Mary Donofrio is a student at Muhlenberg College and an ISA Featured Blogger. Mary is currently studying abroad with ISA in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Kia ora team! My semester is almost over, as I’m writing this in the midst of exams, but I’ve still got plenty of tips and suggestions to share with you all. With that being said, studying abroad, unfortunately, also involves studying. While being able to explore a new country and place is an incredible experience, with the added responsibilities of trying to stay on top of class work, it’s hard to run off and adventure. Still, even with university work, there are small ways to make your days fun and exciting, that don’t involve packing your life away. In Christchurch, there are lots of small, super cool sites that you can visit and enjoy for a tiny taste of adventure, and still make it to your lecture on time. The following are a few of my favorites that I’ve discovered.
1. The Canterbury Museum: Located in the center of Christchurch’s cultural district, the Canterbury Museum houses thousands of artifacts and art pieces from all over the world. Opened in 1870, the museum’s vast collection covers everything from the history of Christchurch and the Canterbury region as a whole, Maori history, world history, and the natural world, with a particular emphasis on the biodiversity and geology of New Zealand. I spent a whole afternoon wandering the museum, and I really enjoyed taking a look at everything it had to offer, particularly the selection of birds and amazing pottery, and best of all, it was free! The museum isn’t huge, but it is in close proximity to the Botanical Gardens (which is also on this list), so you could easily make an afternoon out of both.
2. Riccarton Farmers Market: The Riccarton Farmers Market is every Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm, and probably holds the title of my favorite thing in Christchurch. Not only can you get amazing fruit and vegetables, and other staples for the week, their selection of breakfast and lunch food is unrivaled. You can grab a coffee and a breakfast item of your choice (they have plenty of options for those of you who are Vegetarian or Gluten Free) and take a seat by the Avon river for the most relaxing start to a morning I’ve ever experienced. People tend to bring their dogs as well, so if you’re missing some animal TLC, you can find it here. Also, Riccarton Bush itself is pretty cool, and you can check out a cottage that one of the first settlers of the Christchurch area lived in, or take a stroll through the bush itself.
3. Christchurch Botanic Gardens: Located right next door to the Canterbury Museum, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens are an absolutely massive garden right in the city’s center, and probably one of the reasons Christchurch is known as the Garden City. Covering 52 acres of land, the gardens have a wide variety of flora to observe. Herbs, roses, tropical plants, and other plants from all over the world are featured along with plants that are native to New Zealand. In addition to copious amounts of plant life, the gardens also have a large collection of sculptures, and pretty good ice cream. I would recommend going more than once, as they are open all year round and change with the seasons, and if you’re into photography, it’d be a great opportunity to grab some awesome shots.
4. Cardboard Cathedral: The Cardboard Cathedral, which is the home of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch, was built after the 2011 earthquake that destroyed their original cathedral, the remnants of which can still be seen in Cathedral Square. Designed by architect Shigeru Ban, the building is notable in that it is constructed partially out of cardboard, and was originally intended as a temporary structure. The building’s colorful facade and minimalist interior are quite lovely, and the space itself is very peaceful, and a good place to go if you need a minute to just think.
While there are plenty of other things to check out in Christchurch, this is a nice list to get you started. Happy exploring, and be sure to follow the ISA Student Blog for more tips and advice from all of the bloggers!
Want to read more about the land of Hobbits and epic adventures? Check out “Top 5 Reasons to Study Abroad in New Zealand”