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Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island, with a population of around 300 000. It is also, arguably, the most attractive city in New Zealand, with extensive inner city public and private gardens and parks, the shallow Avon river meandering though the city centre, and a pedestrian oriented downtown centred on Cathedral Square. It contains one of the two main international aeroports for the country, and is connected via a tunnel to a seaport at Lyttelton on Bank's Peninusla. Christchurch was a planned settlement founded by the English upper class, and this history is still apparent, both in the city's style and architecture, and in features like punts on the Avon, and the very English Christ's College Boarding school.

Cathedral Square

Photograph of Christchurch Square by Torsten Schnier, used with

Christchurch is centred around an impressive neo-gothic Anglican Cathedral located at the heart of the city in Cathedral square. One can tour the Cathedral and, after climbing the 133 steps to the spire's bellfry, 33 metres above the city, one gains a glorious view over the city and beyond. More importantly, perhaps, the square provides a central hub for tourism, shopping and public transport. The main tourism information centre is here, and most of Christchurch's attractions can be reached by foot from the square, or, failing that, by bicycle or bus.

Photograph of Christchurch
Wizard by Torsten Schnier, used with
permission.One thing that visitors to the square won't want to miss is the Wizard of Christchurch. This eccentric character, who is actually an Australian, and a former sociology lecturer, appears at 1pm every weekday, resplendant in robes, to harange the assembled crowd in favour of his various causes, one of which is the inversion of the world map to place New Zealand in its rightful place: at the top. In the picture to the left, he is seen wearing his summer outfit and perched on a small ladder to better address the crowd. For his long service in adding to the local colour, the Wizard was proclaimed Wizard of New Zealand in 1990. You can visit the Wizard's very own web site to find out more.

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