Christchurch has warmer and drier summers (Dec–Mar) than much of the rest of the South Island, but temperatures don't rise much higher than 22°C (72°F). Winters (June–Aug) can be colder, and despite being at sea level, the city sometimes sees snow. However, temperatures tend to hover in the single figures rather than dipping below freezing.
Christchurch is the festival capital of New Zealand -- no matter when you visit, it's bound to coincide with a festival of some sort. The World Buskers Festival (tel. 03/377-2365; www.worldbuskersfestival.com), from mid- to late January, is the largest street performance festival in the Southern Hemisphere. You'll be treated to jazz and comedy shows, as well as acts of juggling, contortionism, and more. In February, the city bursts into bloom with the Festival of Flowers (tel. 03/365-5403; www.festivalofflowers.co.nz) and the Ellerslie International Flower Show (tel. 03/379-4561; www.ellerslieflowershow.co.nz). The Christchurch Arts Festival (tel. 03/365-2223; www.artsfestival.co.nz) is staged every 2 years in July and showcases international talent. The next one will be held in 2011. Showtime Canterbury, featuring the Canterbury A & P Show (tel. 03/343-3033; www.theshow.co.nz), is an absolute tradition in this part of the world. Staged the second week of November, it features thoroughbred and standard-bred racing.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.