Christchurch, New Zealand – October 1999

Last month we followed President Bill Clinton while in Christchurch, so if it’s good enough for him its good enough for us too!!!!

International Antarctic Centre

Very few people have the opportunity to experience the awsome and magical beauty of Antarctica first hand.

At the Visitors Centre, their aim is to recreate the atmosphere of Antarctica and provide visitors with an interactive, fun and exciting experience of the ” Great White South”.

Address: Orchard Road

P.O. Box 14-001

Christchurch New Zealand

Ph: 64-3-35896 Fax: 64-3-3537799


Cracroft Reserve – Sign of the Takahe

Million dollar views with a Gothic backdrop…a lasting memorial to one man’s persistence and vision.

The name that looms largest of all when considering Cracroft Reserve is that of Harry (H.G.) Ell. Visionary, politician, prohibitionist, stubborn obsessive – all of these descriptions fit him well.

The Sign of the Takahe

Starting his battle to create a unique hillside chain of buildings and reserves in 1908, it was not until 1918 that the first stone was laid in what was to become the building known as The Sign of the Takahe. Originally intended to be a Dickensian inn, Ell eventually settled on a Gothic/Tudor baronial style after extensive research in the UK.

Through an extraordinary string of ups and downs, including financial disaster and Ell’s death in 1934, the building was not completed to its present state until 1948. A masterpiece of improvisation and economic necessity, materials and tools were salvaged and scrounged from all

over Canterbury. The stone was quarried from various sites along the Summit Road, some of the wood came from local sources of Kauri and Totara, and perhaps the best example, the huge kauri beams which span the lounge were salvaged from a former bridge across the Hurunui


The Sign of the Takahe is the major building of a series of buildings planned by Ell. The buildings, envisaged as a series of staging points along an unbroken route to the Akaroa Summit, include the Victoria Park stone rotunda, the Sign of the Kiwi, the Sign of the Bellbird (1914) and the Sign of the Packhorse (1916), a stone hut lying on Crown land to the south of Mt. Bradley.

A stainless steel plane table (completed in 1968 by Rotary) is situated on a stone plinth at a high point of the surrounding area. The skyline of the Southern Alps is engraved on the rim of the table and along with bearing lines, enables the sightseer to identify named peaks.

Takahe Map

The Harry Ell walking track commences approx. 800m up Dyers Pass Road from where the adjoining Cashmere and Bowenvale Reserves are accessible. You can reach the top of the Bridle Path (3.5 hrs) via the Crater Rim Walkway starting from this point.

Great Views


Panoramic views of mountains, city, plains and Pegasus Bay. On a very clear day, Aorangi (Mt. Cook) can be seen 230km to the south west as can Mt Tapuaenuku (200km to the north).

Sign of the Takahe Restaurant:

  • Devonshire Teas 10am-4:30pm daily

  • Business Luncheons Noon-2:00pm daily

  • Fully licensed A La Carte dining nightly (silver service)

  • Lounge Bar Facilities

  • Banquets, weddings, corporate functions

  • Historic building of national importance

    International food with specialties of lobster and game. Perched on the heights of the Cashmere Hills overlooking the city, this mock baronial castle evokes a Scottish highland lodge. Dinners are enhanced with candles, white-gloved servers with tartan waistcoats, and acres of starched white table linen. The menu also draws its inspiration from the Gothic, with a choice of main courses heavy on roast meats and on cream- and wine-based sauces. Dinners are popular with upscale tour groups.


    Dyers Pass and Hackthorne Roads

    Christchurch, New Zealand

    Telephone: +64 (3) 332-4052

    Wheelchair accessible

    Open Daily

    Reservations Required

    Useful Links

    Canterbury Tourism

    Kiwi Experience

    AA Guides

    Gateway to NZ



    – luxury suites


    Apartments – dorms to self contained units

    Want to have a good chat about Christchurch?

    My ICQ is: 12163770 or

    email me:

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