Christchurch, Family, Mental health, mothering, Outdoor play, Preschoolers, Traditions

The Gift Experience That Keeps on Giving: A Tram and Gondola Pass

For the last couple of years my husband has gotten a Christchurch Tram and Gondola annual pass for Fathers’ Day. The first one was a surprise from me, but then in subsequent years it’s been a family choice that we’ve made. Gifting him an experience that he can enjoy and have quality time with our kids is just perfect.

The Tram and Gondola pass is $65 which I think is pretty reasonable for a Fathers’ Day gift that actually gets used! It allows the user to have unlimited rides on both the tram and gondola for the entire year – pretty good value if you ask me!

After seeing how much fun my husband had with the kids the first year, we ended up buying a pass for me too, and then in subsequent years we’ve purchased a family pass. Children under 5 are free and you can take up to three school age children together on your family pass.

I know $139 (for a family pass) might be a lot of money for some families to spend on Fathers’ Day (or even just $65 for one annual pass for Dad) but it’s seriously good value.

Here’s why I rate it:

Gondola:

  • The gondola is a magical way to access the port hills. We often exit straight to the tussocky hill tops. There, we have a fun game of “find the five year old”, rock hopping, and just generally explore around the hills. A walk down the hill will take you to some old gun emplacements; a cool place to explore with kiddos (take your baby carrier and watch out for stinging nettle).
  • We use our pass year round, even in the middle of winter. In fact, if you can manage a late afternoon gondola ride, winter is the absolute best time to catch a sunset from up the top.Dress up warm (compulsory!) and head up at around 4pm. You can start getting the amazing sunset views from about 4.30pm in the middle of winter. Snap some pics and catch a ride down (last ride down is at 5.30pm).Head on home for dinner that you’ve organised earlier on… orrrrr just grab takeaways on the way home after getting stuck in rush hour traffic (noooo, that never happened to me).
  • Get your Vitamin D: Those still blue winter mornings that Canterbury is famous for are a gorgeous time to head up the gondola. In the middle of winter here in Christchurch we get 6 hours less daylight than in summer! It can be harder to get outside in the sun and get the good Vitamin D exposure that we need. Vitamin D is important for strong healthy bones (1), and it’s also thought to play a role in mood stabilisation (2). Soak up some of those weak winter sun rays and get your Vitamin D dose for the day. You’ll feel on top of the world! Well, on top of the port hills at least.
  • Take your friends and family up. The gondola is our “go-to” activity for when we have family from out of town visiting. Treat them to a hot drink at the cafe up the top! Because our kids are preschoolers, school age nieces and nephews can come up with us on our family pass. Pretty good!
  • Take the kids for a gondola joy ride. I have been known to jump on the gondola and not even get out at the top… just take the kids on a joy ride round trip!I did this a few times when I was heavily pregnant and having a hard day of kids not napping at home… the excitement of a gondola ride was enough for a 2 year old and 3 year old boy to sit and enjoy it, and I got a bit of a break to sit down (relief!). I had really bad pelvis pain during my last pregnancy and the thought of chasing kids around on the hills at the top was just too much. So a round trip of sitting in the gondola filled in an afternoon just perfectly. Finish off your trip with a drive through the Lyttelton Tunnel…. always exciting for young kids.

    The Time Tunnel:

    The absolute HIGHLIGHT of our gondola and tram pass is the Time Tunnel up the top of the gondola. Underneath the cafe, dug into the ground, there’s a hidden treasure…. it’s like a BONUS ride on top of your gondola ride. I had NO IDEA that the time tunnel existed before getting our annual passes.

    img_1099

    The Time Tunnel is a 7 minute ride where you sit in little cars and are taken through the history of Banks Peninsula. It’s a full 3D experience, with surround sound and amazing artistic setups. Your little car is guided on a circuit through fiery volcanic eruptions, forests of bird song, early Maori settlements, Europeans emigrating by sea, early establishment of Christchurch city, and it finishes up with some famous Cantabrians – including the sound of Hayley Westenra’s voice which always brings tears to my eyes! It’s pretty exciting for kids and is an absolute highlight for us in our Gondola trip.

Tram:

  • There’s so much to do and see in the CBD. Having our tram pass means that we visit the CBD quite frequently. We usually tie in a visit to The Imagination Station or the eels along the Terrace, or Margaret Mahy park or the new East Frame Green Zone. It gets us in and exploring.

    Checking out the CBD wall art together.
  • Get an update on the CBD rebuild. The tram ride is a really excellent way to keep up to date with what’s going on with our city’s rebuild. The drivers give a guided tour as the tram goes around, so you’ll be right up to date with what’s being built where – like our new library opening up (so excited about this!).
  • Get some Mama “alone time”. If I’ve been craving some alone time on the weekends my husband has often taken the kids on the tram by himself. I know he could’ve just taken them to the park, but for some reason having a “thing” to do with the kids makes it much more appealing for him! The good coffee in the CBD helps of course.

    My husband and his bro hanging with kids on the tram.

Thinking about this blog post, we tried to figure out how many times we’ve used our annual passes. Turns out it’s too many to count! See what I mean about great value?

You can check out their website and buy your passes online here: Christchurch Tram and Gondola Annual Pass

And let me know what you think! Are you already an Annual Pass holder? Hope you love it as much as we do.

Enjoy your special day with your families, Dads, whatever you do for Fathers’ Day.

Rachel.

References:

(1) https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/healthy-living/food-activity-and-sleep/healthy-eating/vitamin-d

(2) https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-breakthrough-depression-solution/201111/psychological-consequences-vitamin-d-deficiency

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