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Escorted Rail Tours to Christchurch

The oldest city in New Zealand

Christchurch is the largest city on South Island. It is believed to have been inhabited by Maori tribes in about 1250, though much of its history is unclear before 1840. This was when a group of English settlers - known as the 'Canterbury Pilgrims' - established themselves in the area. The name 'Christchurch' was suggested by John Robert Godley, who was a graduate of Christ Church College, Oxford.

Christchurch quickly grew, and was made a city by Royal Charter in 1856 - making it the oldest city in New Zealand (even Auckland, the capital at that time, wasn't officially a city then). With a relatively long history, Christchurch is home to a number of attractions today.

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Grand Tour of New Zealand

Enthralling scenery and breathtaking views are found at every turn in the 'Youngest Country on Earth'. Discover steaming geysers, picturesque mountains, bottomless fjords and lush forests on this tour showcasing the beauty of New Zealand's North and South Islands.

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23 days from £4,995 pp

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Christchurch Cathedral

The magnificent Cathedral is one of the city's iconic landmarks. Its cornerstone was placed in 1864, but financial problems meant that the construction work was not finished until 1873, and the entire complex was finally finished in 1904. But the ornate and complex structure was obviously well worth the wait.

Arts Centre

Other highlights include the Christchurch Arts Centre. Housed in the grand neo-gothic former University of Canterbury buildings, the Arts Centre was created in 1974, when the university moved to a new campus. The centre includes galleries, theatres and cinemas, along with a number of restaurants, bars, cafés and some specialist shops.

Botanic Gardens

Also close to Christchurch's centre are the Botanic Gardens. These were founded in 1863, when the first tree was planted to commemorate the wedding of the future Edward VII. The gardens have since grown considerably, and now feature a wide variety of local plants, as well as numerous exotic ones. There are collections of plants from all over the world, and these are generally grouped into their respective continents for display. Yet there are also gardens dedicated to individual plants - for example, there is a rose garden, which has more than 250 different varieties of rose growing there, as well as a dedicated herb garden.

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