Christchurch with its 310.000 inhabitants, is the largest city on South Island. The city is set in the heart of the Canterbury region, one of the flattest zones in New Zealand. Large, orderly and well kept, Christchurch, with its architecture and typically Anglo-Saxon landscape, is considered the most English of cities outside the British Isles. The picturesque river Avon runs through the city, which is centred around the Gothic Canterbury Cathedral. Christchurch, dubbed the “Garden City” is rich in splendid open spaces, gardens and numerous parks, which render the city highly attractive. The peaceful suburbs of Fendalton, Avonhead and Burnside, are characterised by their large expanses of geraniums, chrysanthemums and manicured lawns. Hagley Park, the natural lungs of the city, stretches over an area of 161 hectares. The popular Garden City Festival of Flowers is held every February in Christchurch, when the city is immersed in flowers and explodes with colour and scents. The reputation of the Garden City, is perfectly represented by the Botanic Gardens, undoubtedly the finest collection of indigenous and exotic plants in all of New Zealand. This unique spectacle is open all year round from 7am to 1 hour before sunset.
The city is flat and has been built to a regular, uniform plan. It is therefore relatively easy to travel around on foot, even if the city’s main street often meets the meandering river Avon, which winds its way directly through Christchurch. Cathedral Square is the fulcrum of the city and the ideal departure point for a city tour. The cathedral is a Gothic building with a 63 metre high spire, that soars above the square and from whose panoramic balconies, it is possible to enjoy a splendid view of the city. Every week day at one pm, the square is the site of the apparition of the” Wizard of Christchurch”, an eccentric character, dressed as a wizard, who harangues the crowds on varied subjects.
Colombo Street, the city’s main street, dissects Cathedral Square from north to south, however the more inviting strolls are to be had along the banks of the river Avon. Here it is possible to observe the strange flat bottomed boats (punts) which are propelled elegantly and silently, using a long pole pushed deep into the water. The river bank is also the site of Mona Vale, an elegant colonial house in Elizabethan style, complete with 5.5 hectares of gardens, rich in lakes and fountains. Christchurch also possesses the oldest casino in New Zealand. Open 24 hours a day, it is situated on the corner of Victoria and Kilmore Street.
Buses provide the best means of getting around the city. The major routes are operated by Canride and leave from Cathedral Square. Fares vary depending upon the number of stops. The Shuttle is a free service which serves approximately 20 stops within the city centre, with departures every 10 minutes during the week between 8am and 7pm (until 9:30 pm Friday and Saturday and until 6pm on Sunday). City Circuits operates two routes which depart from Worcester St. and Oxford Terrace and call at the city’s tourist sights.
Hotels and lodgingEdit
Christchurch is also an important cultural centre and is the site of many interesting museums. The Canterbury Museum, situated in Rolleston Avenue, houses important sections on Maori civilisation, natural history( with a large stuffed bird display), an exhibition dedicated to the first European colonists and an interesting display regarding the exploration of Antarctica. The museum is open every day from 9am to 5:30 pm. The city's new Art Gallery is situated on the corner of Worcester Boulevard and Montreal St, close to the Canterbury Museum. The building, open from 10am to 5:00pm, houses a vast collection of works of art by New Zealand and international artists.
The Arts Centre, a complex consisting of numerous old Gothic buildings, was once the seat of Canterbury University and is now one of the major cultural tourist attractions of the city.
The centre, dedicated to arts and crafts, is a lively place, frequented by craftsmen, musicians and street artists of all kinds. The complex houses numerous shops and workshops where craftsmen produce and sell a variety of products, including Maori pottery, cloth and jewellery. Although the Arts Centre is open 7 days, many of the craft stalls are open on Saturdays and Sundays only. In addition the centre is also home to cinemas, theatres, musical concerts, bars and restaurants.
Maps and transportationEdit
Getting to ChristchurchEdit
Banks Peninsula, situated a short distance from Christchurch, is the site for many interesting excursions. This hilly peninsula, of volcanic origin, has a furrowed coastline with deep inlets and natural harbours, which radiate outwards from the centre, creating the image of a cogged- wheel. The most important town of the peninsula is Akaroa, a small historic town, which occupies the original site of the first French settlement in New Zealand. Akaroa, situated 82 km from Christchurch, recreates perfectly the atmosphere of a small French town, so much so that even the streets and houses, have maintained their original French names. The town is wonderful and strolling along the streets is a delightful experience.
Mountain and winter sport lovers can head towards Arthur’s Pass, west of Christchurch. This 923 metre-high mountain pass, west of Christchurch, was discovered during the gold rush period,. The Arthur’s Pass National Park offers the possibility to undertake interesting hikes of varying lengths and difficulty. All of which offer an all-round view of the surrounding peaks, the highest being Mt Murchison at 2,400 metres.
Practical information and resourcesEdit
Currency : NZ$
Electric supply: 230 V., 50 Hz., the Australian round, three pinned plug is used.
Climate : Like many areas in New Zealand, Christchurch is particularly windy. The summer temperatures vary from a maximum of 22 °C. to a minimum of 12 °C., while in winter the maximum is 11 °C and the minimum 4 °C.
Language : English, Maori
Opening hours : offices are open from Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 5 pm. Shops are open from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5:30 pm., and Saturday morning from 9 am to 1 pm. Once a week there is late night shopping (Thursday in the suburbs and Friday in the centre) until 9 pm.
Telephones : The national code for Christchurch is 03.
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