This week I joined three very keen Welcome Aboard Grand Tour drivers, Ian, Ray and David on a trial run of the re-instated tour route starting on December 1. Much of the half-day tour is the original and very popular pre-earthquake event with the exception of the ride up the Port Hills Gondola cableway (hopefully re-opening after the New Year) and the heritage trams.

New restricted bus parking, especially at the Antigua boat sheds, presented challenges but all went smoothly. We strolled through the grounds of Mona Vale, enjoying the gracious river-side grounds and even spotted a female paradise duck sitting on her cute gaggle of ducklings.

We confirmed tour goers will  experience many Christchurch attractions including stunning views from the Port Hills along with glimpses of earthquake destructions of the past year. Sumner was, as usual, a very pleasant seaside coffee stop. Shopping in the recently-opened City Container Mall will be a concluding highlight.

For our team, however, the concluding highlight was a vehicle wash booth for a thorough, soapy,  scrub of the Welcome Aboard bus.

Back at the bus lock-up cleaning continued with the spanking vehicle emulating the  enthusiasm of the drivers to have their Grand Tour back on the road.