A gentle breeze wafted the fragrant aroma of azaleas our way and drew us into the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. We walked through, on our way to our real adventure, punting on the Avon River. Normally, an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, today the tranquil gardens are also an escape from the never-ending remnants of the two earthquakes (2010 and 2011) that devastated this New Zealand city.
Surrounded by mature trees, colourful flowers, and the gently flowing Avon River, we felt life slow down. We strolled, rather than walked, breathed deeply, and relaxed. The 21 hectares of the Christchurch Botanical Gardens are a place to enjoy. Looking around, we could quickly understand why Christchurch is New Zealand’s Garden City (although Dunedin also claims the nickname).
Christchurch Botanic Gardens
Punting on the Avon River
As we strolled the gardens, time only mattered as we had a booking to go punting on the Avon River.
Our time on the water was much more than just a boat ride. The Edwardian dressed punter shared stories and history with us as he guided us down a section of the Avon river. Self-proclaimed guardians of the river, a big part of the punter’s job is minimizing their impact on the environment.
The boats, called punts, are different from the gondolas of Venice.
- Punts are flat-bottomed vessels designed for shallow water. They are moved by pushing against the river bed with a pole. (They are found in both New Zealand and England).
- Venetian gondolas are a shallow draft boat propelled with an oar.
Antigua Boat Sheds
Built in 1882, the Antigua Boat Sheds have always been used for commercial boat hire. They are New Zealand’s only surviving 19th-century boat sheds built for this purpose. They survived both earthquakes and are still operational. It is here that we began our punting adventure. Aside from punting on the Avon, one can rent canoes, kayaks, paddle boats, or traditional rowboats at the boatsheds.
Practical Information: Christchurch Botanic Gardens and punting on the Avon
- Located in Hagley Park, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens are free to enter. They are open every day from 7 am to 9 pm.
- There is a visitor centre, cafe, and conservatories with different hours. Check the official website for more information.
- Punting on the Avon is available year-round, although hours vary with the seasons. Blankets are available (plus hot water bottles in the winter) to keep you warm and cosy.
- The punting on the Avon experience is a 30-minute return.
- While not required, it’s best to make a booking in advance. → Click here to schedule through Viator or consider the Christchurch sightseeing pass.
- We stayed at the Crowne Plaza in Christchurch City, which is walking distance to the botanic gardens.
**If you want to save money on four of the city’s top attractions, consider a Christchurch Sightseeing Pass from Viator.**
The Christchurch pass can be used on different days and includes:
- Punting on the Avon River
- An open-top caterpillar bus tour of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens
- Christchurch Gondola ride
- An opportunity to enjoy 17-stops during a hop-on-hop-off tour aboard the Christchurch Tram.
Are you a fan of botanic gardens? Have you been punting on the Avon River in Christchurch?
Disclaimer: We receive a small commission from a few of the links on this page. You pay the same, or sometimes less. Also, we worked with the local tourism board who arranged for our punting on the Avon experience to assist in the writing of this review. The opinions expressed here are strictly our own.
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