Chrstchurch is the South Island's largest city and home to just over 350,000 people. It's the most English of New Zealand's cities with punting on the River Avon, an Anglican cathedral dominating the city square, stone-walled bridges and elegant Victorian architecture.
Home to a wide variety of award-winning restaurants, Christchurch has accommodation options for every budget and offers a thriving nightlife scene.
Known as the 'Garden City,' Christchurch is filled with over 700 parks that cover 3,000 hectacres. The largest of these are the pristine Botanical Gardens which are home to horticultural displays, conservatories, walking tracks, garden art and cover 21 hectacres. Besides the green space, there are nearby beaches, a lively city centre packed with pubs and restaurants, a great sports scene and several museums.
In Christchurch, you're never far from the beaches to the east or the Southern Alps to the west. Some of the South Island's best mountain biking is only a short drive away near the thermal resort town of Hanmer Springs.
With an excellent international airport, Christchurch is the place to enter the South Island for your biking adventure. Also with the St James Cycle Trail opening on November 20th, Christchurch is the ideal location to base yourself before the two hour drive to Hanmer Springs to ride New Zealand's second Great Ride.