One of New Zealand’s largest cities and the gateway to the South Island, Christchurch is known as the “Garden City” for good reason. Its parks and gardens, including the expansive Hagley Park and Mona Vale on the banks of the River Avon, are a point of pride for locals.
The city has transformed itself following the 2011 earthquake, when much of the center and its classical neo-Gothic architecture was destroyed. Old buildings are being rebuilt and repaired and new complexes are cropping up. Visitors will find an ever-changing city with an innovative edge as residents make the most of the opportunities presented following the disaster. Look out for plenty of new restaurants, cafés and boutiques to explore.
It’s easy to get around Christchurch by tram, ferry and bicycle, or on foot. Cycle along the riverbank, enjoy an array of shopping and dining options and take a stroll around lively markets. Christchurch Farmers' Market is on each Saturday and offers local produce and great coffee. In summer, cool off at the beautiful New Brighton beach nearby or take a trip to scenic Lyttelton Harbour.
The city comes alive with color twice a year when it hosts two popular festivals. The annual Festival of Flowers is held in February and the Ellerslie International Flower Show is every March.
Christchurch is popular with adventure seekers looking to explore the surrounding countryside. It’s one of a few cities in the world where just 15 minutes from downtown you can hike up mountain trails or surf a wave at the beach. Other activities offered close to Christchurch include hot air ballooning, mountain biking, rafting and whale watching. There are several internationally acclaimed wineries nearby, as well as a world-class ski resort. Book tours and rent a car and equipment in town, then grab a map and hit the highway.