The Christchurch Gondola on Mount Cavendish is rated as Christchurch’s most popular tourist attraction and offers soaring views of Christchurch and Lyttleton. You can sit above the Canterbury Plains and look at the beautiful countryside while eating at The Red Rock Café, which has an interesting assortment of menu items. The Time Tunnel is great for theme park enthusiasts that want to see something a little different than the normal fare.
The views from the mountain top are amazing. Even with the wind blowing. There is hiking available if that’s your thing. You can walk almost entirely around the outside of the third floor to see Lyttleton Bay and the other bodies of water.
At the Red Rock Café, we ordered the Beetroot Latte and waffles with bananas, bacon and “mayple” syrup. The latte was a little less sweet than I expected, and it tasted a little of beetroot. It was a colorful pink. The cinnamon sprinkled on top complimented the beetroot’s earthy character. The waffles were great. Everything about them worked, and they were drenched in mayple syrup. They were so good.
The Time Tunnel consists of approximately six scenes. Four of those scenes are presented with video elements, set pieces, and manikins of some sort. The trackless vehicles take you from the volcanic explosions that created the Christchurch area to the animals that inhabited the island before the Maori arrived. It then hits the arrival of the Maori, and a rolling ship facing a storm brings the Europeans. The end shows some of the famous people from New Zealand. It ends too quickly, but overall, it was an interesting, if very abridged, introduction to New Zealand and Christchurch
The first thing you want to be aware of is that the Gondola Attraction Bus takes a lunch break. If you get down to the bottom of the hill at 12:15pm, you’ll miss the noon bus and have to wait until 1:30pm for the next one. We watched it drive off as we were stopped in the gondola waiting for others to board or waiting fro the wind to calm down. There is very little to do at the bottom of the hill unless you brought your lunch and want to eat it on the grass near the parking lot.
The second thing you need to watch for is the amount of wind that is forecast for the day. If it’s too windy, the gondola shuts down. Those at the top of the hill may be able to walk down. Those at the bottom of the hill will not be able to go up using the gondola. While we were told that high winds are unusual in Christchurch, the gondola was still shut down for a portion of time while we were there. We had already made it down, but there were people who came to the attraction and were told they would have to wait for an indeterminate amount of time for the ride up the mountain.
Christchurch Attractions runs several of the city’s tours, so getting a combo ticket might be your best bet. You just want to make sure that you leave time to do them all. The Christchurch Tram City Tour tram will take you around the inner city and deliver insights to the history and what you see on the way. They also offer a dinner tram with a fur course meal. The Botanic Gardens Tour takes you through the city gardens, and you can punt on the Avon! If you get all four attractions, it will include the ride out to the Gondola. Otherwise, it’s an additional $10 for a round trip to that attraction.