With its rolling hills and quiet people, Christchurch personifies the Canterbury region. Nearby Lyttleton with its dramatic hillside views, sea lions and enormous lumber yards is a perfect place for a day trip as is Akaroa, a slightly further-afield coastal town that overlooks the gloomiest grey waves of the South Pacific and Southern Oceans.
Christchurch's thriving arts and crafts scene is displayed in artisan's stores and boutiques as well as a weekly arts and crafts market. Several annual film festivals are centered in Christchurch and the café and restaurant scene here is easily one of the best in New Zealand. The cathedrals and gardens of Christchurch are its trademark and are justifiably well-patronized.
Christ Church Cathedral marks Cathedral Square, which is the main central civic square of the city. The 134 steps that lead to the top of the fabulous Gothic spire are open to the public and guided walks around the square are informative and good value.
Colombo Street is the main retail and commercial thoroughfare in Christchurch. It runs straight through Cathedral Square and runs to either end of the city. Many of Christchurch's fine hotels are on Colombo Street along with countless shops and art galleries.
An exemplary piece of urban renewal, Chancery Lane has been transformed from a dim part of the inner city into a glittering constellation of bars, cafés and restaurants. It is jam packed with locals and tourists every night of the year.
The Christchurch Botanic Gardens feed away from the city and contain a great length of the pretty Avon River. The Gardens cover around 100 acres and there are several offices of Tourism New Zealand and cafés within the grounds.
The former campus of the University of Canterbury has been transformed into the superlative Arts Centre, which faces the Botanic Gardens. The Gothic buildings now house working studios and ateliers and goods such as merino jumpers and possum fur gloves are for sale beside the glorious work of local painters and sculptors. Find more information about Christchurch and hotels in the area: Christchurch hotels
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