Guide12 Hours Christchurch
Christchurch is well and truly on the way to recovery from its shaky past, with the regeneration of the city seeing so many quirky cafes, world-class bars and interesting retail popping up it’s hard to keep track of it all.
The best things to see, eat and do.
A city that at first glance can conceal its best sides, Christchurch is filled with exciting spots when you know where to look. From its quirky harbour town, to the newly developed city centre and the gorgeous beaches, the Garden City has more to offer than you may think. Let our guide help you discover some of the neatest spots around town.
There’s far too much to do than there are hours in the day to truly explore this beautiful city, so best wake with the birdsong. And what better way to get to know a city than by beginning your day along with the locals at the break of dawn?
294 Kilmore Street, Christchurch Central, Christchurch
Find your way to one the city’s top cafes to fuel yourself with a hearty breakfast and find out how Cantabrians start their day. Little Poms is a shining example of how a neighbourhood café should be, charming and welcoming with a breakfast menu that’ll make you start planning your next visit even before you place your order. Think house made crumpets, chilli scrambled eggs and blueberry hotcakes. Accompany your breaky of choice with a great coffee and be set for the day ahead.
Shop 19, The BNZ Centre, 111 Cashel St
Yet another few steps down on a lane in the BNZ Centre you can discover one of the most authentic gift stores in Ȱtautahi. Hapa has got you covered with all your gift needs. This beautiful shop will awaken your curiosity and make you feel inspired in an instant. Showcasing a carefully curated selection of mostly local design, here you can find unique items from jewellery to art prints and kids toys to skincare products and everything in between.
246 High Street, Christchurch Central, Christchurch
Further up the road you can enter Infinite Definite, a locally owned and operated clothing store offering hand-sourced, carefully-curated brands from New Zealand and all over the world. Serving Christchurch and beyond for nearly a decade, this store’s ever-changing, seasonal collections consist of much loved designers like local heroes Georgia Alice and Jack Hill, as well as Lonely, Kowtow, Twenty-Seven Names and more.
Stencil High Street
227a High Street, Christchurch Central
Walk up High Street and you’ll find Stencil, a fine apparel store that stocks contemporary womenswear and menswear pieces from cutting edge local brands such as Federation, Commoners, Alike, Huffer, Five Each, On & On and Standard Issue. On a more international level, expect to find the likes of Swedish denim company Nudie and Sydney-based Vanishing Elephant.
Saint Asaph Street, Christchurch Central, Christchurch
A melting pot of art, music, food and culture, BOXed Quarter is a hub of innovation nestled in the city. The ground floor houses a number of eateries, bars and cafes that sit along music studios and gallery space. Up at the above levels, you’ll find light-filled modern office spaces and the beautiful ARTpartment – a loft-style apartment available for rent on AirBnb. Scattered amongst all of this there’s a resident tattoo parlour, hairdresser and beautician. A visit to this multi-layered precinct will surely leave you inspired.
By now you’ve surely worked up an appetite, so keep those legs moving and make your way towards a lunch spot like no other.
Smokey T's at The Corner Store
314 Cashel Street, Christchurch Central, Christchurch
Inhabiting a refurbished warehouse transformed from graffiti laden abandonment to an immaculate white and shining building, The Corner Store brings artists, community space and the best barbeque in town inside the four avenues. Upstairs houses work space for fifteen resident artists, while downstairs a multi-use space works as a gallery and a lunch-time restaurant (along with a number of other uses). At the back of the space authentic wood fired barbeque is produced by Smokey T’s and served in a street fare manner. Expect some of the softest, juiciest slow-cooked meat you’ve ever tasted. Wash your meal down with local beer and take in the art on the walls along with the friendly ambiance of this special spot.
After some tasty kai and a proper refuel, it’s time to hit the road again and continue exploring the city.
The Physics Room
49/59 Worcester Boulevard, Christchurch Central, Christchurch
Make your way towards the Christchurch Art Gallery and within it discover The Physics Room, a beautiful contemporary art space dedicated to celebrating new and innovative works in New Zealand. The gallery plays an integral role in fostering a new generation of artists and hosts exhibitions, talks, publications and temporary studio space, along with accommodation for visiting artists and curators.
66 Gloucester Street, Christchurch Central
Around the corner from above lies a beautiful newly restored modernist building that houses The Centre of Contemporary Art (CocA). The building itself is well worth a marvel, though it’s inside where the magic happens. The gallery plays host to a revolving seasonal programme of innovative, explorative, and sometimes confounding art.
The Arts Centre of Christchurch
2 Worcester Boulevard, Christchurch Central, Christchurch
An iconic landmark in Christchurch, The Arts Centre is being carefully restored to its former glory. Now open to public again and housing some of the most interesting little boutiques in town, this cultural taonga is a must to explore for every visitor to the city.
Within these stone walls, you’ll find the likes of Frances Nation – an extraordinary gift store celebrating New Zealand made daily wares, each with a purpose and a story to tell. From potato mashers to tool boxes, hand thrown ceramics to harakeke baskets, the shop is full of made-to-last things and is hard not to fall in love with.
Further down the hall is the home of Absolution, one of the top Tattoo and Body Piercing studios in the city. On top of body art, Absolution is also partial to contemporary art and sculpture. Their studio plays host to revolving monthly exhibitions and boasts a carefully curated selection of jewellery.
44 Welles Street, Christchurch Central, Christchurch
After the cultural intake of art and artefacts, you’ve surely worked up a thirst and what better way to cure it than with a pint at a local urban pub operation. Boasting 24 beer taps, many of which rotate local craft beers, you’re spoilt for choice here. Welles Street offers a lovely streetside outdoor beer garden which attracts the afternoon sun, so slip, slop, slap and wrap and enjoy that cold one in good company.
As the sun dips behind the Southern Alps, another chapter of Christchurch life unfolds. Despite that early morning wake-up, it’s best to carry on to discover the city in the moonlight.
5 Elgin Street, Sydenham
One of the latest additions to the dining scene in town, 5th Street is bound to impress. This is the perfect spot for foodies to get into some of the best culinary delights Christchurch has to offer, with every detail on the menu and in the fit out carefully considered. The food here is made with love and designed to work for the format of your evening – there’s delicious small plates such as Korean sticky fried chicken, medium plates such as Mushroom medley with seaweed butter and crispy nori, and larger plates such as Braised lamb shoulder. On the drinks side, you’ll find a number of New Zealand craft beers, local wines and a selection of classy cocktails.
Rollickin' Gelato Arts Centre
35 New Regent Street, Christchurch Central
Now you may have feasted your fare share throughout this day, but there’s always room for dessert, right? Make your way across town to New Regent Street for a wander and a delicious gelato. Rollickin’ Gelato offers an ever-changing variety of flavours from peanut butter & jelly to lemon, lime & bitters sorbet. Hand-made in store every morning, the frozen goodness here is truly finger lickin’ good.
The Last Word
31 New Regent Street, Christchurch Central
Finish up the evening with a drink at the newly refurbished Last Word. This is a bar that offers one of the largest selections of whisky in the country (we’re not kidding, it has 450 varieties available) and an impressive cocktail list, so you’ll be sure to find something that tickles your fancy. A relaxed spot to wrap up the day, or gear up for more of the night to come, if you haven’t worn yourself out by now!