New Zealand with Kids - Day Eleven, Christchurch

Monday, 14 February 2011

The rain seemed to be following us! On day eleven, we woke to imposing skies so jumped in the car to see if we could get a clearer view from the gondola east of Christchurch. Alas, the rain worsened on the way so we instead drove to Lyttleton, a small and sweet harbour town south of the city, accessed through a tunnel in the mountain (we love tunnels!).

Heading back into town, we drove to the west of Christchurch to the beautiful Canterbury Farmer's Market held at Riccarton House and Bush every Saturday from 9am to 12pm. Luscious! Loved it - and what a stunning setting, complete with old time threesome spinning some tunes while the kids dined on pancakes and we took in the fresh produce, great coffee, gorgeous little river and willow trees.

Next it was back into the city for a wander down New Regent Street, which is packed with pastel buildings, a tramline and coffee stops.

You can also walk south along New Regent, cross over Gloucester Street and enter the tram terminus (below) for some more shopping.

After coffee and a walk, it was back to the Canterbury Museum to see all they had missed out on yesterday.

One of the best museum experiences in New Zealand, there’s a fantastic Discovery Centre for kids ($2 per person, although the attendant didn’t charge me, just the kids) which houses a mind-boggling assortment of tactile experiences for kids from tots through grade school (and also had this big kid entranced).

It's kind of hard to explain the amazing array of stimulating wonder on offer, so I'll just show you some.

If bugs and taxidermy specimens are not your thing, don't get too freaked out - these specimens are done really well and are not at all creepy. Whatever the case, the kids will be mesmerised. There is a glass wall filled with an incredible swirl of butterflies and beetles in whirling flight, and loads of pull-out drawers packed with eye-boggling patterns of bugs and butterflies and other creepy crawlies.

There’s a striking wall of eggs from a variety of wild birds, a mass of 3D jigsaw puzzles including a child-size dinosaur, even a faux archaeological dig for the kids with coarse sand and fossils. There's just so much, it's a delight to behold.

Beyond the Discovery Centre, the museum also hosts its own 150BC mummy – a 25-year-old Egyptian female, complete with x-ray images and fascinating MRI results.

The kids also loved the Antarctica exhibition with ride on skidoo and the very first vehicle to reach the south pole, among many many more fascinating pieces.

The afternoon was back to the local indoor pool for another round of swimming; I instead got some writing done and packed for our early start tomorrow. A terrible night’s sleep – our apartment today was submerged in noise thanks to a gaggle of 20-something chicks next door who went out clubbing then came home and collectively decided to clomp, stomp, slam and clamber between the hours of 2am and 5am. God only knows what they were doing in there.

Honestly? We have had 8 straight totally disrupted nights’ sleep thanks to the noise of our apartment neighbours or noisy locations – a record our family has never known in all our many years of travel in many different countries.

Could it be our friends the Kiwis are the epitome of the dreaded noisy neighbour? Take your earplugs with you.
New Zealand with Kids - Day Three, Auckland
New Zealand with Kids - Day Four, Rotorua
New Zealand with Kids - Day Five, Rotorua
New Zealand with Kids - Day Six, Lake Taupo, Palmerston North, Wellington
New Zealand with Kids - Day Seven, Wellington
New Zealand with Kids - Day Eight, Wellington
New Zealand with Kids - Day Nine, Inter Island ferry, Picton, Blenheim, Christchurch
New Zealand with Kids - Day Ten, Christchurch
New Zealand with Kids - Day Twelve, Queenstown
New Zealand with Kids - Day Thirteen, Queenstown
New Zealand with Kids - Day Fourteen, Queenstown, Glenorchy, Arrowtown, Wanaka

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