Iíve decided to take a semester to study abroad in New Zealand, but have not decided on the city yet. My options are University of Canterbury or University of Otago. Can someone tell me a little bit about each of the cities? I have done some basic research, but neither has jumped out as being much better than the other. I will definitely be bringing my bike, and hope to get some good riding in while Iím there.
AlsoÖI could either go from July-November, or from January-June. I imagine July-Nov would be quite a bit colder? Is it still warm enough for cycling most days?
I can confirm that Jan-Jun will be warmer than Jul-Nov. Still it was certainly warm enough for me in Auckland this last winter for cycling. Regrettably, I can't really speak for the South Island, as I've never been.
I've heard that U of Canterbury has a particularly good cycling policy, in terms of facilities and scheduling and future development. From a distance, it sure seems a far sight better than U of Auckland's situation. I don't know anything about cycling at U of Otago, or the cities themselves.
Winter riding in the South Island will require a skull cap, ski gloves, wind proof booties, a really good jacket, and plenty of layers. Overnight lows there will be below 0C regularly during winter as opposed to 5C or higher in Auckland.
Christchurch and Dunedin can both get snow to sea level on a couple of occasions each winter, but it's more likely in Dunedin than Christchurch.
Based on my very limited experience, I would go with Christchurch. And there's an organic restaurant in Picton that has the best chowder in the world. Dunedin would be good if you're really into hills.
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I enjoyed both when I was there earlier in the year, but I'm probably slightly partial to Dunedin. I absolutely loved the day I spent on the Otago Peninsula, and I spend hours strolling around some of the beech forests just outside the city centre. Then you have access to the Catlins coast or the hills in Central Otago with a bit of effort. That said, I also enjoyed the Port Hills near Christchurch, and the Canterbury Plains were more interesting than I'd expected. A little further afield, you could even head for Porters Pass if you wanted a decent climb.
Probably the best advice is that if you choose one, make sure you spend some time in the other.
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I would suggest you intitially choose your university with regard to your course of study. Otago and Canterbury have vastly different strengths depending on the discipline. As far as cycling goes, Canterbury is by far the better option as it has better weather and is recognised as New Zealand's premier 'cycling city'. Dunedin is hilly and very often snowbound in winter. The advantages for Dunedin are the 'rail trail' in Central Otago, and access to the old gold trails...wonderful cycling in good weather.
Canterbury (Christchurch) is on a plain and the long, flat rides can be occasionally a bit tiresome...although you can head out over Banks Peninsular to Akaroa if you want hills and scenic vistas.
But generally speaking, its Canterbury for cyclists!
you definately dont want to ride in winter at either city.I live and ride in christchurch and are very pleased with the tracks. you have a few options in chch including bottle lake forest macleans island, there are also a lot of very high quality BMX tracks dotted around the cit if your interested.GOOD PICKING!!!