The journey between Christchurch and Dunedin is long but there is plenty to do en-route. The journey takes about 4 and a half hours but it is longer if you stop on the way. These are my Top 5 things to see between Christchurch and Dunedin.
Timaru is a great stopping off point between Christchurch and Dunedin. We ate in a nice cafe on Stafford Street – the only place open on a bank holiday. One of the points mentioned in the Rough Guide was Timaru Gardens. These botanical gardens are splendidly maintained, with a good few walks around a lake and tree lined hillocks. There are also some roses to be seen during the summer months and Timaru also has an annual rose festival. It is certainly worth stopping in Timaru for these gardens – great for stretching the legs en-route to Dunedin.
The Moeraki Boulders are located about 76km north of Dunedin. These huge spherical stones are located on a stretch of Koekohe Beach near Moeraki on New Zealand’s Otago coast. These large boulders are what are known as septarian concretions exposed through shore-line erosion. They originally formed as ancient sea-floor sediments during the early Paleocene, over 60 million years ago. They are amazing to see and worth visiting – best though if the tide is out!
Accommodation in Dunedin: 315 Euro Hotel, Dunedin
The drive between Christchurch and Dunedin is long so once you arrive in Dunedin, you may need accommodation. The 315 Euro Hotel is a nice hotel located up a laneway, so might be hard to find. The check-in was handled very well and we checked into a studio room which was nice, bright and airy. It included facilities such as hairdryer, tea coffee facilities, and a small kitchen area. There was lots of space in room and it had Sky TV which was nice. Other facilites in the complex included a sitting area just inside the main doors and a laundry (handy when travelling). The only negative is that the curtains in the room could be a bit thicker!
Monarch Wildlife Cruises – Peninsula Cruise
On the drive between Christchurch and Dunedin you will see lots of birds and wildlife. One of the best ways to see of the Otago Peninsula and it’s wildlife is by taking a cruise on the Otago Harbour. We went with Monarch Cruises – located on the wharf just behind the chinese Gardens in Dunedin. This Wildlife Cruise includes the spectacular Taiaroa Head and a scenic Otago Peninsula bus tour. You should also pay the extra few dollars for the guided tour of the award-winning Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve, Penguin Place. Worth Doing !
Link : http://www.wildlife.co.nz/
Chinese Gardens Dunedin
The Chinese Gardens in Dunedin are of an authentic Chinese design and was built by the Dunedin Chinese Garden Trust has built the Garden and upon its completion, handed over to Dunedin City Council. The Garden is an example of a late Ming, early Ching Dynasty Scholar’s Garden, surrounded by a four metre perimeter wall and features a lake with traditional walkways and stonework. The design of the Chinese Garden was laid out to use authentic Chinese materials and was built by a team of craftsmen from Shanghai. Hand-made wooden buildings, hand-made tiles, lattice-work and hand-finished granite paving stones adorn these authentic exquisite gardens. The Chinese Gardens are open from 10 am to 5 pm, 7 days per week and 7pm to 9pm on Wednesdays.
Link : http://www.dunedinchinesegarden.com/
The Beautiful Timaru Gardens between Christchurch and Dunedin
Hotel Prices in Ireland have often been a lot higher than other countries. However, a recent report on Hotel prices has found that Ireland now has the cheapest hotel rooms in all of western Europe. The Hotel Price Index, compiled by hotel booking website Hotels.com, found that while worldwide hotel prices have now stabilised in the first 6 months of 2010. Hotel Prices in Ireland are dropping as room rates have continue to fall.
The average Irish room rate is €79 a night, down 4% from hotel room rates of 2009. The Irish room rate of €79 is the cheapest in western Europe and the 4th cheapest in the EuroZone – ahead of only the Czech Republic, Poland & Hungary. Switzerland is now Europe’s most expensive destination for hotels with an average of €138. Iceland recorded the biggest fall of 20%. It will be interesting to see if Hotel Prices in Ireland increase when the recession is over.
Some of the best value to be seen on hotel rooms is in offers such as 3 nights for the price of 2. For example some great offers can be had from Mount Juliet Estate Hotel Kilkenny.
Modern and Impressive Hotel in Cavan with excellent service and great restaurants.
Having won a trip to the Cavan Crystal Hotel on Pigsback, I was dreading such a long trip. It took over 5 hours (including a stop off for lunch) to get to the hotel. When we arrived the girl on reception, Orlaith, actually remembered speaking to me on the phone earlier (very impressed with service at the hotel in general).
The hotel foyer is bright and nicely decorated in modern clean designs.
The rooms are large with bigger than standard bathrooms, fruit basket and robes were in the room (not sure if these were standard) but overall the room was very nice. Newspapers were left outside your door next morning and a turndown service was provided around 7pm which was not availed of. (nice touch though)
The Opus One restaurant has a wide selection of quality dishes, from duck and venison to seabass and vegetarian options. The starter and main courses were excellent with 2 small complementary intermediate offerings between starter and main and also main and dessert.
One criticism however, the menu does not change, so if you are staying here for more than one night you may run out of options. We only ate here once as a result.
The leisure centre and gym is good, with a large pool, sauna, jacuzzi, and steam room – however it can get crowded at times (especially if there are lots of children). However there is very little privacy from the gents dressing area and when the pool door opens, make sure you are not getting changed nearby otherwise … oops!
There is a Spa but strangely this is not open on Sundays, probably the main day people will be relaxing and will avail of such a service.
Pros: Great service, great food, attentive staff and nice rooms
Cons: Evening Menu in Restaurant does not change, Spa not open on Sundays, Bar area can lack a bit of atmosphere.
Overall : 8½/10
Cavan Crystal Hotel, Cavan, Ireland
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Cavan Crystal Hotel