A Travellerspoint blog

Antarctic Centre and Christchurch

sunny 20 °C

Today was the day to check out the famous Antarctic Centre.. we thought this might be something the kids would really enjoy. It is right next to the airport and so we headed off to see what it was all about. When we walked in there was a little gift shop and cafe so I took the opportunity to buy Savannah a Polar Fleece jumper as she hasn't stopped complaining about the cold since we got here LOL

I personally don't think it is any warmer than the jumper we bought but she does and that is the main thing! When you first walk into the Antarctic Centre, the first thing they do is take a photo of your family which you can keep at the end as a souvenir of your visit. You then walk into a room that is a replication of Scott's journey to the South Pole.. it sounds like a diary and is very eery and atmospheric.
The next section is where you can experience an actual snow storm this was very cool, you put on jackets and over shoes and get into this room where it is bloody cold... Rhett wanted to get out a few minutes into the wind section but I found it really cool (hahaha get it!) when I got out I was invigorated.
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We also got to see the Penguins getting fed, which was great fun, all of these Penguins had been injured in some way, one had a flipper missing, another was blind etc they were great fun to watch.
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Lastly we went on a Hugland ride which is the vehicles they use in the Antarctic, the centre has what looks like a BMX track set up where you go ove hills and through water and do burn outs etc.. was lots of fun but a bit rough!
... and that was it for the Antarctic Centre.. wasn't a great deal to do but what was there was loads of fun :)
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Gary and I decided to head into the city to see if we could find the Christchurch Markets that we had read about. So we hopped in the car and parked in the city. After grabbing something to eat we went in search of the markets. We arrived just as a street performer was doing his act, he was just brilliant and very funny!
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The markets were lovely with lots of cute stalls, the kids bought some bits and pieces .. Rhett grabbed a necklace and a little pewter house and Savannah bought a pewter cat. I bought myself a beanie! We grabbed an ice-cream and decided to catch a tram back into the city square, as we were waiting we hear someone yell out Gary Pritchard! Look up and there is Maree and Mick Nasser!! So funny, you cannot go anywhere in the world without seeing somebody you know, so we hopped on the tram together and had a bit of a catch up, by this time we had heard from Wendy and Ian and so decided to surprise them and get off the tram where they were waiting, they couldn't believe it either :)
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After we got back to the square we went into Christchurch Cathedral which is this magnificent church, Savannah has a religion assignment coming up on the architecture of churches so we took lots of photos.. am sure she will get an A!
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Spotted these very impressive public toilets so we all used them and of course took a photo!
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We then went into the Aquariam which was kind of cool but nothing flash, saw Sharks being fed which sounds impressive but really isn't.. I actually enjoyed the theatre but the kids were bored LOL
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I bought myself a green stone necklace at a souvenir shop and we decided to head back to the motel.. Wendy suggested we all go for a walk up the road and see if we could grab something to eat and we ended up at a Lone Star Tavern, which was another fantastic meal and atmosphere as well as great service! Had a few drinkies and went to bed... another great day in NZ!

Posted by sonya13 01:49 Archived in New Zealand Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Lyttelton and Akaroa

Markets and Dolphins

sunny 20 °C

Steve the coach driver from the other night recommended the Lyttelton markets on Saturdays so we decided to go for a look on our way to Akaroa.. we took our time and was once again amazed at the beautiful little houses and quaint looking town.. they are truly stunning.. the markets were a bit more suited for locals though as there was not much there other than fresh produce, I did however manage to eat the best ice cream I have ever had! It was frozen banana with belgian chocolate and I swear to god it was the best thing I have ever eaten and was worth the trip just for that!
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We then travelled the hour or so further it took to get to Akaroa where we were going to catch a boat out to see the dolphins. We got there just after 1pm and missed out on the 1.30pm boat so decided to catch the next one at 3pm.. by doing this we got a free fish and chips voucher.. so off we went to eat some fush and chups on the esplanade. We found this incredibly busy little take away shop and presented our vouchers and got the best battered fish and chips you could possibly find... yummy! We are certainly eating well over here :)
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After we did that we went for a walk around, had a look at some of the souvenir and gift shops and the pretty little houses with their gorgeous gardens. They have the most beautiful rose bushes. We also stopped in a the local library where they were seling hardcover books for just $4! I picked up a Gabriel Garcia Marquez book that I haven't read and would have got more but for the fact that I couldn't take them home :)
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It soon was 3 o'clock so we headed down to the dock and boarded our boat.. we got excellent seats right up the front. The wind was very cold at this time of the day on the boat but boy was it worth it.. again and I know I say this every day the scenery was beautiful! We also got to see the little Hector Dolphins, this was so exciting and the highlight was seeing a mother and calf.. even the tour guide was impressed when she came along, so we felt very priveleged and lucky.
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We also saw a couple of seals lazing on a rock and a penguin going for a swim.. it was great fun!
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After we finished the boat ride we headed back to Christchurch and decided to brave the city for the Chinese Lantern festival.. it was chaos.. there were people everywhere but we managed to find a park and braved Victoria square to check things out.
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First thing we wanted to do was eat, you would think this would be a simple process but there would have been 15,000 people at this festival and it was a bit of a nightmare for us country bumpkins not very used to crowds.. we ended up finding some food and having a quick bite before having a look at some of the lanterns.. we didn't last long though as we were so tired from our big day and there were just too many people.. so we headed home to sleep!

Posted by sonya13 01:30 Archived in New Zealand Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Tranzalpine Train Trip

sunny 22 °C

We were all very excited about this trip as everyone said to make sure we did it. We all got up nice and early as we were being picked up by a shuttle into town at 7.15am.. it was a bit chilly but not too bad.. in fact the weather here has been gorgeous the whole time and it is only cold when you get a bit of the wind.
Ok anyway back to the train trip.. we checked in and got our carriage letter and seat number and it was really groovy with a table in the middle of 4 seats (2 either side) so we immediately sent all the kids to one table and us adults took the other!
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We settled in and waited for the train to start.. it was a really cool way to see the country and the train driver/conductors did an excellent job on the commentary on all the small towns along the way. It is 228kms long and goes through 19 tunnels.. a couple of highlights was a place where the population consisted of 1 person named Barry.. we all had a lot of fun speculating about what that would be like, there was also another town where apparently it became a bit of a refuge for dodgy people because of it's isolation and cheap rent.. again we had a bit of fun coming up with various scenarios and lastly of course was the station called Jackson which caused Ian and Gary to sing the song every time it was mentioned! This prompted Wendy to tell Ian that when he got back on the train to remember they were in carriage K (we were in I)
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Of course the main highlight was the scenery which again was spectacular.. I am not a scenery person but this takes your breath away every time.
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We got to Greymouth and had a quick look around, went to the post office and got some stamps so we could send a few postcards and to the chemist because Savannah is still fighting a cold, Wendy and I found a great stationary shop where we got the kids activity books and novels for them to read on the return journey, we also picked up a packet of cards, the train only stopped for 40 minutes and then it was time to go back to Christchurch.
As we had already enjoyed the scenery we decided it was a perfect opportunity to have a few drinks and play Knock Poker on the trip home.. this was great fun.. not to mention the fact that alcohol is so cheap over here and the sizes of their premix drinks seem bigger while their beer is smaller.. love this photo LOL
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We had a great trip back and we all got a bit tipsy.. think it is a bit of a big trip for the kids though, they were great and very well behaved but it got a bit boring in the end.. I would probably recommend breakng the trip over two days and staying the night in Greymouth.
We got back to Christchurch and our coach driver asked us to wait in his shuttle while he tried to find the other people that were supposed to be with us, we waited for a while took over his radio and had a great time in his van LOL.. he finally took us back to the park where we all promptly fell in a heap exhausted!

Posted by sonya13 00:58 Archived in New Zealand Tagged train_travel Comments (0)

The Maori Experience

Willowbank Reserve

sunny 20 °C

The reason we were a bit rushed at Hanmer Springs was we had booked to do the Maori Experience at Willowbank Reserve and were being picked up at 6.05pm.. an interesting sidenote it doesn't get dark here until 9pm so it is a bit disorienting knowing what time it is.
We rushed back here got changed had a sink shower and was out the front waiting for the shuttle. We got a great bus driver named Steve whom we soon made friends with and arrived at the reserve. The location is gorgeous and the staff were all friendly and we immediately liked the place. We were informed on the way that it was happy hour and so decided to try the local beer. It was a bit warm for me I can't drink beer unless it is cold so I didn't finish mine but a little thing like that didn't bother the boys! The kids were soon distracted by feeding some deer outside and Steve took us off to have a photo taken with a kiwi... well the kiwi was kind of stuffed LOL

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Before long it was time to watch the Maori Experience, this was really terrific.. fun and informative and I highly recommend it.We went for a walk along the reserve and our guide gave us some background on the Maori people. We then went into the theatre section where the Maori dancers showed us some of their dances and then invited us to go up and try some thing. I tried to learn how to use some traditional ball called a Poi and as I am totally unco-ordinated this just served to make Gary and Rhett laugh until they cried... but then it was my turn to laugh at Gary as he attempte to learn the Haka
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After the show it was time for dinner, which was absolutely delicious! 3 courses and a taster.. this dinner/show is truly good value for money and we had a ball.. highly recommend!
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After dinner we went for a nature walk around the reserve where we saw some birds including the famous Kiwi, they are a lot bigger than I imagined.. I always thought they were the size of a quail but they are as big as a chicken, you weren't allowed to use flash photography so I didn't get a good photo but at least we can now say we saw a kiwi :)
It was a really great night and a highlight of the trip, if you ever get over here make sure you do this :)

Posted by sonya13 10:00 Archived in New Zealand Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Hanmer Springs

Hot Springs, lunch and an A-mazing Adventure

sunny 24 °C

We were a little late getting started today but eventually got ourselves organised enough to head about 90 minutes up the road to a little town called Hanmer Springs, like everywhere in this beautiful country.. the view was amazing the whole way there and the roads are brilliant to drive on.

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Some of the highlights of the drive were the scenery of course and there was some road works going on and they had this little vehicle called the Pilot Vehicle took guided you through the road works.. we thought this was hilarious because there was no where else you could go so couldn't work out the need for that but made us realise that council workers are the same all over the world :)
We arrive at Hanmer Springs and find a park and head to a cafe for something to eat. We discover a cute little cafe called Mr Mumbles and order a very yummy lunch.. for the foodies out there.. I had Sundried Tomato, Spinach and Chicken Filo and Salad, Savannah had lasagne, Rhett - Fish and Chips and I can't remember what Gary had LOL but it was all delicious!

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We then headed to the hot springs, where we changed into our togs and soaked in the water, they had a water slide as well so the kids went on that and Rhett soon made friends with an american boy and they hung out for the good part of an hour while we sampled all the different hot springs ranging in temperature from 21 - 41 degrees.. it was very relaxing and a little dehydrating!

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I would have liked to have used the spa and got a massage or something but there was no time and so we headed out of the Springs and had a look at a couple of the gift shops and then went to the A-Maz-n golf where we rushed through a maze with two teams the boys vs girls.. it was a pretty cool set up and the kids loved it

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Posted by sonya13 09:30 Archived in New Zealand Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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