The South Island of New Zealand has a lot to offer the travelers who venture there. It is a cultural and geographical microcosm of a vibrant nation. Although the country’s biggest and most well-known city, Auckland, is on the North Island, you will find nothing short of an authentic cosmopolitan experience in Christchurch, the first stop on the Country Walkers New Zealand: The South Island guided walking tour.
Check out some of the ways you can enjoy the city of Christchurch and get your walking vacation started on the right foot:
Christchurch is a city that, at first glance, appears as though it is being swallowed whole by nature. Trees and foliage have sprung up among the commercial and residential areas in considerably greater volume than you'd expect for a modern city.
Because of how they represent the city's delicate balance between nature and urban life, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens are among the city's classic attractions. At 30 hectares along the banks of the Waimakariri River, these gardens are open to guided walking tours. Visitors can also ride the quaint Caterpillar electric shuttle. Major flora sights in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens include daffodil woodland, azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, orchids, begonias, and much more, according to Lonely Planet. Also, the Curator's House, one of Christchurch's best-known restaurants, is just a short walk away.
If you’d like to take in the natural wonders of Christchurch from a different vantage point, try taking to the skies. Riding the Christchurch Gondola up the side of Mount Cavendish gives travelers a bird's-eye view of the city as well as the sprawling Canterbury Plains and the idyllic Banks Peninsula. You can also disembark from the gondola at the top of the ride and hike to Cavendish Bluff Lookout for a panoramic experience that isn't obscured by a tram window.
Depending on what time of year you visit Christchurch, you might catch one of many annual festivals hosted by the city.
November, the height of summer for the Southern Hemisphere, brings with it the New Zealand Cup and Show Festival - not only one of the world's premier horse-racing events, but also the site of many other animal shows.
If you happen to take a walking tour in January or February, you may find yourself at the Bread & Circus World Buskers Festival, where hundreds of actors, dancers, and performance artists treat the streets of Christchurch as their stage, hoping to earn spare change or bills from passersby. In mid-February, the Christchurch Lantern Festival doubles as a celebration of Chinese New Year and the city's unique culture, with lanterns hung throughout the streets in a cornucopia of colors and designs. Local music, dance and performance art - as well as great food - abound.
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