Situated on the Canterbury plains, Christchurch is the largest city on the south island of New Zealand. Known as the garden city and the gateway to the Antarctic, the city has an incredibly English feel, contrasted by the majestic landscape of the Country. The Architecture of the city can be explained from the founding by the Canterbury Association which named the area and the city. The city is encased within the four avenues of Moorhouse, Fitzgerald, Bealy and Deans. In the middle of which is Cathedral square. Located to the west is the large Hagley Park with its spectacular botanical gardens. Within the surrounding area the southern Alps present the visitor with spectacular scenery. Arthur's pass is not only the route to the west side of the country it has majestic hikes and climbs and many ski areas around the alpine landscape. To the east of the city, on the banks peninsula, visitors can swim with the rare hector dolphins from the town of Akaroa. The main port of Christchurch is in the town of Lyttelton. Although officially the port of Lyttelton, Christchurch city council owns a 65% share. The port is the main gateway for the south island and has many berths for both cruise liners and container ships.
The land of Canterbury was originally bought from the Maori tribes by the Weller brothers. From this the Canterbury Association sent the 'first four ships' bringing the Canterbury pilgrims which landed in Lyttelton in 1850. They settled the land with a grand vision of a cathedral and college surrounded by the city. This was based around the Christchurch college layout of Oxford University. Christchurch also has a historical connection to the Antarctic expeditions; both Scott and Shackleton used the port of Lyttelton as a departure point. Christchurch airport is a major base for modern expeditions and a supply line to the continent.
Within the city itself the visitors can explore the beautiful gardens and Gothic architecture. The city also contains many art and music centres and is a cultural centre of the island. Around the city, the nature of the island offers many activities including skiing, hiking, diving and swimming with dolphins.