Green and lush, Christchurch truly lives up to its name, the Garden City. These are some of its best parks that you won’t want to miss.
Those who stroll through the gardens will notice the odd cordon and warning sign, remnants of the devastating earthquakes. Although some buildings and facilities have closed, the Botanic Gardens remain open.
Founded in 1863 with the planting of an English oak tree, it now spans 21 hectares of trees, flowers, sculptures, memorials, conservatories and walking paths. Plant life includes native and exotic varieties, and many majestic trees that are over a century old. Themed gardens and carefully kept lawns attract locals and tourists alike on a daily basis. The adjacent Hagley Park and Avon River add to the charm.
Hagley Park is located in the central city and consists of North and South Hagley Park (the northern part is slightly larger) separated by Riccarton Avenue. Visitors can enter anywhere around the perimeter. Runners can be seen often around these parts, especially along the 17-station fitness circuit along the North Hagley Park track.
Spanning 165 hectares, there is no shortage of wide open spaces. Add in the golf course, soccer and rugby fields, netball courts, the woods and the cycle tracks and walking paths that also overlay the park, and there is no end of recreational options.
Set in the Cashmere Hills just above Christchurch, Victoria Park enjoys panoramic views of Christchurch, the Canterbury Plains, Pegasus Bay and the Southern Alps. The park has a vast range of tracks for walking, wheelchair and mountain bikes. Play areas, picnic areas and a dog park are some of the other amenities. There’s also an orienteering course for the more intrepid.
Expect to see and hear plenty of bird life. Tree planting is another common and traditional activity. Every year on Arboy Day school children come here to plant trees. Victoria Park is about 15 minutes away from the city centre. A cheap car hire from Hertz offers an easy way to get there.
Halswell Quarry covers 60.4 hectares, blending recreational walks, historic sites and botanical collections. Important historic buildings from the quarrying days (which ceased in 1990) sit alongside ponds and paths, rocks and wetland.
The park features six sister city gardens and a local botanical collection, spurred by the fact that the Christchurch City Botanic Gardens was running out of room. Birds here tend to prefer the bush areas and gardens with native trees, although some can be seen in the open, and some wetland birds may also venture out. Native plants have been established in many areas.There are also mature pines, eucalyptus, walnuts and other established trees. Halswell Quarry Park is a little further out from the city, about 20 minutes by car rental.