I hadn’t been to the South Island before so was keen to find a hotel that was central as we had only one night in Christchurch before embarking on our amazing tour of the land of the long white cloud – it was pointed out to me that the Novotel was one of the few buildings that had not suffered damage in the earthquake so I took that as a good omen!
We arrived in the late afternoon on a bright clear day to be greeted by a warm welcoming receptionist. Our room was well appointed with a lovely view of Cathedral Square – the devastation of the earthquake still very much evident in the foreground with the beautiful Cathedral crushed and braced against the elements.
We joined our friends who were to travel with us and made a beeline for the botanic gardens – I live in Queensland in the subtropics so was delighted to find myself in the throws of Autumn in the soft light of sunset. The gardens are just stunning, I can understand how Christchurch came to be known as a garden city. I could hardly bear to leave the rose garden with its blowsy scented blooms, the backdrop for an adjoining wedding party. We spotted a cosy looking bar on the way back from the Gardens, opposite the very striking, and modern Art Gallery which we were sadly unable to visit, but we stopped into Fiddlesticks with its warm cosy bar and propped ourselves in the corner to chat and compare notes on our itinerary. The snack menu was most inviting, but we limited our selection to a rather delicious terrine to match our shiraz and made the decision to dine in the Novotel’s restaurant, whose menu we had briefly perused before our walk.
It was a great decision. The restaurant has a bank of windows lining the Square, we were ushered to an end table overlooking the Cathedral and quickly settled in to enjoy a sumptuous feast of seafood chowder, mussels and scallops. The mains were equally well received and we all drooled over dessert and devoured the shared chocolate plate with unseemly gusto! The staff were simply delightful, we certainly started our journey through the South Island on a high note. The Novotel is well located for pedestrian access in the centre of town, but getting to it by car for strangers can be a challenge with many of the roads now one way – you may want to study a map or get a GPS before embarking on your own road trip!