CHRISTCHURCH - CANTERBURY
Canterbury stretches from ocean to the Alps, and is land of plains and peaks.
It is a place of variety and innumerable attractions. Located in the middle of the South Island, Canterbury is easily accessible by air, land and sea. Within two hours of an international airport, you can ski, play golf, bungy jump, go white-water rafting, mountain biking, wind surfing, whale watching, and visit world-class vineyards and gardens.
A must-see is New Zealand’s highest peak, Aoraki Mount Cook. Go hiking in Arthur’s Pass National Park or just wander around the picturesque bays and villages of Banks Peninsula. And then there’s New Zealand's second-largest city Christchurch, known as ‘The Garden City', which around 340,000 people call home.
Christchurch is interwoven by two rivers linking parks, gardens and avenues. Bordered by the Port Hills and the Pacific Ocean, it is situated on the Canterbury Plains with the Southern Alps as a majestic backdrop. The award-winning Christchurch Botanic Gardens feature one of the finest collections of exotic and native plants found in New Zealand,
Christchurch is in recovery following a series of earthquakes from September 4, 2010. The most damaging earthquake was on February 22, 2011; when 185 people lost their lives. Much of the central city with its classic neo-gothic architecture was destroyed. But it remains a beautiful city, a city where you can cycle alongside the river, stay in good hotels and indulge in fine sophisticated dining, and a city where, just 15 minutes from the centre you can scramble up mountain bike tracks or ride a wave at a surf beach.
The buildings may have been damaged but the soul of the city and the welcoming spirit of the people remain very much intact. Innovative shops and businesses are springing up as the city rebuilds. Bringing retail back to the centre of town is New Zealand's first pop-up mall Re:START. The mall has established itself in the old city mall with boutique fashion outlets, great food and coffee, and creative architecture.
You can explore the city by foot, on an open top bus, tram or even relax in a punt as you float down the Avon River. Experience polar life at the International Antarctic Centre, see the rare kiwi at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, dive into aviation history at the Air Force Museum or visit Orana Wildlife Park, New Zealand’s only open range zoo.
Christchurch is also a city that embraces festivity, with a continuous stream of events and festivals throughout the year, including the Christchurch Arts Festival, New Zealand Cup and Show Week, the World Buskers Festival, the Lyttelton Festival of Lights, the Ellerslie International Flower Show and the Antarctic Festival - each celebrating particular aspects of Christchurch's unique character.
Christchurch contains one of the two main international airports for the country, and is connected via a tunnel to a seaport at Lyttelton on Bank's Peninsula. It is the Gateway to the South Island and is the perfect place to launch your New Zealand holiday.