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Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island, with a population of over 350,000. The Garden City is also, arguably, the most attractive city in New Zealand, with extensive inner city public gardens and parks, the shallow Avon river meandering though the city centre, and a pedestrian oriented downtown centred on Cathedral Square.

Christchurch was a planned settlement founded by English colonialists. This rich English history is still apparent in the city's atmosphere; historic trams loop around the city, you can punt down the Avon, and the city is scattered with impressive Neo-Gothic buildings.

Christchurch enjoys the largest collection of Gothic architecture in the country, with Christchurch Cathedral, the Canterbury Museum, Christ's College School, and the former University of Canterbury, which now forms the bustling cultural centre of Christchurch, the Arts Centre.

Christchurch is also a city which embraces festivity, with a continuous stream of events and festivals throughout the year, including the Christchurch Arts Festival, New Zealand Cup and Show Week, the World Buskers Festival, the Lyttelton Festival of Lights, the Ellerslie International Flower Show and the Antarctic Festival - each celebrating particular aspects of Christchurch's unique character.

Christchurch contains one of the two main international airports for the country, and is connected via a tunnel to a seaport at Lyttelton on Bank's Peninsula. It is widely regarded as the Gateway to the South Island and is the perfect place to base your New Zealand holiday.