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Think Christchurch, New Zealand, and most people think of the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. But the largest city on the South Island impresses not only with the way it’s rebounded and rebuilt itself after the quakes, but also with its quaint charm and friendly people. Take a ride on the historical Christchurch tramway, enjoy a leisurely afternoon punting on the Avon River or cruise an extinct volcanic habour – Christchurch is full of sights that will surprise you!

Celebrate the Maori New Year: Matariki Festival

Matariki – Maori for the “rising of the Plaiades star cluster” – marks the beginning of the Maori New Year. It’s a time to gather with family and friends to reflect on the past, celebrate the present and plan for the future. During the Festival, which takes place in Christchurch in early June, communities come together to share food, perform sacred rituals, exchange knowledge and enjoy music, dancing and games. There’s no better way to get an understanding of the Maori people than with this deeply rooted tradition.

Shopping in Shipping Containers: The Re:START Container Mall

Located right in the heart of Christchurch, Re:START is an outdoor retail space comprised of temporary buildings made from shipping containers. Yes, that’s right, vibrantly-painted shipping containers full of premium fashion brands, food stalls and local New Zealand products. Think Toytown for upscale consumers. And when you’re tired of browsing the goods on display, check out Quake City, a multi-media attraction that tells the stories of the Christchurch and Canterbury earthquakes. You’ll feel the earth move under your feet and be impressed by how the city has brought itself back to life since the deadly quakes.

Get an Aerial View of the City and its Surroundings: The Christchurch Gondola

In one direction, you’ll look down on the sparkling Christchurch cityscape, over the Canterbury Plains all the way to the snow-covered peaks of the Southern Alps. In the other direction you’ll be rewarded with dramatic views of the Banks Peninsula, Lake Ellesmere and Lyttelton Harbour. And in yet another you’ll take in the view all the way from the golden beaches of Pegasus Bay to the distant Kaikoura Peninsula. Located just 15 minutes’ drive from the city centre, The Christchurch Gondola is a can’t-miss experience for adults and kids alike that will leave you breathless with wonder!

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