Not a heck of a lot, to be honest!
Haha, I won’t leave you hanging like that, don’t worry. Our family holiday paradigm is to plan for one thing to happen each day and then anything else is a bonus. Out of our four days away, two would have the “big thing” of flights, so we weren’t too concerned about getting anything else done on those days. That left us with two full days in Christchurch to DO THINGS.
We knew as we were flying down that our key focus would be seeing family – that was the major purpose for our visit. Papa M really wanted to see the quake ruins and rebuild in the CBD and my major aim was to get a coffee at Coffee Culture (spoiler alert, I managed to do this twice). We also wanted to take CJ to visit at least one tourist sight. Christchurch has many and while we love both the Antarctic Centre and Canterbury Museum, we ultimately decided that the Christchurch Gondola would be the best choice this time round.
On Saturday morning we headed into the CBD bright and early, managing to find a carpark on the street. Like me two years ago, Papa M was completely disoriented by the lack of landmarks that we used to navigate by. We strolled all around the CBD, through the Re:Start shipping container mall (where the boys shared a delicious pastry) and over to where a former hotel favourite of ours no longer stands next to the Avon river.
Our metered parking being up, we went for a little drive to locate the Christchurch office of Papa M’s work before heading to visit our family. CJ had mixed feelings about little C – I think he wondered why he wasn’t crawling round and getting into everything like he was! We stopped at the newish (well, post-quake) The Tannery shopping emporium for lunch. I’d love to head back there without CJ – it was a bit hard to find meals that catered to toddlers and the kids and child-friendly shops were few and far between. A bacon and egg brioche under his belt, it was back to the holiday park for nap time. A quick go on the playground to burn off some energy and it was out to dinner.
We’d arranged the following day to meet up for lunch with the family we were visiting but CJ doesn’t do “hanging around the house” particularly well, so we headed off a little early. Heading from the North to the South East of Christchurch, we chose to swing out to the coast and visit New Brighton. New Brighton is renowned for its beautiful pier, but what many don’t know is the building attached to the pier houses the local library. CJ loved hanging out with the books and the toys and was a bit disgruntled when it was time to leave. Top travel tip? If kids like things in your own community (pools, libraries, playgrounds), don’t discount them as an extremely cheap outing while on holiday.
After meeting with our family for lunch, it was off to the gondola. Strollers are very much allowed but in hindsight I would have just carried/wore CJ rather than lugging the stroller around. CJ was a little concerned when the gondola took off but soon enjoyed the ride. We had wondered whether he would be a bit grizzly at the top (just looking at the view) but he seemed to just take it all in. The top of the gondola also has a time tunnel amusement ride – motorised buggies drive around a track that takes you through Canterbury’s history. We thought that we might as well try and and see how CJ went – he LOVED it. We didn’t take advantage of any of the walking trails at the top because we knew we were running on borrowed (nap)time but they didn’t look overly strenuous for older kids. Back down the gondolas, we sped back towards the holiday park and got CJ down for a very late nap, deciding to do dinner in the cabin that night rather than push our luck any further.
There are SO many fun things to do in Christchurch – if we had been down for longer, we definitely would have rode the tram and visited Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. We also came across Imagination Station which would be great with older kids on a wet day! It definitely has something to please the littles and the bigs and is a great year-round destination for families.