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Christchurch  (Pop 349,000)

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Christchurch is the biggest city on the South island and also the most "English" city in new Zealand. It is a nice city, almost completely flat with big buildings only in the city centre. The suburbs are constituted mostly houses and some blocks with no more than 6 units. Christchurch is well connected with some public buses and a tram that surrounds downtown. To the other cities of South Island, Christchurch is connected by intercity buses and also by train. The International airport has its own custom and immigration with direct flights arriving and departure to and from many countries such as Asia, Japan and Australia. Christchurch faces the sea and on the backside of the city there is a plain that goes up to the alps. This area is called  Canterbury and it is used mostly for farming and cattle, sheep, or deer stations. Both together (Christchurch + Canterbury) have today almost half a million inhabitants and they present to any tourist a fascinating landscape of beauty and natural wonders.

Note: In September 2010 and February 2011 earthquakes, including one with a magnitude of 7.1  partially destroyed the city and the cathedral.

Christchurch has a wizard and with luck you can meet him on the Cathedral Square, right in downtown. The cathedral built in gothic style is one the most important attraction of the city. It is open for public visitation and probably you are going to exit by the back door in a corridor or souvenir shops. Around the cathedral there are also many more souvenir shops, but also very nice Cafes, Restaurants and Hotels. Just on the street beside the cathedral, a Tram does a round trip of  2,5 Km passing very interesting and old constructions and some tourist places. a few blocks away, the enchanted tourist will find  Kilmore and Durham Streets, where the convention centre is and also more Cafes, Restaurants and Hotels. Christchurch's Botanic Garden is another no miss place to see, which is considered one of the most beautiful in New Zealand. On the Avon River that contours the green area, you can go for a romantic river cruise in a gondola, surrounded by beautiful trees with an European charm. Christchurch has its economy based on the primary industry such as milking and farming but also has been accomplishing great results in Information Technology, Tourism, and high tech industries. When choosing between English style constructions to visit, we can suggest the interior of the Art Centre which is too beautiful to describe and worth a visit. To have an eagle eye vision of Christchurch we recommend go up by cable car to the Mount Cavendish where from the top and if the weather cooperates you will have a panoramic view of the whole region. Night life in Christchurch is a bright one, with lots of good restaurants, night clubs and pubs. For Surfers, Christchurch has some nice waves, but don't forget to bring a reliable wetsuit cos the water is freezing. If you feel like a penguin, don't worry, Christchurch has plenty of indoor activities for all tastes and pockets including a Casino.

The Canterbury Plains is divided by farms and small towns. As you can see on the photo, it is flat and comprehends the area from Christchurch to the Alps. For sure the best way to see this area is from air, even better if from a hot air balloon. There are also small planes of chopper flights from Christchurch of from towns nearby the alps. If by air becomes out of the budget for you, we recommend see it by car. There are some good roads from Christchurch to the alps (during winter time a check with transport department is a must to see if the roads are open or not) and one of the best in our opinion is the one that crosses the Arthur Pass, in direction to Greymouth. The road climbs up to 2751 meters with fantastic panoramic views in a good day. Even during summer don't forget a coat and something warm, because alpine weather changes more than models trying dresses before a fashion event. Anyway, if you like to walk, from the town of Arthur Pass there are fantastic tracks for all fitness. From a couple of hours to overnight, but don't forget to check the weather for snow storms and temperatures. From Christchurch also you can drive to the town of Mount Cook, another fantastic day-trip that passes by breathtaking lakes. With luck, you will be able to see the biggest mountain in New Zealand right in front of you.

If not by car the Tranz Alpine Train is considered one of the best train journeys in the world. The train leaves from Christchurch station and crosses the alps to the west cost of New Zealand's South island, until the town of Greymonth. We did this trip twice and we can't stop recommending it. First at all it is imperative to choose a beautiful blue day to do it. The best time in our opinion is from September and beginning of December, because there are still a lot of snow on the top and with summer approaching, the snow starts to melt, creating hundreds of waterfalls along the way. During Summer it is still nice to do this trip (see photo) but not with the glamour of the time explained above. The train crosses the Canterbury Plains and climbs the alps going between valleys with views capable of making a kiwi bird cry. The river can be seen from the top while you pass many tunnels with the rails right beside the abysm. There is a semi open wagon just for photos, but the maximum time I could hold over there was about 5 minutes (I am not a penguin yet). This tour can be made in one day, or if you wish, from Greymout, you can connect by bus to see the Glaciers Fox and Franz Joseph.

Curiosities 1: The Mount Cook (photo) with 3754 metres is the highest mountain in new Zealand. In this same Alp there are 27 other peaks higher than 3000 metres.

Curiosities 2: Mount Hutt  - Is a Ski Field only 1 hour and fifteen minutes by road from Christchurch. It has the longest ski season in New Zealand reaching around 6 months of good snow per year. 

Study  in Christchurch

Tourist Attractions in Christchurch

Distances by road from Christchurch to:

Picton 185 km 2 hours & 30 min.
Queenstown 480 km 7 hours & 15 min
Dunedin 364 km 5 hours
Greymouth 255 km  4 hours & 10 min
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