Planning a future city break? Christchurch's rebuild has created an ideal place to visit, writes Ashlyn Oswalt
Christchurch has long been referred to as the gateway of the South, but this city has evolved into much more. In full recovery mode after the 2011 earthquakes, Christchurch has gone full tilt on creating a vibrant, livable city that makes for a great post-lockdown weekend destination.
What to do on a weekend in Christchurch
Dinner and drinks on New Regent Street
New hot spots are popping up all over Christchurch, but there are few more charming places than New Regent Street. Built in 1932, the heritage streetscape features unique and colourful Spanish Mission architecture. Start off your evening with a Martinie (a tiny martini) at gin gin and then head to Story for a seasonal, three-course dinner. Finish with a whisky nightcap on a cosy couch at The Last Word.
Explore the portside suburb of Lyttelton
Saturdays are made to spend in Christchurch's portside suburb, Lyttelton. An eclectic destination with stunning views, quirky shops, and great eateries, you'll find it hard to leave.
Start your morning with a brisk walk around the Coastal Path, meandering from Magazine Bay, wandering through regenerating forests and sandy beaches to Pony Point Reserve.
When you've worked up an appetite, head to London Street to gorge yourself at the Saturday Farmer's Market, which captures the spirit of the portside town. From live music to fresh and prepared foods, it's easy to lose hours here. Pop into the shops dotted along the street, like Henry Trading for homewares and gifts, and Ladybird for secondhand fashion. Grab a coffee at Spooky Boogie, right next to Ladybird, to fuel the rest of your day.
As the sun begins to set, you'll want to find yourself a rooftop seat at Eruption Brewing to try a tasting paddle and watch the activity at the port. Head to SUPER as the sun goes down, a short walk away, and relax in their trendy, plant-filled restaurant. This Asian-fusion space excels in bao, donburi, and ramen, and you won't want to miss their fantastic cocktail menu.
The night is still young, so head over for one last drink - or maybe two - at Civil and Naval, back on London Street. This tiny spot has a roaring fire, lively bar, and plenty of beers, wines, and cocktails to tickle your fancy.
Reacquaint yourself with the CBD
It's time to check out how Christchurch's CBD has grown over the past decade. Start your Sunday with a stroll through the Botanic Gardens, a vast expanse of curated native and exotic gardens. Next, make your way to Christchurch's new addition, Riverside Market, an enclosed fresh-food space that celebrates makers, chefs, mongers, and more with a vibrant atmosphere perfect for eating and shopping.
You'll want to save room for more food, though, as you head to another new addition, The Welder. Located on Welles St, this refurbished space has been turned into a wellness centre, hosting health-conscious businesses and restaurants. A fan favourite is Bottle and Stone, which dishes up crispy-crusted square pizzas with simple, interesting toppings and organic wine on tap. On your way out, stop by Grizzly Baked Goods for a croissant; you'll thank me later.
Belly full, make your way over to Tūranga, the centre city's public library, opened in 2018. The architecturally-renowned space invites visitors to discover Pasifika and Ngā Pounamu Māori collections on the second floor, check out the observation decks for a new view of Christchurch's famed cathedral, or sit and enjoy the buzzing inner city.
It's time to settle in for a Sunday session at a local institution Pomeroy's. A traditional, English style pub, the atmosphere is complete with fireplaces, patterned carpets, and an extensive tap list. Celebrating New Zealand beers, the colour-coded chalkboard will help you navigate your preferences. Tuck into a Sunday roast and enjoy the live music. If you're lucky enough to stop by on a sunny Canterbury day, snag a spot outside and enjoy their fairy-light lit patio.
Beach time in Sumner
Spend your last day in Sumner, one of the city's favourite oceanside suburbs. An early morning walk up the Godley Head Loop Track will reward you with coastal views, colourful baches, and enough of a climb to earn your treats post-walk.
Once you're finished, head back to Sumner for a classic or vegan scoop at Utopia Ice. If you're in need of more ocean time, stroll along Scarborough beach before heading back to the airport to conclude your trip.
Christchurch's rebuild has focused on creating an accessible, liveable city. Whether you're visiting for a weekend or longer, there's plenty to do both indoors and out, making it a fantastic destination for more than just its surroundings.
Check alert level restrictions and Ministry of Health advice before travel. covid19.govt.nz