The largest city on South Island, Christchurch is the most
English of New Zealand's cities, named after an Oxford college. The
atmosphere is reminiscent of an English university town, with
school boys in striped blazers and punting on the River Avon, a
grand Anglican cathedral dominating the central square, little
stone-walled bridges, elegant Victorian architecture and numerous
parks and exquisite gardens.
Dubbed the 'Garden City', it is the lively capital of the
Canterbury region, priding itself on its green areas, arts and
history as well as its sports. The surrounds offer beach suburbs,
protected bays and dolphin swimming, green valleys and snow-capped
mountain ranges for skiing, hiking, mountain biking and climbing.
The city itself has a relaxed and cosmopolitan centre with historic
trams rattling along the streets of the bustling downtown area, a
lively pub and restaurant scene, theatres, street buskers, museums
and art galleries.
Christchurch was heavily damaged by a major earthquake in early
2011, and some of the damage is still evident, with several major
tourist attractions closed for repairs, though most of the city is
functioning normally. Christchurch is the gateway to the South
Island and offers the visitor an appealing mixture of historic
charm and vibrant city life, a pleasing balance between urban
pursuits and outdoor activities. With the least rainfall of any of
the other cities and plenty of sunshine it is a perfect base for a