Opening Times: 7 days; 9am-5.30pm summer; 9am-5pm winter
Charges: Free; Discovery Centre NZ$2
I am not big on museums but I enjoyed this one because of its size and variety of displays. You can see the major exhibits in one hour then spend much longer if you have special interests.
The main exhibitions are on two levels and there is a natural route through them. You start with several Maori galleries then move through to an interesting transport gallery. I was very impressed with the recreated Christchurch Street from the Victorian era. It was a great way of displaying both the architecture and the artifacts from this era. Top marks!
The Antarctic Gallery on the upper floor is also very interesting. You come face to face (literally) with many of the heroes and artifacts of Antarctic discovery and exploration. They were certainly tough characters! Also on this floor is the bird hall with many New Zealand birds on display. If you are planning to visit the albatross or penguin colonies later in your New Zealand tour, this is a ‘must’. Time did not permit us to visit the discovery gallery but a quick peak showed us that kids would just love this.
The museum has a café, up one further flight of steps, that opens for coffee, snacks and lunch. It overlooks the Botanic Gardens and has a nice atmosphere. The ground floor shop has some excellent publications and a range of locally crafted art, jewellery, crafts and gifts.
You can reach the museum by taking the fun trip on the restored Christchurch Tramway. We went by rental car and discovered there was 120-minute free kerb-side parking available close to the museum. What a bonus!