built 1863-4 to replace the wooden Papanui Bridge. The bridge originally had a width of 27 ft 6in. Further work was completed in 1875 and 1885 bringing the width to 66 ft. It is the country’s oldest cast iron and stone bridge and survived the Christchurch earthquakes undamaged.

Cook Statue, Victoria Square

Cook Statue, Victoria Square

Hamish Hay Bridge / Victoria Bridge

Hamish Hay Bridge / Victoria Bridge

Several other heritage bridges cross the Avon River including the Italianate-style arch Worchester Bridge constructed in 1885 and the Hereford Street Bridge constructed in 1938.

Over the coming years there is going to be a lot of work done revamping the Avon River Precinct. Downsteam, next to the Bridge of Remembrance, is going to be The Terraces, which is going to be a key attraction in the precinct. Another attraction being built is the Margaret Mahy Family Playground. The playground is expected to open around Christmas 2015.

The Bridge of Remembrance was built to commemorate those that served in World War I and was unveiled in November 1924. The archway was built over the Cashel Street bridge. It is currently being repaired following earthquake damage.

Bridge of Remembrance

Bridge of Remembrance

Park of Remembrance

Park of Remembrance

Quake City

Quake City is a exhibition on the Christchurch earthquakes.

Quake City

Quake City

The purpose built exhibition opened in February 2013 after the Canterbury Museum hosted a temporary exhibition in 2012.

The museum will be located on Cashel Street, opposite the Re:START Container Mall until May 2017. It is open 7 days a week from 10 am to 5 pm. Adults are $20, concession $16, accompanied children under 15 are free.

The February 2011 earthquake caused wide spread damage to Christchurch city. There are some objects on display including a sign from the Pyne Gould Corporation building; from the Cathedral Blessed Sacrament there are pieces from the dome, the Belfry door from the North Bell tower, and one of the four bells; from the Provincial Chambers there is the Speaker’s Chair, decorative ceiling pieces, and a clock and carved head from the Stone Chamber; and from the Christ Church Cathedral there is the fallen spire.

Elements from the Cathedral of Blessed Sacrament

Elements from the Cathedral of Blessed Sacrament

Christchurch Cathedral Spire

Christ Church Cathedral Spire

There are also displays from those who helped in the aftermath of the earthquake including Mayor Bob Parker’s orange jacket, items from Student Volunteer Army and Search and Rescue workers.

There are interactive activities for visitors including jumping on the spot to see seismograph in action, pedaling on a bike to play a cycle-powered short film, and a Lego table for the young and young at heart.

Also there is interview footage with locals telling their stories from that day.

Be sure to check out the restroom facilities!

Canterbury Museum

Canterbury Museum is a natural and human history museum located in Christchurch.

Canterbury Museum

Canterbury Museum

Canterbury Museum is located on Rolleston Ave, next to the Botanic Gardens and Christ’s College. The museum is open every day, except Christmas Day. During the summer (October to March) the museum is open from 9 am to 5.30 pm. During the winter months (April to September) the museum closes at 5 pm. Entry to the museum is free but donations are appreciated. The Discovery Centre is $2 per person, no charge for children under three.

The museum was established in 1867 by German geologist Sir Julius von Haast and was originally housed in the Provincial Council Buildings.

Its current site is the impressive Gothic Revival stone building, which was designed by Benjamin Mountfort and opened in 1870. Over the years there have been several extensions to the building. Today the museum building is four levels. Exhibits are located on levels 1 and 3. There is a café with views of the botanic gardens located on level 4. Level 2 is the administration level and is closed to the general public.

The museum has over 2.1 million items in its collection.

Level 1 has excellent exhibits on early Canterbury settlement, Maori history and New Zealand natural history.

The Mountfort Gallery occupies the part of the original Canterbury Museum building and is named after Benjamin Mountfort. It currently houses the museum’s European Decorative Art and Costume collection.

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Mountfort Gallery

Mountfort Gallery

There is a slice kiwiana with Fred and Myrtle’s Paua Shell House. For over 40 years Fred and Myrtle would show tourists around their paua shell decorated home in the Bluff. Following the couple’s passing their grandson donated the paua shell collection to Canterbury Museum. A replica of the lounge was created using photographs taken in late 2006.

There is also a replica of early Canterbury street on level 1 with early 19th century shops.

Fred and Myrtle's Paua Shell House

Fred and Myrtle’s Paua Shell House

The third level has much of the natural history section including the bird hall, dinosaur and geology exhibits. The third floor also has international exhibits including an Asian Arts collection, Egyptian exhibit with its own mummy Tash pen Khonsu and an Antarctic exhibit.

Antarctic exhibition

Antarctic exhibit

Egyptian exhibition

Egyptian exhibit