A Barbie doll reclining in a coffee cup spins around on a turntable.

The dizzy blonde is but one of the visual delights in this converted warehouse where my eyes are also drawn to the coffee table bases that are old milk crates filled with glass milk bottles.

We're in C4, a coffee roastery, so obviously the senses of smell and taste are also in for a thrill.

Which is pretty much what this day is about, as we're on the Christchurch Gourmet Bike Tour.

Christchurch is reputably the only New Zealand city to offer a guided bike tour, and tour organisers Ben and Stephanie Fitts have added a gourmet tour to their repertoire.

It's going down a treat, Stephanie says, and little wonder.

Fortified by fabulous coffee, we pedal from one intriguing food or drink establishment to another on the thick-tyred Summer Fun Cruiser bikes.

Gourmet delights aside ... even the journey is fun. We cycle past Russian, Spanish and Greek restaurants and over bridges, waving at the punters on the Avon, bedecked in their Edwardian garb. We wend our way down cobbled byways such as SOL Square and the Parisian-inspired Poplar Lane.

There's no cold war hangover in the latter where a German Bier House is close companion to a Russian Vodka Bar, with both providing plenty of frivolity. The lane becomes even more multi-cultural on Saturdays when it hosts a French market, and even more vibrant once a year when it's the venue for a Wild Food Festival.

Poplar Lane is also home to the Twisted Hop Boutique Brewery, which is sometimes a stop on this gourmet tour. When we visit, however, Stephanie leads us instead to the Dux de Lux in the heart of the city's cultural precinct.

Here, brewing director Dicky Fife takes us through a tasting session, in which we sample the microbrewery's award-winning ales, some of which he's been making for 20 years.

Women are his biggest growth market, he says, as I down a Ginger Tom - an alcoholic ginger beer made from green root ginger.

Stops along the way include a cupcake parlour where I have to take a bite or 10 of assorted dainty delights to prove I'm not dreaming. This - New Zealand's first cup-cakery - resembles something out of a fairytale book with its dreamy swirls of pink, lemon and mint frosting, chocolate hearts, edible flowerets and butterflies atop an assortment of cupcakes. Among those we sample is the most popular seller - passionfruit and vanilla.

Cousins Annabel Newman and Kirsten Taylor, who own and run the establishment, tell how some of their secret recipes come from their mutual grandma. Before setting up shop, the two swapped cupcake recipes across continents as light relief from high-powered careers in New York and England.

From cupcake marvels to cheesemongering - right next door is another Christchurch Gourmet Bike Tour stop, the Canterbury Cheesemongers. We never stood a chance of resisting these speciality cheeses, and praise Stephanie for the inclusion of baskets on the front of our bikes. Cheeses meet cupcakes.

Stephanie admits to being spoilt for choice when it comes to places to include on her tour. Some days the tour includes a fudge factory stop, and on Saturdays either the Canterbury Farmers' market at Riccarton, or the French market at Poplar Lane. If the tour includes overseas tourists, then a pavlova-tasting stop at Mona Vale Gardens is included.

Tourists and New Zealanders alike all get to enjoy Akaroa salmon and West Coast whitebait, which is part of a three-course lunch at the elegant restaurant within the picturesque Botanic Gardens. At this, the tour's last stop, calamari and Spanish sausage join figs, cheeses, olives, chutneys and more on generous platters. Just as impressive are the greens - and fruit and berries - fresh from the restaurant's lush and environmentally sustainable gardens. A grand finale to a grand biking tour.

CHECKLIST
Extra information: The Christchurch Gourmet Bike Tour costs $150 a head. This includes nibbles and coffee along the way, plus beer tasting and a three-course tasting meal to finish. It takes about four hours.

The tour starts and finishes in the inner city's hub, outside Cathedral Square's Information Centre. Stephanie and Ben also run The Original Christchurch Bike Tour and The Farmers' Market Bike Tour. Both take two hours. They can also arrange custom bike tours to suit - including corporate, team-building outings.

The gourmet tour operates year round. Bookings essential. See chchbiketours.co.nz or call 0800 pedals (0800 733 257).

Monique Balvert-O'Connor's gourmet excursion was courtesy of Christchurch Bike Tours, and her visit to Christchurch was assisted by Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism.