(Feb 16, 2003) Maori history suggests people first inhabited the Canterbury area about one thousand years ago. These early moa-hunting tribes were followed by the Waitaha, thought to have migrated from the East Coast of the North Island to the Pegasus Bay area of Canterbury early in the 16th century. They were joined later by members of the northern tribes Ngati Mamoe and Ngai Tahu, with migration continuing until about 1830.
The first Europeans landed in Canterbury in 1815, 45 years after Captain James Cook sighted Banks Island, later discovered to be a peninsula. Whaling ships were operating out of Lyttlelton by 1835, and in 1840 the first Europeans to settle on the plain arrived. In 1850 and 1851, organized groups of English settlers--the founders of Christchurch--arrived in Lyttlelton in four ships. Christchurch became a city by Royal Charter on July 31, 1856, making it officially the oldest established city in New Zealand. Population of Christchurch City: 316,227 per 2001 census.
The city is separated from the sea by a series of hills and mountains. In order to visit the city we elected to take the Princess provided shuttle bus to travel the 20 mile trek.
On our way to the city we traveled along the shoreline business/housing corridor (above top left). After traveling for about five miles we approached the entrance to a tunnel that goes through the mountain. We emerged into the outskirts of the city. Note the housing that covers the hillsides.
Our primary goal was the visit their Botanical Park and Gardens. The shuttle took us to the center of town (lower right above set of photos) where we embarked on a cable car to ride to the Garden entrance.
While we were waiting for the cable car we couldn't help but visit a flea market tourist trap across the street. (Actually, we were looking for a restroom.) We found the restroom in a cluster of buildings behind the flea market. What Lynn found to be humorous was that the restroom sign was placed above the sign on a door stating "New Zealand Institute of Architects Headquarters."
In a courtyard in this building cluster hung the wire sculpture shown in the photo on the right above. The sculpture has two side that form an "L." The cable car, shown above, not only serves to transport people around the town but is in effect a tour of the city. When we were finished with our garden we rode the car. The driver pointed things out along the way telling us about some of the history and various points of interest. He also had quite a sense of humor.
As we entered the park we were enthralled with how spacious the grounds were and the birds that freely roamed within it. There were many new "bird sounds" that we heard but we seldom found them hidden in the trees.
The tree, in the left photo above, is estimated to be over 500 years old. Crystal stands alongside a sequoia tree in the right photo. We noticed that all of the trees were elegantly pruned and had their limbs supported by cables that interlaced the tree. It helps to maintain the shape of the tree and prevent breakage of limbs from strong winds.
As we traversed the walkway lined with floral activity we eventually approached the rose garden area. At the entrance we walk under arches covered with roses and find that the arches continue into the Garden serving to separate it into two halves.
The roses at the lower left is hybrid tea called Moody Blues--a cross of Sexy Resy and Blue Nile. What we liked about the individual bed was how they used the flowers to form a border (middle right). The purple phlox (lower right) were outstanding.
Red Hot Poker makes a stunning display.
The begonia's were in their full glory. The building and arrangement of the plants in the Begonia Garden reminded us of Wellington's Begonia Garden.
This poinsettia plant caught our attention as we turned a corner. It is one plant--not an assembly of plants. You can see it to the left of the lower right picture. As we left the Begonia Garden we saw a small sign directing us to the Bonsai Garden. The plants are in a non-descript slatted building that looks a bit like a tool shed. The plants in it however, were interesting. Some of them are shown below.
As we left the Bonsai Garden we stumbled upon an area for desert type plants.
This cactus almost looks like an animal. The needles give it the appearance of fur.
If you look beyond the round cactus you can see more of the "furry" kind beyond. We took an ice cream break after our cactus tour. For some reason, the birds really like Crystal when she is eating.
When we left the Garden we hopped aboard the cable car nearby and rode to the town center.
This church, located in town, is built with two types of stone found in the area. The light stone is rather soft and can be cut with a saw. The dark stone is hard. Most of the buildings are built with this combination of stone. We found it interesting how the church had created petunia trees. There are a number of rows of shelves forming a tree with potted petunia plants on them.
There is a nice little park near the center of the city. After spending some monies acting like tourists we once again hopped on the Princess shuttle bus and made our way "home."
That evening we sat on our balcony as we sailed away toward our next destination -- Dunedin.
Next Stop: Dunedin, New Zealand
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