Christchurch is New Zealand's third largest city. City Map It's about halfway down the South Island on the east coast. Most of Christchurch is very flat (as it's mainly built on the Canterbury Plains) although there are some (nice) suburbs of the city which are on the lower slopes of the hills of Banks Peninsula. Ch-Ch (this is the normal abbreviation of the name) has an international airport and a harbor (Lyttleton). Ch-Ch's official slogan is "the Garden City: the City that Shines" which is a bit pretentious. There's not necessarily more greenery in Ch-Ch than in any other NZ city, but it tends to be a bit more formal and cared for: i.e. people take pride in their gardens.
Cathedral Square is a pleasant open area where tourists and locals can mingle, with plenty of good shopping and restaurants within close walking distance. People might do their supermarket shopping out in the suburbs, but the center of Christchurch is still vibrant and a place that people like to go, unlike the empty core of New Zealand's largest city, Auckland. The Cathedral has it's own website.
The inner city of Christchurch is a special place with many different things to see and do for locals and visitors alike. The best way to experience the magic of the central city, is from onboard these beautifully restored trams.
The 2.5 kilometer track takes about 25 minutes to complete and allows you to take in many of the "must see" attractions. These include Cathedral Square, Aquarium of Discovery, Arts Centre, Art Gallery, Botanical Gardens, Canterbury Museum, Punting on the Avon, New Regent Street and Cathedral Junction to name just a few.
Overall Impression: Another jewel.. fun walking the city, the trams are neat-clean and show the city nicely! One could spend many days in this lovely setting and enjoy side trips to the country.
Punting through the botanical gardens was a wonder experience. If you feel like being pampered, what better way than to recline in a punt and be guided along the tranquil waters of the river Avon by trained boatmen? Watch the lazy willows, ducks and beautiful garden sites as you float along. You can leave from the Christchurch Visitor's Centre in the central city and stop off at cafes or restaurants along the way. You may even choose to picnic in the gardens. Hire your own boat and paddle yourself if you prefer—there are several options.
The grounds of the Botanic Gardens encompass an area of 30 hectares (74 acres), the majority of this being within a loop of the Avon River. Until 1863, the Gardens were largely natural wetlands and sand dunes. Since this time, they have been transformed into a place of beauty with undoubtedly one of the finest collections of exotic and indigenous plants to be found anywhere in New Zealand. There are numerous large majestic trees, many of which are in excess of 120 years, and form a majestic background to the numerous plant collections and sweeping lawns.
Christchurch is a wonderful place. Possibly the best all round place in New Zealand to live (that should set some teeth on edge). The population is about 300 000, maximum summer temperatures are in the low 30's and minimum winter temperatures of 0 to -5. Mean day time high temperatures would be more like 24 and 8 at a guess. Rainfall is about 700mm/year but that does vary considerably depending on where you live around Christchurch. Rainfall in the Halswell, Tai Tapu, Lincoln area tends to be slightly higher because of the way Southerly winds hit the hills just to the east of the city.
Christchurch was founded in about 1850. The older part of the city is laid out on a grid system bounded by four avenues. A combination of roads running diagonally and parallel to these take you out to the suburbs which started as separate villages and have now grown together.
There are many parks in the city, including one very large one. The city council make good use of these in the summer with organized events, music, fairs etc. Many also double as both summer and winter sports grounds. The central city is currently enjoying something of a revival with cafes, bars, and night clubs of all types springing up all over the place. Probably not as many as Auckland or Wellington in total, but more of them in an accessible area.
On to the Crystal Harmony for a quick trip to Dunedin. The name is the Gaelic form of Edinburgh, and, in fact, the Scottish migrants who settled the area in the mid-19th century had planned to call the place New Edinburgh.