Lighting Up © Jocelyn Kinghorn
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
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 devastated by a major earthquake in
February 2011, and some of the damage is still evident, but the
city has rapidly risen from the rubble and now frequently graces
lists of the top cities to visit in the world. The nightlife and
restaurant scene has bounced back impressively, with close to 1,000
cafes, bars, and restaurants currently operating in the city. Some
tourist attractions and hospitality businesses have not reopened
after the earthquake, but others have sprung up to replace
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 New Zealand's
cities and plenty of sunshine, it is a perfect base for a diverse
range of activities, including a Canterbury skiing experience.
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