Earlier this week, Sheila highlighted some of the best places to view Fall foliage but here in the Southern Hemisphere, we are heading not into Fall but into Spring.

daffodilsSo, instead of colourful autumn leaves, we are seeing fields of daffodils, flowering cherry trees, and flowers that lay dormant throughout winter wake up and blossom.

As far as I’m concerned, there’s no better place to view this springtime experience  in New Zealand than at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

Situated right in the heart of the city, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens is like a diverse living plant encyclopaedia, featuring over 10,000 exotic and indigenous plants, spread over 30 hectares.

It’s full of twisting and turning paths, a meandering river, long sweeping lawns, a tropical conservatory, and gardens that offer a variety of plants and flowers. During the winter, walking through the gardens is done as fast as possible while trying to stay warm and dry.

But as soon as Spring arrives, it’s a different story. The warmth of Spring entices us to slowly stroll around the gardens, taking time to look, admire, and be amazed by the colors and fragrances of the flowers on display.

peacock fountainThe children run around, playing hide and seek behind the huge oak trees planted over a century ago and throw coins into the ostentatious Peacock Fountain.

 Built in the Edwardian era, the fountain had been dismantled in 1949 due to recurring maintenance problems. Five decades later, it was resurrected but not without controversy amidst locals (one letter to the newspaper described the fountain as looking ‘like a refugee from a confectioner’s nightmare’).

Today, it’s a popular drawcard for locals and tourists alike.

 

The Botanic Gardens really is the perfect place to relax from the pressures of the world. Take a book, a journal, and a camera and sit by the banks of the Avon river and be entertained by those attempting to steer kayaks and paddle boats.

Maybe even pack a picnic and make a day of it.

But on this spring day, we skipped the picnic and headed over to the Curator’s House Restaurant just inside the gates of the Botanic Gardens, for a light lunch. Once the official curators residence, this 1920s building is now home to an innovative restaurant serving Spanish-New Zealand style cuisine. Everything is fresh, including the herbs and vegetables handpicked from the adjoined organic garden.

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Liz Lewis is a New Zealand based writer who favors wine tasting and food markets over bungy jumping and mountain climbing.