Meet Maoris and see Kiwis in New Zealand’s Garden City
Located on the East Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, Christchurch is an Antipodean city with a very British feel. Unlike British cities, however, it enjoys 2,120 hours of sunshine a year! It’s a pleasantly multicultural city, with Maori people- the indigenous inhabitants- and Asian people each making up around 8% of the total population of 370,000. Christchurch has one of the cleanest water supplies in the world and an eighth of its area is preserved as parkland. The city has 3 beaches, lapped by the South Pacific Ocean. There is a huge variety of activities for the visitor to enjoy, from dolphin-watching to hot-air ballooning to rock-climbing. Christchurch presents itself beautifully to visitors, principally through the neo-gothic Arts Centre, the ultra-modern art gallery and the Canterbury Museum, with its 2 million items depicting New Zealand’s Maori heritage, the arrival of the Europeans and the country’s links with the Antarctic.
New Zealanders tend to be easygoing people who like to distinguish themselves from their allegedly brasher Australian neighbours! Modern New Zealand was built on sheep-farming; the people’s traditional rural hospitality, blended with an efficient tourist industry, may well win your heart - whether you go for the snow or for the sun.
When to go?
Christchurch has a dry, temperate climate, with temperatures rising to 23°C in January and sinking to 11°C in July. During the Winter, try the ski-fields in New Zealand’s Southern Alps, or stay in the city for the Film Festival in July/August. Note that Winter also brings some unpleasant smog to the city. In the Summer, catch the awesome Garden City Summer Times Festival, including New Year celebrations, a Kite Day and the World Buskers’ Festival.
How to get there?
Christchurch International Airport (CHC) is a 30-minute bus-ride from the centre of town. It serves Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, most New Zealand cities, Bangkok, Dubai and Singapore; it even has flights to McMurdo Station in the Antarctic! Christchurch is quite flat, so why not bike around? There’s also a city centre Brill Tram and a bus service to get you around town; how about a ride on the zero-fare hybrid, environmentally friendly Shuttle?
Unsurprisingly, the city’s centerpiece is Christ Church, the Anglican Cathedral; its Roman Catholic counterpart, the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, is regarded as the finest renaissance-style building in all Australasia. Enjoy 120-year-old trees in the Botanic Gardens by the River Avon or check out the Airforce Museum. Take a ride on an All-Terrain Vehicle at the International Antarctic Centre. If you want to go higher, take a ride on the Christchurch Gondola, perched on the crater rim of an extinct volcano, 445m above the city!