For those who haven't been to Christchurch, I think it would be fair to say they may be surprised by just how quaint and English style the whole city is. We took full advantage of the tram in the city centre that takes tourists to some of the major attractions – I think we must have gone around the loop at least half a dozen times in the end! The Art Gallery confused me a little, I was convinced I hadn't seen it despite having stayed on that street before. However it opened in 2003 and I was last here May 2002, so that helped explain the mystery. There are some architectural delights including the old university buildings which now hold the Arts Centre with several arts and crafts shops, a theatre, a cinema and a ballet company. Close by is the Botanical Gardens and the museum. Since David and I are returning to Christchurch at the end of our time in NZ, we left our visit to the museum till then, but we strolled around the gardens, smelled the roses and climbed a couple of trees. We also saw ducklings on the river, which is punted in true Cambridge style. Instead of being able to have a go yourself though, “Edwardian” gentlemen take you for a tour complete with full outfits and plummy accents. In the Cathedral in the centre of the Square, we were treated to singing from a female choir while looking around – next time I think I would like to walk up the spire, as I remember the views being great but this time we ran out of time.
Just outside of the main city was the Antarctic Experience. Apparently Christchurch is where many of the planes bound for the frozen continent leave from, and various countries including the USA and, unsurprisingly, New Zealand base their preparatory areas here. It was an interesting place with a chance to experience an Antarctic storm – we wrapped up in borrowed jackets and entered a freezer where the temperature was -18