Botanic Gardens Tour by Solar-Powered Caterpillar
Christchurch, New Zealand
- The gardens: Organized by theme and season, the huge collection includes thousands of plants from around the world – accentuated by lime tree walkways, great lawns, classic glass conservatories, a historic English fountain, and other scenic features.
- Your ride: With their neon-green paint job and friendly looking profile, the Gardens' battery-powered Caterpillar shuttles are a sweet ride indeed; a bit like something out of Alice in Wonderland or A Bug's Life.
- Knowledgeable guides: You'll get tons of fun botanical facts and garden history from your driver/narrator. Catch it all aboard the full hour-long loop, or hop off at stops along the way to explore garden sections on foot, and then hop back on for more.
About This Christchurch Tour
It started in 1863 with the planting of a single English oak in a marshy wetland along the Avon, less than half a mile from Christchurch town center. Today, it's a magnificent array of distinct gardens and conservatories fully surrounded by mature trees and magnificent lawns. Even if you're not a full-on nature freak, hopping aboard a shiny green Caterpillar to tour these Botanic Gardens is sure to be a captivating experience.
Showstoppers you'll see include Victorian-style annual bedding displays, an expansive azalea and magnolia area, and a century-old English-style rose garden featuring over 250 varieties of bush, climbing, standard, and miniature roses.
There's also a garden reserved just for New Zealand native species, another for the Southern Hemisphere's longest herbaceous border planting, a special fragrance garden developed just to delight your sense of smell, an extensive garden where culinary and medicinal herbs grow – even a sheltered water garden brimming with irises and lily pads.
As if that wasn't enough, there's a Temperate Asian Collection (super-showy in spring and fall), a moist fernery, and five different climate-controlled glasshouses and conservatories where exotic tropical, desert cacti, jungle orchids, and carnivorous plants thrive and flower. Plus another where unique alpine plants like sub-Antarctic daisies tough enough to survive sleet storms are free to relax and grow under the New Zealand sun.
And here's a handy science tip: if all this fresh oxygen causes you to lose your bearings, you can always hop off to reset your mental compass at the gardens' historic Magnetic Observatory building – where Antarctic-bound explorers Robert Scott and Ernest Shackleton stopped to recalibrate their instruments before heading southward in the early 1900s.
If only they'd had Caterpillars back then, those trips could have been so much easier.
Float your boat
When the first Maori arrived around 1280, primeval forest covered three-fourths of New Zealand. Settlement by Europeans in the late 1700s led to heavy land clearing, and only about 20 percent of the land is still forested today. The Botanical Gardens showcases many iconic indigenous species – from the giant red pine used for fine furniture making, to the world's largest fuchsia, to the silver tree fern that's the Kiwis' national symbol, and the light and strong Podocarpus totara tree which grows to 130 feet and is prized for canoe building
Please make your way to the Canterbury Museum entrance or the Botanic Gardens at 9 Rolleston Avenue to begin your adventure.
Bring small coins for the bathroom. Take a light jacket or rain coat for the weather. The Gardens are roughly 51 miles from the port area of Akaroa.
The amount of walking is at the traveler's discretion while visiting the attraction. Varying surfaces will be encountered during your tour.
Cultural, Scenic, Family Friendly
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated moderate. Full participation may require extended periods of walking over even and uneven surfaces, steep terrain and/or water activity in a slight current. There may be steps, inclines, cobblestone surfaces, and extended periods of standing. Participants with physical limitations should take this into account.
Suitable for all ages.
Non-refundable if canceled within 24 hours of requested services.
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