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People walking along river at a park in Christchurch New Zealand

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Christchurch - A Kiwi City with British Charm

Christchurch is one of the world’s most unique destinations, combining innovation with heritage and culture with exhilarating activities. Well-known for its English heritage, Christchurch is the largest city on the South Island. It also functions as a gateway to the Antarctic for researchers and a few lucky tourists!
This charming city offers a wonderful arts scene and lovely botanic gardens and also the unique landscape of Banks Peninsula with its volcanic origins.

  1. International Antarctic Centre
  2. Christchurch Botanic Gardens
  3. Hagley Park
  4. Canterbury Museum
  5. The Arts Centre
  6. Cardboard Cathedral
  7. The Riccarton Market
  8. Akaroa
  9. Banks Peninsula

The Top Attractions in Christchurch

1. International Antarctic Centre

For those of us who don’t have the time (or money) to actually visit Antarctica, the International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch is the next best thing. Offering unique entertainment and educational experiences, this is for many, a once in a lifetime opportunity. With entertainment options like the Hagglund all-terrain vehicle, the 4D theatre and the storm room (kept at -5 degrees Celsius with a much colder windchill) you’ll certainly feel like you are in Antarctica. Of course, what visit to Antarctica is complete without an encounter with blue penguins and a Husky Cuddle Zone - available to all visitors.

2. Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Encompassing over 50 acres of downtown Christchurch within Hagley Park, the Botanic Gardens are hard to miss - and you sure don’t want to! There are more than 10 different gardens to view here, such as the rose garden, New Zealand garden and a conservatory complex - it is a great area to spend an afternoon. Also located nearby is the Canterbury Museum and the National Earthquake Memorial.

3. Hagley Park

400 acres of pristine wilderness and gardens await you at Christchurch’s main park. With the Avon River flowing throughout the park, as well as Victoria Lake, it is a true oasis in downtown Christchurch. The main attractions at the park are the Hagley Oval cricket grounds, the Botanic Gardens and Canterbury Museum.

4. Canterbury Museum

Learn more about the history, animals and cultures of the Canterbury region at this charming, free museum. Delight in the excellent exhibitions on Antarctica, the Christchurch earthquake, natural and human history and the interactive Discovery Centre for kids! Located in downtown Christchurch, on the edges of Hagley Park, this is a unique and entertaining educational experience.

5. The Arts Centre

A hub for art, culture and creativity in Christchurch, the Arts Centre’s is a unique establishment celebrating all things New Zealand. There are interactive science displays, art studios and galleries, boutique shops, food and beverage outlets, public spaces and numerous events held throughout the year here. The gothic buildings that form the home of the Arts Centre were formerly the home of the Canterbury College and High School buildings and are heritage-listed buildings that have been lovingly restored.

6. Cardboard Cathedral

Due to significant damage to the original Christchurch Cathedral during the 2011 earthquake, the Cardboard Cathedral was created as a temporary place of worship. The Cathedral was the first large building completed after the earthquake and is indeed built using cardboard tubes (as well as timber and steel). A wonderfully unique building that has become a new landmark in Christchurch and certainly worthy of a visit.

7. The Riccarton Market

Located at the Riccarton Racecourse, this popular market is held every Sunday in the morning and early afternoon. A Christchurch staple, the market offers a wonderful atmosphere for a little Sunday shopping (and eating!). Known as a place to find something a little different, the market gives you the opportunity to shop for clothing, jewellery, art, as well as bargain collectables and various ethnic foods. Local musicians also take to a stage to entertain locals and tourists alike.

8. Akaroa

Noteworthy as the only French settlement in New Zealand, this charming little city is sure to entrance you with its historic buildings and striking natural harbour. Akaroa is Maori for ‘long harbour’ and you’ll see why on your visit. The town is located on the Banks Peninsula, amid two ancient volcanic craters that form the current harbours that dominate the landscape. Akaroa is well-known for wonderful sea kayaking opportunities on the local waters, as well as the penguin colonies and dolphins that inhabit the area.

9. Banks Peninsula

A spectacularly beautiful peninsula, Banks Peninsula is comprised of the remains of two large volcanoes, with the craters forming the current large harbours around the settlement of Akaroa. Noted for its unique geology and marine wildlife, the peninsula offers great outdoor activities. On the water, some of New Zealand’s best and safest kayaking trips can be found. On warm summer days, swimming with the rare Hector’s dolphin is also an exciting adventure and one that won’t be forgotten. On land, hiking, mountain biking and horse trekking are all easily available and wonderful ways to explore the area.

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