The lively and creative ‘garden city’ is the gateway to the spectacular South Island of New Zealand.
Christchurch sits on the central east coast of New Zealand’s South Island. It is bordered by the Port Hills and Lyttleton Harbour to the south, the beaches of Pegasus Bay to the east, and the sprawling Canterbury Plains to the west. It is the South Island’s largest city and, with an international airport, is a gateway to all that it has to offer.
Christchurch was founded in the 1850s as a settlement of the Church of England. It is today often described as New Zealand’s most English city.
The city is built around beautiful parks and gardens, and is dissected by the River Avon, which meanders through the city. The city centres on Cathedral Square, home of the impressive Christ Church Cathedral. Many of the city’s top sights are within walking distance of the Square. A pleasant alternative is to catch an historic tram, which regularly circuits the centre. Christchurch is renowned for its innovative and individualistic residents, such as the famed Wizard who addresses the lunchtime crowds of Cathedral Square. The city also has a strong creative element, and the local arts and crafts can be experienced at the Arts Centre and its weekend markets.
A short drive from the city centre is the lovely seaside resort of Sumner, which has a sandy beach and a selection of cafes and restaurants. A drive over the Port Hills to the south of Sumner offers spectacular views of the city and Canterbury Plains, to the Southern Alps beyond. Lyttleton, on the southern side of the Port Hills, is a picturesque little town perched on the hills above Lyttleton Harbour. It was here that the Canterbury Pilgrims landed in 1850 and is today one of New Zealand’s busiest ports. Further a field, the stunning Banks Peninsula and its picturesque town of Akaroa are a worthwhile excursion from the city.