Christchurch: Gondola, Canterbury Museum

In the interest of time (mine), this will be yet another quick, probably typo-filled post. Today we rode up on the Christchurch Gondola and visited the Canterbury Museum.

Christchurch Gondola

View from atop Mount Cavendish after riding Christchurch Gondola
View from atop Mount Cavendish after riding Christchurch Gondola

I looked at two different tour books and one phone-based walking tours app. All of them agreed that the Christchurch Gondola is a, if not the, top attraction in Christchurch. This confused me. Christchurch is one of the flattest cities I’ve ever been in. I didn’t see so much of a hint of a hills when walking around yesterday.

Plus, my hotel room is on the 11th floor. I can see quite a distance. But I can’t see any rises in the land.

Another view from atop Mount Cavendish after riding Christchurch Gondola
Another view from atop Mount Cavendish after riding Christchurch Gondola

The description of the Christchurch Gondola, which included “great views,” didn’t sound like it was Venetian gondolas. So, what gives?

Turns out, the gondola base is not right in Christchurch. There’s a shuttle bus that goes directly there from Cathedral Square, near our hotel. In about 15 minutes, the bus took us to the bottom a small mountain, Mount Cavendish, southeast of Christchurch. From there, we rode the gondola up to the top.

Mount Cavendish is part of a range to the south of Christchurch.

Yet another view from atop Mount Cavendish after riding Christchurch Gondola
Yet another view from atop Mount Cavendish after riding Christchurch Gondola

The summit indeed provided some great views. Although it was hazy, we could make out another mountain range well to the north of Christchurch. Wikipedia says the Canterbury Plains is to the south of Christchurch. To me, this implies that Christchurch itself is not on the Canterbury Plains.

From atop Mount Cavendish, it looks like one contiguous plain between the two mountain ranges, with Christchurch in the middle of that plain. So, if Wikipedia is right, I don’t know where the dividing line is and what the plain from Christchurch north is called.

We also walked a trail near the summit of Mount Cavendish before riding the gondola back down.

Canterbury Museum

Canterbury Museum
Canterbury Museum

In addition to being a town in the UK that has some tales, Canterbury is also a region in New Zealand. Christchurch is the biggest city in New Zealand’s Canterbury and the home of the Canterbury Museum.

The Canterbury Museum is fairly large. According to the map they hand out at the entrance, it contains three flours: One, two and four. Don’t ask me what happened to the third floor. At one point, we walked up the stairs to the café, which is the only public space on the “fourth” floor. There didn’t seem to be an unlabeled, inaccessible floor between the second and fourth floor.

Maybe the great Christchurch earthquake of 2011 knocked the third floor cleanly out of the building without damaging the first, second, or fourth floor. That seems astronomically unlikely to me, but I don’t have any other explanation. It’s just one of life’s little mysteries, I guess.

The museum contains some of the sorts of exhibits you’d expect in any museum—dinosaur skeletons, an Egyptian mummy, and some other old Egyptian and Asian artifacts. In addition to that there are also dioramas and displays on the early Māori days in the area, and the geology and fauna of the Canterbury region.

There is also an extensive Antarctic exhibit. In particular, it covers expeditions to Antartica. This section included a short black and white film about a Commonwealth Antarctic expedition.

I’ve probably forgotten a few exhibits. I don’t have time to look them up on the web to refresh my memory. If you’re really, really interested, Google can probably help you with that.

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