is a delightful Canadian seaside city, and no visit is complete without a trip to the urban Stanley Park. Its 405 hectares border downtown Vancouver and was opened in 1888. It's estimated 8 million locals and tourists go to the park every year for its natural beauty and recreational facilities. It's a year-round playground.
Much of the park is forested with around half a million trees, some reaching 76m tall. It's very grassy, has views across the ocean, and lakes are home to migrating geese. There is 200km of trails and roads, which are patrolled by Mounties.
Dermott Brereton was keen to give the 8.8km seawall path a go. It circles the park and is popular with pedestrians, cyclists and inline skaters. Cycling at your own pace lets you see so much and it's worth a stop at Brockton Point to see the eight wonderful totem poles. Each tells of the history of the Squamish people.
If you visit the park with children too young to cycle, there are plenty of things throughout the park to amuse them. There's a petting zoo, miniature railway and a hollow red cedar tree with a massive 12m girth. You could park a car in it! Second Beach pool is a heated, freshwater pool, 1.5m deep and the Variety Kids' Water Park is nearby.
Testament to the purity of the park's environment are bald eagle nests, otters, beavers, racoons, coyotes, squirrels, chipmunks and loads of ducks and other birds.
Lions Gate Bridge marks the halfway point around the park. The 1823 suspension bridge spans Burrard Inlet and was built thanks to the Guinness brewery family. They owned cheap land on the other side of the inlet but it was worthless as no-one could reach it. With the help of those who built San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, they built Lions Gate and sold it to the government and the once-worthless land to anyone who wanted it, adding to the Guinness fortune.
Vancouver Aquarium is a special place to visit. You can watch the beluga whale show and marvel at them swallowing buckets of whole fish. There are around 20,000 creatures to visit, and you can even sleep-over next to the beluga tank.
Teahouse in Stanley Park at Ferguson Point is one of the places to stop for a meal. Their menus change with the seasons and it's much more than a "stop for a snack" place. For seafood, try Fish House, also popular with locals. If it's a warm day, take your bathers and cool off with a dip at Third Beach, also at Ferguson Point.
If you love gardens, Stanley Park is a dream come true. There are enormous sloping beds of floral displays with mass plantings of perennials and annuals in summer and colourful bulb flowers welcoming spring. The Greig rhododendron garden is glorious and between June and October and late March and April you will be treated to 4000 rose bushes of more than 200 varieties in full, fragrant bloom.
Between the rose garden and forest is the Shakespeare Garden which pays homage to the Bard. The arboretum has trees mentioned in his plays and poems. Plaques display quotes from the appropriate works, so it's beautiful and educational.
Related info: An Insider's Guide to Vancouver
Stanley Park in Vancouver, Canada.
Bayshore Bicycle Rentals cost around $17 for adults and $14 for children for four hours. Helmets are required by law and are provided. They open from 9am until dusk year round.
Stanley Park Aquarium is open in summer between 9.30am and 7pm. It closes at 5pm in winter.
Air New Zealand has flights to Vancouver.
- Sydney $2161
- Gold Coast $2230
- Melbourne $2236
- Brisbane $2258
- Perth $2427
- Adelaide $2438
- Cairns $2442
Valid for travel between January 17 and June 16, 2011, and July 18 and December 9, 2011.
Prices correct at November 25, 2010.
For further information
Air New Zealand
Ph: 132 476
Vancouver, British Columbia
Ph: +1 604 257 8400
Bayshore Bicycle Rentals
745 Denman Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
Ph: +1 604 688 2453
Visas: Australians do not require a visa for stays of up to six months. Passports must be valid for the period of the intended stay.
Electricity: 110V at 60Hz using plugs with two vertical pins.
Time zone: British Columbia is GMT -8.
Currency: The Canadian dollar.
International dialling code: 1.