Timaru’s Botanic Gardens offer 19 hectares of lush plants, flowers and woods to explore.
The gardens include a formal rose garden, an aviary, a fern house, a conservatory, band rotunda, and native and threatened plant collections.
The people of Timaru lobbied the Canterbury Provincial Council in 1864 to make a reserve out of unsold land at the south end of Timaru. In 1868 the planting of trees and shrubs began. Majority of the early planting was done by convicts from the Timaru Gaol.
In 2014 the Gardens were recognised as a Garden of National Significance by the New Zealand Gardens Trust.
The gates to the vehicle entrance on Queens Street close at dusk and open 8am. Pedestrian access is open 24 hours.
The Grosvenor has been called ‘The Grand Old Lady of the South’ – today sadly she is looking a bit tired and worn. The hotel is currently undergoing earthquake strengthening, so hopefully there are future renovation plans to restore her to her former glory.
The foundation stone for the Grosvenor was laid in 1875. The hotel burnt down shortly after it was complete. The building that stands today was built in 1915 and was designed by architect James Turnbull.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has visited the hotel twice. I stayed in Suite 101, known as the Queen’s Room. During the 1954 Royal Tour a civic luncheon was held at The Grosvenor and Her Majesty rested in the suite in the afternoon.
Another piece of trivia, The Canterbury Rugby Football Union (CRFU) was established in the basement of the original building in 1879.
The hotel also has single, standard (Queen or Twin) and superior rooms with renovated bathrooms. There are 44 rooms in this dog-friendly hotel.
The hotel has quirky artworks painted around its interiors by local and international artists. I have read some reviews with the opinion that these artworks do not necessarily match the heritage hotel – really it is will come down to personal taste.
There is also the TGB restaurant bar, gaming lounge and three conference rooms. I did not use this facilities though.
This establishment is a no-frills hotel filled with history and character. It is clean and the service is efficient and pleasant.
The Grosvenor is located at 26 Cains Terrace, Timaru.
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.
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.
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 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.
Waitangi Day is a national day (public holiday) in New Zealand.
The day marks the anniversary of initial signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on February 6th 1840. The Treaty is New Zealand’s founding document, which was signed between representatives for the British Crown and a number of Māori Chiefs.
Waitangi Day was first officially commemorated in 1934 and became a public holiday in 1974. The day has over the years been the focus of protest concerning treaty injustices.
Rotorua’s official Waitangi Day celebrations were held at Ōhinemutu, a living Māori village located on the shores of Lake Rotorua. The village, which was the original settlement of Rotorua, is 10 minutes walk from downtown Rotorua.
The event called For The Love of People had performances showcasing many different cultures, food and health stalls, public talks, guided tours, Māori and Indian cooking lessons, visual art displays and demonstrations, such as tattooing, carving and weaving.
The Crescent Playground in the Wellington suburb of Roseneath on the north-eastern slope of Mount Victoria provides stunning views of the city and harbour.
I had arrived in Wellington early before most attractions and businesses had opened so I went for a Sunday morning stroll along Oriental Parade around Wellington harbour.
At one point I crossed the road and walked up the path for the Mount Victoria Southern Walkway. But rather than following the walkway towards Newtown I walked up to the Crescent Play Area for views of the city and harbour.
It is also possible to access the playground at 18 The Crescent (a street in Roseneath). There is some street parking and few off street parking spaces right at the top of the slide. Children can enter the playground via the slide.