Christchurch’s Art Galleries and Where To Grab a Drink Afterwards

From heritage spaces to dealer galleries, here are the best places to get your dose of art culture in Christchurch, and where to grab a drink afterwards.

Man looking art at CoCA.

Words by: Kelly Tapper

Photography by: Neat Places

Christchurch has a rich spectrum of art galleries that can be found in all manner of places; lofty atriums, minimalist galleries, narrow backrooms and semi-industrial warehouses. The artworks vary but what never changes is the simple premise: art is inherently thirsty work (or at least in our books). After an art fix, one requires a moment of contemplation and conversation preferably with a cold beverage in hand. In this guide we’ve paired some of our favourite galleries with the perfect spots to sit down a while and do just that. 

Atrium at Christchurch Art Gallery.

Christchurch Art Gallery + Fiddlesticks

Montreal Street, Christchurch Central City

Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū is the ultimate blockbuster when it comes to art galleries in Ōtautahi. Inside you will find a host of international and local artists to satisfy your penchant for sculpture, painting, multimedia, ceramics and more. Once you’re acquainted with their collection, you can pop over to Fiddlesticks (conveniently located across the street) for a drink and maybe a bowl of their rather delicious FFC. Fiddlesticks Fried Chicken, obvs.

Exterior of CoCA.

CoCA + Miro

66 Gloucester Street, Christchurch Central City (CoCA)

There’s a lot to appreciate at the Centre of Contemporary Art, affectionately known as CoCA. The promise of the radical and the reactionary is perhaps the biggest drawcard. Showcasing contemporary art since 1880, CoCA does what it says on the tin. Bringing the city a revolving door of artists that shock, delight, question and bewilder us in equal measure. Swing into nearby Miro for a cocktail of your choosing to truly digest the artistic spectacles you have just witnessed.

Two women at a table having wine and talking at Grater Goods.

Jonathan Smart Gallery + Grater Goods

52 Buchan Street, Sydenham, Christchurch (Jonathan Smart Gallery)

In a former engineering workshop in Sydenham, you’ll discover Jonathan Smart Gallery. Although the neighbourhood is typically more manufacturing than Monet, the industrial undertones mean the gallery is spacious and light-filled. And better yet, dripping with contemporary artworks. Jonathan Smart Gallery has a broad remit; painting and photography to sculpture, installation art and moving-image work. Visit Grater Goods on Orbell St for your obligatory post-gallery-debrief. Sip on a tasty french red, soak up the bohemian ambience and kick back as if you were a maverick artiste awaiting your lucky break.

Chauncey Flay Leigh Martin Install at Central Art Gallery.

The Central Art Gallery + Canterbury Brewers Collective

2 Worcester Boulevard, The Library Building, The Arts Centre (The Central Art Gallery)

Nestled within the neo-gothic architecture at The Arts Centre is The Central Art Gallery. The ethereal and welcoming space lends itself to an ever-changing display of contemporary artists. The dealer gallery focuses on exhibiting established contemporary New Zealand artists, but also keeps a keen eye on those up-and-coming in the art scene. Once you’ve had a perusal, seek out Canterbury Brewers Collective in Riverside Market for a crafty beer to bookend your art session. Famously coined “The Beer Man”, Chris Ruske will happily quench your thirst with a tasty brew.

Photo credit: The Central Art Gallery 

Wideangle of the Fiksate Gallery, Christchurch.

Fiksate + Brew Academy

54 Hawdon Street, Sydenham, Christchurch (Fiksate)

Fiksate shakes things up a little. It is a haven for those who love urban art. Here you’ll find a collection that embraces the diversity and skill found in graffiti and street art. The space is relaxed and unpretentious, reminiscent of the artistic movement itself. The art is inspired by or born out of, art you could expect to see standing on the streets. Slip into Brew Academy afterwards. A worthy pitstop where your beer could disappear without a trace.

Absolution exterior doors at The Arts Centre, Christchurch.

Absolution + Cellar Door

The Arts Centre, 2 Worcester Boulevard, Christchurch Central City

You may think you’re reading the wrong list with the inclusion of Absolution, but rest assured, you’ll find more than body art in their central city studio. Absolution boasts a gallery space with a rotating exhibition that changes every 4-6 weeks, and who knows, you may see some permanent art being scribed during your visit. Where to next? Cellar Door, just a skip, hop and a jump away. Take a wine flight and consider your next investment art piece (needles optional).

The Physics Room exterior.

The Physics Room + Astro Lounge

Registry Building, 301 Montreal Street, Christchurch Central City (The Physics Room)

The Physics Room, with its beautifully leafy exterior, is a notable art space incubating innovative works from across New Zealand. Tucked away within The Arts Centre, the gallery seeks to promote artists’ works as a valuable voice in wider societal and political debate. Once finished, the Astro Lounge will be waiting for you.

Couple dining at Bottle and Stone.

The National + Bottle & Stone

249 Moorhouse Avenue, Christchurch Central City (The National)

The National has been celebrating contemporary art since 2004 and luckily for us, shows no sign of slowing. The dealer gallery is a delight to explore, specialising in jewellery and objects by New Zealand and selected international artists. Director Caroline Billing's objective has always been to exhibit both established and emerging artists, and the curious will appreciate the more experimental pieces at The National. A short walk away is Bottle & Stone for an après art wine and slice. This place is a great hole-in-the-wall pizzeria, so it would be rude not to indulge just a little.

Interior view of Little River Art Gallery, Banks Peninsula.

Little River Art Gallery + beach beers

Christchurch Akaroa Road, Little River, Christchurch (Little River Art Gallery)

For those wanting to flee the city for art, head to Little River Art Gallery on the Banks Peninsula. The gallery has a multitude of artistic disciplines from sculpture to painting, jewellery to photography for sale. There’s literally something for everyone to pour over and admire. Grab some takeaway craft beers from the Little River Store on your way out, and head over the hill to one of the picturesque bays for a drink with nature.

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