Where to Dine Outside in Christchurch

Whether you’re looking to settle in for an evening of people watching or prefer to enjoy your long black in al fresco solitude, keep scrolling for where to find outdoor dining in Christchurch

Lyttelton Coffee Co. balcony.

Words by: Ashlyn Oswalt

Ahh, the glorious joys of a lazy afternoon lunch, cocktail in hand, sitting in the summer sun. Christchurch is celebrated as the garden city after all, and relishing in the hidden verandas, patios, and balconies are summer’s sweetest pleasures. As Christchurch grows, more outdoor places are added to the list, making this city a lovely place to dine al fresco. 

Smash Palace bus.

Smash Palace

172 High Street, Christchurch Central

A true Christchurch institution, Smash Palace is the place to be on a sunny day. When the owner’s original pub fell down during the earthquakes, they decided to open another place, so people could gather and be a part of the new Christchurch. Smash Palace is that place, essentially a bus bar parked in a courtyard, serves up delicious burgers and a rotating tap list. Although the area surrounding is now being redeveloped, the location allows for patrons to take a step back into time, post-earthquake, and watch the city rebuild. As if you needed another reason to go, they also host dance parties (to a wide selection of records) in the courtyard on weekends. You’re welcome.

Lyttelton Coffee Co. balcony.

Lyttelton Coffee Co.

29 London Street, Lyttelton

The back balcony of Lyttelton Coffee Co. is the perfect place for an unobstructed view of the harbour. You’ll find yourself sipping on long blacks and chomping down avocado toast while watching the ships come into port. If you’re lucky enough to grab a front table on market day, you’ll be tempted to spend hours people watching, listening to live music, and enjoying the mammoth menu that the cafe offers.

Smokey T's platter of smoked bbq meats.

Smokey T's

314 Cashel Street, Christchurch Central

If you don’t know where Smokey T’s is, just follow the smell of BBQ to the edge of the city. From there, let your tastebuds guide you on what to order (pro tip: everything) and then find a spot at their upstairs bar, offering a unique view of the Port Hills. If there’s a better way to enjoy a heaping plate of BBQ, we don’t want to know about it.

Craft Embassy front wooden door.

The Craft Embassy

Level One, The Terrace, 126 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch Central

If you want to see what The Terrace is all about but aren’t ready to get amongst the hubbub, we suggest an outdoor table on Craft Embassy’s balcony. You’ll look down from your sheltered (great for a rainy day!) spot onto The Terrace’s most popular spots, offering a safe distance to people watch with a craft pint. We highly suggest settling in for a session - their rotating taps are sure to make any beer aficionado swoon.

Outdoor courtyard with umbrellas at Astro Lounge

Astro Lounge

23 Worcester Blvd, Christchurch Central

The Astro Lounge is part of Christchurch mainstay Cook 'N' With Gas, and acts as the perfect place to settle into after-work drinks on a Friday. Soak in the live music, fairy lights, and cushy couches, all while perusing the extensive drinks list. This secluded courtyard is flanked by large trees and greenery, making you feel miles away from the city centre.

OGB outdoor area.


30/28 Cathedral Square, Christchurch Central

O.G.B. sits opposite the Cathedral and is a beacon of live music, speak-easy style drinks, and high-class service in an oft-forgotten city corner. Their large patio features heaters and blankets for chillier nights, but if there is live music or a warm breeze, be sure to get there early - those seats fill up fast!

Yellow and purple exterior of The Last Word with outdoor seating on New Regent Street.

The Last Word

31 New Regent Street, Christchurch Central

Located on New Regent Street, The Last Word is an impressive whisky bar with an equally impressive and knowledgeable staff. From their mid-century modern furniture to their cosy, just-like-grandma’s knitted blankets, the extensive whisky menu (and plenty of other libations!) won’t be the only thing keeping you warm. The street front spot allows you to people watch and be a part of all the action.

Drinking coffee on the patio at Under The Red Verandah.

Under the Red Verandah

29 Tancred Street, Linwood, Christchurch

A fan favourite for brunch, Under the Red Verandah feels like you’re on your auntie’s patio. Set in a gorgeous suburban backyard with wooden pergolas, wisteria, and plenty of toys for the kids, you’ll find yourself mentally moving in. If the scenery isn’t enough to tickle your fancy, the menu boasts Kiwi classics like posh beans, big breakfast platters, and other delicious items. Bring the family, doggos included, and enjoy a hearty meal and delicious coffee in the secluded garden spot.

Image from utrv.co.nz

Cafe exterior of Sign of the Kiwi on the Banks Peninsula.

Sign of the Kiwi

Summit Road, Governors Bay

A great place to treat yourself after walking the Harry Ell, the Sign of the Kiwi is another great Christchurch institution. Perched on Dyers Pass road, the little cafe offers one of the best views of both the Banks Peninsula and Christchurch. Grab breakfast, coffee, or even an ice cream at this adorable establishment and take in the sights - on a clear day you can even see the snow capped Southern Alps!

Image from signofthekiwi.co.nz

Woman drinking wine at a table with an umbrella.

Cellar Door

1 Hereford Street, Christchurch Central

Cosy, historic, and sophisticated, it’s hard not to instantly fall in love with Cellar Door. Nestled into the historic Arts Centre, you’ll sip and dine amongst heritage brick buildings and gaze out into the grass courtyard. With a wine list several pages long and a menu that’ll make a Michelin starred chef blush, we can’t think of a single reason why you’d only have one drink.

Busy tables of people eating pizza at The Brewery.

The Brewery

3 Garlands Road, Woolston, Christchurch

What could be better than great beer, wood-fired pizza, and a covered outdoor patio? Nothing, we say, which is great news for The Brewery, Cassel and Sons’ bar and restaurant. Located in the Tannery’s brick building and smack dab next to Blue Smoke’s gig space, you won’t feel miles away from the city in this suburban hub. The large outdoor space has a great communal feel and the removable sides of the large tent mean that even in inclement weather you can enjoy the fresh air. Did we mention this one is dog-friendly, too?

Image from cassels.nz/brewery-bar/

Outdoor seating and lighting with view of estuary.

Evil Genius

Unit 2/1091 Ferry Road, Ferrymead, Christchurch

If you’re looking for a spot a little further afield from the city centre, try Evil Genius. Their courtyard is filled with cosy lights, making a picture-perfect setting for watching the sunset over the estuary. The only tough decision you’ll have to make here is what almost-too-pretty-to-drink cocktail you’re going to order.

People strolling around Riverside Market in the Christchurch CBD.

Riverside Market

96 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch Central

A place made for the sunny summer days, Riverside Market leaves you spoiled for choice with outdoor spaces. Enjoy the rooftop views and modern Chinese eats from Midnight Shanghai, or park yourself at the picnic tables for a feast from El Quincho or Herba Gourmet. For scenery that will make you feel like you’re in the centre of a major city, look no further than a spot in the brick alleyways while chowing down on a Shaka Bros burger, we swear the scenery will make you feel like you’re in the centre of a major city.

Diners on the deck at Governors Bay Hotel.

Governors Bay Hotel

52 Main Road, Governors Bay

A short jaunt outside of the city centre will take you to the Ōtoromiro Hotel, but the scenery will make you feel like you’re on a bonafide getaway. Enjoy the sun soaked deck with vast waterfront views and the Port Hills, or relax on the lawn furniture set amongst the surrounding native trees and rose garden.

Outdoor seating area at Fisherman's Wharf.

Fisherman's Wharf

39 Norwich Quay, Lyttelton

Enjoy fresh seafood from boat to plate while taking in the expansive views of Lyttelton Harbour with a cold brew in hand, all compliments of the Fisherman's Wharf. With plenty of heaters and a covered deck, you can happily enjoy this laidback eatery during most months of the year.

Flowered hedge with people dining in the background..

Ma Maison

2 Rue Jolie, Banks Peninsula

This gem is a bit of a drive from Christchurch, but we couldn’t resist adding it as a go-to outdoor dining destination. At Ma Maison, you come for the waterfront views, but stay for the glorious seafood and fresh produce, sourced locally whenever possible. You’ll be glad you made the trip.


Want more of our favourite Christchurch recs? Check out how we’d spend 48 hours in the Garden City.