If you want to squeeze as much of Christchurch's top attractions as possible into one day, then the Grand Tour is a pretty darn good way of doing it.
As well as checking out the Garden City's beautiful parks and gardens, quaint seaside suburbs, English heritage and contemporary architecture, stunning harbour views and the scenery of Port Hills, you'll also see Christchurch 's three premier attractions - Christchurch Tram, Christchurch Gondola and Punting on the Avon .
So what's included on the Grand Tour? Well, the bus stops at all kinds of cool places including Mona Vale Gardens , Lyttelton Harbour and Sumner Seaside Village. Historic Mona Vale features five and a half hectares of gorgeous gardens and lush lawns leading down to the Avon River. Jump off here and get amongst the flowers and nature and all that green stuff. Yeah.
You can't visit Christchurch without punting on the River Avon. And we're not talking about placing a bet about whether or not your pebble will skim across the water, we're talking about getting in a boat and having some Edwardian bloke wearing a boater pole you quietly on a 30 minute ride past willows, woodlands, leafy banks and the sights of Christchurch as you float on by. Reeeelaaaaaaxxxxxxxing.
The Christchurch Gondola is the best way to get to the top of Port Hills for 360 degree views across Christchurch , over the Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps, across Banks Peninsula , Lake Ellesmere and Lyttelton Harbour and the beaches of the Pacific Ocean to the Kaikoura Peninsula . There's a restaurant, café, shop, time tunnel experience at the top, as well as heaps of mountain bike and walking tracks to explore.
"the bus stops at all kinds of cool places including Mona Vale Gardens , Lyttelton Harbour and Sumner Seaside Village. Historic Mona Vale."
From the gondola, the tour heads through New Zealand 's longest road tunnel carved through the crater wall of the extinct volcanic crater which forms Lyttleton Harbour . You then emerge out the other side into the historic port of Lyttelton where the early settlers to Canterbury first landed. The tour then heads to the rugged harbour side of the crater wall, across Evans Pass and across down into the seaside village of Sumner , which is choc-a-block with boutique shops, cafes and restaurants across from a sandy beach.
Then finish up the tour around Christchurch on a vintage tram, which goes past heritage buildings, parks, shopping precincts, Cathedral Square , Worcester Boulevard and the Arts Centre, with great commentary from the driver. Your tram ticket lets you get on and off any of the trams for the rest of the day, which is a great way to explore the city and really get to know Christchurch .
The Grand Tour starts at 8.30am daily, with pick-ups from inner city accommodation or 9am from the Tram Stop in Cathedral Square .
It finishes at approximately 3.30pm, or continue using your tram ticket to explore the inner city by yourself.
It costs $99 which includes the tram, gondola and punting on the Avon .
The tram is a 30-minute tour of the city sights, and stops at Cathedral Square, punting on the Avon, Art Gallery, Arts Centre, Clock Tower, Hagley Park, Cranmer Square, the casino, Victoria Square, New Regent Street and the Tram Station. For more information visit www.tram.co.nz
The punting trip is a 30 minute guided tour on a classic Cambridge Punt through the botanical gardens. For more information visit www.punting.co.nz
The 945 metre Austrian Doppelmayer Gondola goes to the top of Port Hills, almost 500 metres above sea level. It's open daily from 10am. For more information visit www.gondola.co.nz
Rachel stayed at Stonehurst Backpackers, 241 Gloucester Street , Christchurch , just two blocks from the city centre, with 24 hour reception. For more info call 03 379 4620 or Freephone: 0508 STONED (0508 786 633) or visit www.stonehurst.co.nz