Write in (3)& Its just like riding a bike by Benjamin Hamilton

bicclesThe initial attraction to visiting Christchurch was its colonial buildings and beautiful gardens. With only one day to enjoy the city I wasn’t sure how to fit it all in. I headed to Cathedral Square and came across a distinctive blue retro style bike outside the Information Centre. Ahh, a bike tour, those were the days…. but at my age? I haven’t ridden a bike for 25 years, I couldn’t could I? I phoned the booking line and explained my predicament. The friendly man on the other end of the line chuckled, he’d heard it all before. He assured me I would be fine and stated that Christchurch city was very flat and the guide takes a very leisurely paced tour. So I signed myself up! On meeting the guide and six other people in Cathedral Square we were fitted with our bikes and helmets. The bikes were great, big comfortable seats, a basket at the front for my bag and best of all, a bell that I could ring!

We pedalled down Worcester Boulevard along a lovely cobbled street to the Arts Centre. In front of us stood several beautiful gothic style buildings that originally housed the University of Canterbury. It is now home to craft studios, cafes, art galleries and live theatre. There was also an open air market with stalls selling all sorts of arts and crafts. Next stop was the historic Antigua Boatsheds where we pedalled alongside the English style punt into the Botanic Gardens and then Hagley Park, the green heart of Christchurch. We biked on the cycle ways enjoying the open space and fresh air.

After heading out of the Park we arrived at the lovely homestead of Riccarton House and the historic Dean’s Cottage. We were told a tale or two here and saw a reconstruction of what life was like for the hardy pioneers. Our guide locked up the bikes and took us for a short walk through a precious piece of virgin New Zealand bush with rare Kahikatea trees. We even caught a glimpse of a native Fantail. Once back on our trusty bikes we headed to Mona Vale, a beautiful estate with sculptured gardens, a lovely homestead, as well as two gate houses. We stopped here for tea and scones on the veranda of the old homestead.

The final stretch took us along to New Regent Street, a colourful little pedestrian only street (except for cyclists of course!) filled with antique stores and cafes. This is where I had to bid farewell to my new cycle friends and reflect on the saying …it’s just like riding a bike.

First Published: Jun 25, 2008

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *