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Christchurch is the largest city of the South Island. Sprawling out across the Canterbury Plains with a backdrop of the Southern Alps, Christchurch was incorporated as a city in 1862. It was named after the Oxford College attended by John Robert Godley, leader of the settlers arriving in the first four ships to arrive in Christchurch. Visitors find Christchurch a charming city, modeled in the English style. Christchurch city centre is enclosed within 4 broad avenues with Cathedral Square at its centre and shady Hagley Park on it western edge. The River Avon meanders through the city and the park, its banks providing a popular lunchtime retreat.
The city is dominated by its cathedral - a Gothic revival Anglican church with cool and spacious interiors. Cathedral Square contains the Old Post Office (1879), the old Government Building (1901), lots of cafes and shops and an eccentric political speaker called the Wizard occasionally entertaining lunchtime crowds. To the west is the Arts Centre founded in 1874 as a High School, and nothwest is Victoria Square containg the new minimalist Town Hall and nearby the Provincial government Buildings (1858-65). Hagley Park contains the Botanic Gardens and the Robert MacDougall Art Gallery. Backing onto the park is Canterbury Museum. Beyond the park is Deans Bush, an area of native bushland and the beautiful gardens of Mona Vale.
Also worth a visit is The Marae of the Four Winds which includes the carved gateway (Waharoa) and the meeting house (Whare Nui) of the Maori people. Take a shuttle bus out to the Chritchurch Gondola for great views over the surrounding countryside. Long, ocean beaches are only a short drive away at New Brighton and the Port Hills are well worth a visit, for the dramatic views they give of the surrounding areas and Lyttelton. Further afield you can visit Akaroa and the Banks Peninsula or the foothills of the southern Alps where you will find jetboats and offroad exploration of the rugged terrain. You can also take the Trans-Alpine Train to Arthur's Pass and return by coach.
The following 12 cruises call at Christchurch.
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