Named for one of Oxford University’s colleges, Christchurch is known for its English atmosphere and architecture. While the devastating earthquakes of 2011 destroyed many of the city’s historical buildings, Christchurch has retained its quaint village-like charm. Soak up the atmosphere by wandering through Christchurch Botanic Gardens, cycling through Hagley Park or cruising on a flat-bottomed boat on the winding Avon River. Discover a vibrant, contemporary atmosphere at the city’s art galleries and modern restaurants, while at Quake City you can hear personal stories about the earthquakes that reshaped the lives of so many New Zealanders. Beyond the city, you can explore charming towns like Akaroa, located on the neighbouring Banks Peninsula. Famed for its pretty French colonial buildings, Akaroa is a fantastic place to take a harbour cruise and spot dolphins, seals and penguins. If climbing or skiing is your passion, make for the mountains west of Christchurch. In Arthur’s Pass National Park you can follow the hiking trails past rivers, waterfalls and mountain lakes. The glacier-covered Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is the place to go for the most spectacular night skies. Closer to Christchurch, the waterways of the Waimakariri River are a hub for jet boating, kayaking, sailing and swimming.