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The gateway for exploring the South Island
Set on the coast, at the edge of the fertile Canterbury Plains, the plethora of parks and green spaces have earned Christchurch the nickname 'garden city'. Try punting in the Botanic Gardens, dolphin-, whale- and seal-spotting on a day cruise or enjoy the water and alpine views from a hot air balloon. Alternatively, consider getting a chilly taste of adventure with the kids at the International Antarctic Centre. Yes, there are penguins.
Earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 caused damage to the CBD but a quirky collection of shops-in-shipping containers, Re:START Mall – the first retail outlet to recommence business – is a credit to the spirit of Christchurch. The inner suburb of Addington is a new live entertainment hub and its neighbour, Sydenham, also housed businesses as the central business district was being rebuilt. The area south of Moorhouse Avenue is now affectionately known as 'SoMo'. If you're wondering where to stay, there are rafts of accommodation types, from central 5-star luxury to holiday parks or a cottage tucked amid the surrounding hills and plains.