When I first started researching our trip to New Zealand I quickly realized that one week was nowhere near enough time to see it all. New Zealand is made up of a north and south island and even though they look tiny on a map don’t be fooled! You can drive for hours. Our flight from Sydney, Australia took us to Christchurch where we stayed in a lovely Bed & Breakfast. We stayed a week and explored the area all around the South Island. Christchurch really reminded me of Florida, if you’ve ever been you’ll know what I mean. The houses are built close together on tight-knit city blocks. The one thing we noticed that is different from neighborhoods at home in the U.S. is that most houses have a tall fence all around the property, especially along the street side.
Surprisingly enough, we did not find a lot of hotel options. Christchurch has more motel options and since we were unfamiliar with the area we opted for a lovely Bed & Breakfast that had great reviews and a homey feel since we were staying for a week. We stayed at The Lilac Rose right in the heart of Christchurch and had the most comfortable stay. Upon our arrival we were greeted by the resident Golden Retriever, Maddie. She is the sweetest dog, so calm and pleasant. The owners, Pam and Denis, were most accommodating. Pam made sure that we had everything we needed for a comfortable stay and Denis cooked up a hot breakfast every morning! I would highly recommend staying at The Lilac Rose over a motel any day. Here are some pictures from the lovely B&B, be sure to click through the slideshow:
One of the attractions in Christchurch that you don’t want to miss is the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. There is no fee to enter the gardens and there is so much to see. We were there at the beginning of spring so the gardens were not in full bloom but we were still pleasantly surprised. The Central Rose Garden is absolutely stunning with the arched entryway and the many varietals of roses. One can’t help but stop and smell the roses! There are multiple conservatories, a paddling pool and nice walking paths. Visiting the Botanic Gardens was definitely a highlight of Christchurch.
A lovely day trip is just a short drive away to a small seaside town called Akaroa. This little town is a historic French and British settlement with quaint shops, restaurants and inns. We spent the day here and took an engaging harbor nature cruise with Black Cat Cruises. We were taken on a delightful tour of the harbor and the captain made sure that we saw plenty of wildlife. The crew were very knowledgeable of the area and knew exactly where to look to find dolphins, sea lions and even White Flippered Blue Penguins, the smallest penguins in the world!
I must mention that on our drive to Akaroa from Christchurch, we stopped at a charming roadside stand for a traditional New Zealand meat pie. This savory hand-held pie is a staple in New Zealand. The one in the picture had chicken, brie and cranberries baked inside of a flaky crust. This was a delicious lunch!
It would be lovely to go back to Akaroa someday and stay for awhile in this little village tucked away from the rest of the world.