The largest city on New Zealand’s South Island, Christchurch, is the perfect place for walkers, hikers, and culture and innovation lovers. Bébé Voyage Ambassador Rebecca Hardy shares her favorite spots, as well as a bit about her family’s life under quarantine.
Q. Can you tell us a little about your family?
A. We live in Christchurch, New Zealand. Paul, my husband, and I have been together for 21 years and married for almost 15 years. We have three beautiful children: Ollie (6), Foster (3) and Ava (1). Paul owns a construction company and I am a radio journalist and newsreader.
Q. What do you like the most about the area you live in?
A. It’s very beautiful; it’s known as the Garden City. Christchurch has a massive inner-city botanic garden and recreational park which includes an international cricket arena and a golf course. It’s set between the east coast of the South Island and the Southern Alps mountain range. I like that it has defined seasons. It’s really hot in summer so we can make the most of a number of beaches, and it’s frosty cold and sunny in the winter so it’s perfect for skiing. The city is also nestled in the Port Hills which are great for mountain biking and walks with incredible views.
Christchurch was rocked by a major earthquake in 2011. It’s an inspiring place to live as there are many creative people starting businesses and helping to rebuild the city.
Q. How are you keeping the spirit of travel alive?
A. We have talked about the places we will travel to within New Zealand once we are allowed to do so: Queenstown, Kaikoura and up to the North Island near Wellington to visit my parents. There is talk that New Zealand will first open its borders with Australia and possibly the Pacific Islands, so we have discussed going to Sydney. I would also love a family trip to a gorgeous tropical island like Samoa. It’s exciting to start thinking about the places we want to travel to!
Q. What are your tips and tricks for homeschooling?
A. We have a similar routine every weekday so that the children know what is expected. We start our day slowly, but at 9 a.m. the school work begins with some reading and writing. Morning tea and lunch are at the same time each day and by 3 p.m. we are usually off on a bike ride or having a dance party in our lounge. I’m not putting pressure on myself to ‘teach’ them from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. If after reading and writing they want to do some more, we do. If not, I let them play or we play a game together.
My kids are young so they benefit from play-based activities anyway. The biggest piece of advice that I’ve taken onboard is that I’m not a teacher so I shouldn’t try to be. My job is to be their mum. We are in unprecedented times and I think the most important memory for my children to have is how much fun we had together as a family.
Q. How are you and your family enjoying the extra family time we get to enjoy now?
A. I am loving that we don’t have to rush out the door in the morning for the school run. We take the mornings really slowly and normally play a board game together after breakfast while still in our pyjamas. Daily walks, scooter rides or bike rides are what we like to do the most. We live on the outskirts of the city so we can easily bike to the country to see farm animals like horses, deer, cows and sheep, which the children love.
Q. Any tips on teaching your children about different cultures now that we cannot travel?
A. We are constantly having conversations around Covid-19 and how it’s affecting people all over the world which leads to speaking about different cultures. They are also learning by watching television programs and making different kinds of food.
Q. Are you going for daily walks with the kids? Which parts of Christchurch would you recommend?
A. Yes. We are only allowed to exercise locally at the moment, which means staying in our suburbs. We live in Halswell so our favorite walks have been through the Halswell Quarry, which is a beautiful public reserve, and also a walk in to the Port Hills on Kennedy Bush Track, which has awesome views. Once we are allowed to venture further around Christchurch, we will be heading for a walk at Sumner Beach and around Hagley Park and the Botanic Gardens.
Q. Everyone is dreaming about where they would like to travel once it’s safe to do so. What makes Christchurch the place that families should consider for their first adventure once they can get out and explore again?
A. Christchurch keeps getting better as it rebuilds. We have recently opened the Riverside Market, a vibrant farmers market in the middle of the CBD, and a number of restaurants in an area called the Terraces. Both overlook the Avon River. Christchurch is also a fabulous base to fly into when traveling around the South Island. If you head south through Lake Tekapo, you will see its unearthly blue water as you make your way to Queenstown and Wanaka for a snow-filled winter holiday or to hike local trails in the summer. If you head north from Christchurch, you will pass through the boutique wine region Waipara and on to where New Zealand’s famous sauvignon blanc is grown in the Malborough Sounds. The South Island scenery is incredible.
Q. If you’re still in lockdown/quarantine, what do you still love about where you live even while your movement is restricted?
A. I love the friendly nature of Kiwis. Everyone waves and says hello when out getting their daily exercise. I also love how green it is and how we can easily escape into nature.
Q. What is the first thing you would like to do once the restrictive measures are lifted?
A. See my parents. I am dying to hug them both! They are on the North Island and had to cancel their last trip to see us.
Q. What is the first trip you would like to take once we can travel again?
A. We want to visit our friends in Sydney, Australia.
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