Canoe riding in the Avon.
Canoe riding in the Avon.

You'll find yourself returning there time and again while free-roaming Christchurch on your urban safari.

Riverside Market's cradle of temptation delivers in spades, a food emporium of goodness and decadence in equal measure.

One of my favourite food hall merchants is The Butcher's Mistress, where the meat is so vividly red, you know it's fresh off the hoof.

Don't miss Charing Cross Cheesery for their artisanal sheep milk delights, the Bohemian Bakery's pastries are heaven-scent and Cured excels in hand-crafted gourmet salami. Leave room for The Donut Dispensary — Krispy Crème don't have a patch on these bundles of joy. Scoff a Boston Cream — and you won't disagree.

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To get up to speed with Christchurch's post-quake redevelopment, take a city cycle tour with Stu Waddel from Chill. Stu's two-hour tour threads together a highlights reel of old and new Christchurch, his storytelling is masterly.

Stunning street art.
Stunning street art.

It's the street art, the public art that has really redefined the city centre's fabric, from the spell-binding profusion of wall murals to the striking installations like Michael Parekowhai's powerful bronze sculpture of a bull standing on a piano.

 Michael Parekowhai's bronze sculpture of a bull standing on a piano.
Michael Parekowhai's bronze sculpture of a bull standing on a piano.

Edging North Hagley Park in Park Terrace, Solidarity Grid is a fabulous public art installation of 21 street lamps from 21 cities, gifted to the city as a gesture of solidarity during the recovery.

Tootling through the Botanic Gardens, Stu led me to the hidden urban treasure adjoining the Daffodil Woodland.

"Flora and Otto" is a throne-like stone armchair and ottoman, lovingly mosaicked with broken china, crowd-sourced from quake-hit households.

Within the city centre, we also savoured some of the new pocket precincts that have sprung up in recent years like Salt District, a hive of mixed-use buildings with boutiques and boho eateries on the ground floor, while offices and apartments rise above.

 Cate and Riwai Grace of Amiki Tours.
Cate and Riwai Grace of Amiki Tours.

I also took a cultural meander along the City Promenade, flanking the Avon River, with Cate and Riwai Grace from Amiki Tours, dipping into the city's multi-cultural narrative and some of the creative Māori businesses in the city centre. Their night-time kai safari is a progressive dinner, threading together a string of eateries with seasonal shared plates of local produce from fabulous venues like Inati.

The Terraces on the Avon River promenade.
The Terraces on the Avon River promenade.

The glittering giant of Te Pae, the city's glittering new convention centre, is nearing completion. Its sheer heft is being artfully softened by the 40,000 herring bone tiles, fashioned in braided river patterns, taking shape on its curvaceous façade.

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 Avon River ramble.
Avon River ramble.

In spring, waka tours will be launched in the Avon River, while many of the city's old-standards, like Punting on the Avon, the tram and gondola are about to purr back into life.

I headed for the hills, joining Nicole Ellwood from Crater Rim Walks, for a guided hike on the Godley Head Loop Track, complete with drinks and eats, atop the caldera of this ancient shield volcano.

Harbour vista from Godley Head.
Harbour vista from Godley Head.

Rest assured, it last blew 5 million years ago.

From the exalted coastal promontory of Godley Head, at the eastern end of the walkway, the vista over Lyttleton Harbour's bright cerulean water, backed by the light-tanned Banks Peninsula landscape of tussock and basalt rock make for a painterly landscape.

To the west, the panorama takes the golden sands of Taylor's Mistake, lofty Scarborough and the city's sprawling patchwork. But Nicole really brought the headland to life with so many anecdotes and insights as we strolled the trail.

Dove-tailing with the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII, the gun emplacements of the coastal defence battery at Godley Head have just been refreshed with some superb wall murals by Wongi Wilson, in tribute to the home guard, particularly to the women who operated the whole compound.

There's a stirring relic from Captain Scott's ill-fated polar expedition at Godley Head. One of the pre-fabricated huts that travelled to and from Antarctica on the Terra Nova, is now permanently located on the headland.

Mike Yardley about to ride the longest zip line.
Mike Yardley about to ride the longest zip line.

Fancy a catch-your-breath ride of your life? Head to the Christchurch Adventure Park where the 4 zipline adventure tour, includes the nation's highest and longest lines. I opted to do the stand-alone Long Ride, which spans 1.1km.

Hurtling down to the floor of Cashmere Valley from just below the Sign of the Kiwi is a blow-your-hair ride to remember.

For more insider tips on a great Christchurch mini-break, check out www.christchurchnz.com