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Christchurch is one of the most relaxed places you're ever likely to visit. Its spacious pedestrian-only zones are typified by Cathedral Square, which is dominated by a Gothic kirk, while the streets are so slow-moving that they easily accommodate an antique tram that loops the city center on a one-and-a-quarter-mile track. The stress-free atmosphere is further enhanced by the accomplished restaurants on Oxford Terrace, lots of expansive parks and gardens, and a tiny watercourse (called the Avon River, no less) negotiated by rowboats and punts. To the city's southeast the landscape tilts upward towards Mt Cavendish, reached via a gentle ...

Christchurch is one of the most relaxed places you're ever likely to visit. Its spacious pedestrian-only zones are typified by Cathedral Square, which is dominated by a Gothic kirk, while the streets are so slow-moving that they easily accommodate an antique tram that loops the city center on a one-and-a-quarter-mile track. The stress-free atmosphere is further enhanced by the accomplished restaurants on Oxford Terrace, lots of expansive parks and gardens, and a tiny watercourse (called the Avon River, no less) negotiated by rowboats and punts. To the city's southeast the landscape tilts upward towards Mt Cavendish, reached via a gentle gondola ride from Heathcote Valley, and to the east is the breezy shoreline of Pegasus Bay. Christchurch's impressive cultural offerings include the Canterbury Museum, with its fantastic Maori Gallery, and the superb artworks arrayed inside the eye-catching Christchurch Art Gallery. When a bit of excitement is needed, check out the storm chamber in the excellent International Antarctic Center.

Paul Smitz
About the Expert

Paul Smitz has coauthored a dozen guidebooks for Lonely Planet on places such as Australia, New Zealand, Malaysian Borneo, Brunei, various Pacific Islands, Prague, and Brussels.

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Oceania, South Island of New Zealand and southeast of Australia
  • Language: English, Maori
  • Currency: New Zealand Dollar
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Receives minimal rainfall so reasonably nice year-round