Christchurch, New Zealand - Stein Travel
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Christchurch

The largest city on South Island, Christchurch is the most English of New Zealand's cities, named after an Oxford college. The atmosphere is reminiscent of an English university town, with school boys in striped blazers and punting on the River Avon, a grand Anglican cathedral dominating the central square, little stone-walled bridges, elegant Victorian architecture and numerous parks and exquisite gardens.

Dubbed the 'Garden City', it is the lively capital of the Canterbury region, priding itself on its green areas, arts and history as well as its sports. The surrounds offer beach suburbs, protected bays and dolphin swimming, green valleys and snow-capped mountain ranges for skiing, hiking, mountain biking and climbing. The city itself has a relaxed and cosmopolitan centre with historic trams rattling along the streets of the bustling downtown area, a lively pub and restaurant scene, theatres, street buskers, museums and art galleries.

Christchurch was heavily damaged by a major earthquake in early 2011, and some of the damage is still evident, with several major tourist attractions closed for repairs, though most of the city is functioning normally. Christchurch is the gateway to the South Island and offers the visitor an appealing mixture of historic charm and vibrant city life, a pleasing balance between urban pursuits and outdoor activities. With the least rainfall of any of the other cities and plenty of sunshine it is a perfect base for a Canterbury experience.

Information & Facts

Climate

Christchurch has a fairly dry temperate climate, with warm to hot summers and mild winters. Summer temperatures range from mild to extremely hot, often moderated by sea breezes blowing in from the northeast. Northwesterly winds, however, are not so kind; hot air blows in with increasing strength and has been known to reach storm force, wreaking havoc on occasion. Winters bring clear, cold days, with temperatures often dropping below freezing level at night, with frost. Snow is a rarity in the city, but falls occasionally in the suburban hills. An unpleasant feature of Christchurch winters is the prevalence of smog, caused by an inversion layer that forms above the city. Rainfalls can be expected any time of year, but are more likely in winter.

Getting Around

Christchurch has an efficient public transport system and is an easy city to negotiate. The bus service is reliable and has a Midnight Express service running from 12pm to 4am on four principal routes. Free, bright yellow electric shuttles service the city centre, with easy-to-spot bright yellow pick up points. Visitors can also enjoy a ride on the city's tram, which runs from Cathedral Square, and the City Circuit Bus connects major attractions in the city. Taxis are readily available and there are also several car rental agencies. Bicycles are another popular mode of transport and the city has several safe bike routes.

Language

The official languages in New Zealand are English and Maori.

Money

Local currency is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD), divided into 100 cents. Most businesses accept MasterCard and Visa, and while Diners Club and American Express are also widely accepted in the main tourist centres, they might have limited acceptance elsewhere. Travellers cheques and foreign currency can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and some hotels. ATMs can be found in all towns and cities.

Night Life

Christchurch has a laid-back nightlife scene, particularly when compared to cities on New Zealand's North Island. Nightlife hotspots generally only begin to get started at around 11pm. The best area to find pubs and clubs in Christchurch is the trendy Oxford Terrace.

Viaduct, Tap Room and Liquidity all attract energetic crowds ready to party the night away. Coyote has a great, and usually packed, dance floor, while Rootes Bar is great for cocktails and people watching. Tequila lovers will be in their element at The Flying Burrito Brothers, and Dux de Lux is the best live music venue in town. There is a selection of popular and usually pumping dance clubs including The Concrete Club and Double Happy. Sammy's Jazz Review Bar hosts classy live jazz gigs and Twisted Hop Microbrewery is the best place to find a proper, but cold, English beer. Christchurch also has a selection of sports bars; some of the more popular ones include Legends, Holy Grail and The Loaded Hog.

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