Land Of The Contrasts- ‘The Garden City’ of Christchurch: Papanui, New Zealand

Land Of The Contrasts- ‘The Garden City’ of Christchurch: Papanui, New Zealand

If you’re an adventurer, nature-lover, history buff, beach-surfer, mountain hiker, foodie, et al., to put in a nutshell- a traveller, Papanui, Christchurch, New Zealand is the right place for you!

Here, you can ski, bungee jump, mountain bike, hike, surf, raft, swim, play golf, watch whales in Kaikoura, visit wineries and gardens, go shopping at the Re:START ,an outdoor retail and café precinct, be entertained, awed and so much more, all that just  within two hours of an international airport. Exciting, isn’t it? So now lets roughly map out its location.

It is literally at the edge of the world. Amidst the clouds mounted atop the peaks of the  Southern Alps, stretching to the Canterbury plains, at the very brink resides Christchurch, New Zealand’s oldest and second largest city with Papanui being one of its several beautiful suburbs.

Encaved within the realms of lofty mountain peaks and glaciers, alpine hot pools, lakes and rivers, the ocean with awe-inspiring beaches possessing some of the worlds rarest marine life, and rivers encircling the lush green hills and entwining the broad plains, and the unbolted ocean with hedged bays, sandy beaches fencing bush-clad valleys, craggy coastlines and  impenetrable wild woods, lies the legendary Land of the Maori Tribe, now Christchurch, the Garden City which is surely worth a visit.

Now what is the legend after all. To render that one needs to  etymological analyse the name which is adorned with three different meanings. Literally, it translates to ‘big plain’(papa meaning flat and nui meaning big), which felicitously can be implemented in two cases, both indicating its geographical position. It might be referring to the Canterbury Plains which is truly New Zealand’s flattest city. And as, being a wooded area in the early days, the Papanui bush, known for its huge diversity of different species of Aves was a common hunting place, and it is this hunting platform that was built in between trees where birds were entrapped which is now known as papanui.

But, it is the third interpretation that has a proper Maori legend, which elucidates the meaning ‘funeral pyre’ to the name. It is the story of Tuhaitara, a Ngāi Tahu princess who sent her two sons Tamareroa and Huirapa – to kill their father and her former husband, Marukore who was living in Papanui Bush. The father aware of their intentions, killed the boys as they arrived and made a huge pyre out of Papanui Bush to cremate them. Scary, isn’t it?

But, contrary to the name ‘funeral pyre’, the place is ablazed  with  life and is often referred to as the ‘alive city’ .And, now some bites on the Garden City!

                       hagley park

Christchurch, the celebrated ‘Garden City’ is known for its natural beauty which breathes throughout the year and houses some 740 parks covering some 3,000 hectares. It rose to its fame after winning the Major Cities in the Nations in Bloom International Competition in 1997 and  became the ‘Garden City of the World’!

It is said that one third of all public land in Christchurch  is devoted to parks and reserves. And the jewel among all gold is the Hagley Park, the green heart of the city. An epitome of serenity with 161 hectares of majestic trees, greenery, lakes, playing fields and flowers, it is  neatly hemmed by the Avon River.And,displaying its spectacular species of native and exotic trees, flowers and plants breathes the incredible Christchurch Botanic Gardens, within the realms of the Hayley Park.

If you wish to visit the garden city and witness the spasm of colours shrouding the city then the very beginning of the year would be the best time, as two large floral festivals occur every year during this time, The Festival of Flowers in February and he Ellerslie International Flower Show in March.

Now, lets discover the awesome sights awaiting every kind of traveller, in the city of Gardens.


Before you start scribbling the names of all the places you want to visit there, do remember, the best way to explore the city is by joining a guided bike tour, or simply  on a vintage bike in style! But ,if you  wish to unwind your muscles and save them all that exercise, hop on a Hassle Free double-decker bus that provides spectacular glimpses of the city along with  informative  commentary. And, if you are the kind ,up for something outlandish and off-centre ,a Segway tour, is  the perfect way for you to explore Christchurch. And, for all  brave-hearts who wish to get a literal ‘bird’s eye view’ of the city ,Garden City Helicopters will cater to your lofty wishes! Done with all that extra buff, now its work-time, lets scribble!

  • The Time-traveller(for all history buffs)!

Christchurch castle ruins

Its always good to discover a place chronologically, and so to have a taste of the past glory the  ruins of Christchurch Castle  is the best! Built in the late 11thC to protect the town’s and river access to the interior of Wessex. The opulent Contable’s Hall was built around 1150 and The stone keep, (slighted after 1650), replaced a wooden structure about 1300. The castle is said to have witnessed the action in the Anarchy about 1147 and in the Civil War in 1645,so be prepared for a spooky watch ‘round there!

Then comes the, Canterbury Museum where you can discover the history of Christchurch and the surrounding regions at the. But that’s not it, to learn more about the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes and their aftermath, Quake City is well worth a visit.

And, if you’re unaware, Christchurch is literally the Gateway to Antarctica, and no better place to learn more about this connection than at the International Antarctic Centre ,a place for all cold-lovers!

For all fine art enthusiasts!

the court theatre            kotane

Be inspired by the zest and talent of the  local thespians at The Court Theatre and unearth the thousand year old Māori culture at Ko Tāne. And then, wait till you get lost in the passion of the haka and be found again in the moreishness of the hangi .


For the zoo-wayfarer!

Orana Wildlife Park

If you love wild animals and love them even more in their natural habitat, this is the experience waiting for you. In the unpruned stretch of Orana Wildlife Park, you can feed giraffes and lemur, ride into a lion enclosure or even come affront with a  live rhino ,all within the realms of New Zealand’s only open range zoo. And, if you wish to come face to face with the elusive national bird- The Kiwi,Willowbank is a must!

  • Adventurer!

Bottle-Lake-Forest-Chch                      Clearwater Golf Club

McLeans Island Track or Bottle Lake Forest is the place where you can experience the joy of ridding the world on two wheels.You can head to the Natural High to  hire bikes for days at a time. When done with that ,unwind at the Clearwater Golf Club or Pegasus Golf and Sports Club and gear up for the Waimak River Horse Trekking which offers horse and pony treks and jet boating on the Waimakariri River all great for an action packed family outing!

                                Waimak River Horse Trekking

  • For the Shopaholic!

RE-Start           christchurch-re-start-mall-1

The best way to conclude a trip is by shopping, and  Re:START  is that one place that has it all! An outdoor retail and café precinct built in fashionably presented shipping containers it was opened in October 2011, and has grown to approximately 40 retailers, a number of food caravans and a market on the weekend. So now, you know where to look for your last minute souvenir shopping!

Christchurch, the land of contrasts breeds nature alongside its rapid  growth of urbanization and establishes an exemplifying approach to the law of living in harmony with nature. Cited the 2nd ranker to The New York Times’ 52 Places to Go in 2014, Christchurch  is facilitated with luxurious accommodation and a plethora of places to drink and eat to the hearts fullest, a wealth of things to see and do plus a wide variety of festivals and events to witness, its is truly a place of merriment and celebration  at anytime of the  year!

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