12 Hours Christchurch

A photo of Riverside Market in Christchurch.

Christchurch is home to top of the line retail, quality eating and drinking establishments, and plenty of activities to nourish body and soul. So whether you’re treating yourself, exploring the rebuilding city, or simply after a fresh take of the city, Christchurch is forever full of surprises. 

In this 12 Hour Guide, we stroll around Christchurch's hottest new additions as well as old-time favourites, enjoying a bit of art and culture, some wining and dining (okay, a lot), and a good dose of retail therapy. With a free day up your sleeve, you’ll find plenty to go mad for.

Morning

If you’re lucky, Christchurch will have put on one of its famous bluebird mornings for you. So roll out of bed, wipe the sleep from your eyes, and hit the streets to catch some of the city’s best worms.

Grizzly Baked Goods

33 Buchan Street, Sydenham, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

We start our adventure on an unsuspecting Sydenham Street, where an illuminated bear will be your beacon towards one of Christchurch’s most delicious windows. Grizzly Baked Goods has become one of the city’s most addictive destinations, with a hole-in-the-wall bakery stocking shelves full of real sourdough bread and a cabinet glistening with buttery pastries (the Morning Buns are a must), jam-packed donuts, scrumptious bagels, and toasted sandwiches. A cup of smooth Embassy filter coffee paired alongside a smorgasbord of heavenly carbs will fuel your action-packed day in the 03.

Continue the Grizzly buzz by visiting their store inside The Welder.

Riverside Market

96 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

If you’ve been taking a social media hiatus, you may have missed the opening of Christchurch’s new hotspot across every newsfeed. Riverside Market has completely electrified the inner city with its bustling community hub, complete with a 7-day farmers’ market, owner-operated eateries, and boutique retailers. Grab your reusable totes and let loose in the aisles of fresh, seasonal, and local fruits and vegetables, cheeses, free-range meats, seafood, European wines, coffee beans, cold-pressed juices – you name it! With 30 independent eateries and 40 market stalls, it may be difficult to resist a second breakfast – don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Scorpio Books

120 Hereford Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

This independent bookstore has been a cornerstone of Christchurch since the 1970s. Browse through Scorpio’s huge selection of titles and enjoy all the local bookstore-warm-fuzzies. Plop down in a cosy chair for a few page turns and peruse the robust New Zealand literature section. If bookworms are to get on with the day at all, they’ll need to set a timer here.

Lunch

By now you’ve worked off your morning feast and are ready to do it all again… luckily you’re in just the right spot to fill the gap.

Little High Eatery

255 Saint Asaph Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

A popular resident of the laneways you’ve just been exploring, Little High Eatery is home to nine local, family-run eateries. The food cooperative offers everything you could ever want at lunchtime, as well as delicious eats your stomach never knew it needed. So what will it be, then? A gloriously juicy and free-range Bacon Brothers burger? Fresh, modern Japanese dishes from Sushi Soldier? Flavour-packed Chinese dumplings and bao from Eightgrains? Make that all of the above, thanks.

Afternoon

Christchurch may have undergone some serious changes, but you’ll still find a bucket load of history at its heart. If it’s a hit of heritage you’re after, follow us inside these grand art and cultural establishments for a discovery of artisan wares, one-off goods, luxurious services, and show-stopping exhibitions.

The Arts Centre

2 Worcester Boulevard, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

The Arts Centre boasts one of the most unique and exciting collections of retail stores in New Zealand, all under one roof. With a focus on sustainable and Kiwi made goods, shops like Frances Nation will wow you with beautiful, made-to-last objects for the home that all have their own story to tell. At Rekindle, a buzzing maker space, you’ll find handmade wares all of which are made by local craftspeople who subscribe to Rekindle’s ethos of ‘making what we need from what we have’. Indigo & Provisions houses a collection of carefully curated workwear, home wear and heritage styles, and Skin Space is a natural skincare apothecary stocking top-quality beauty products for the conscious consumer. Pay a visit to Cellar Door for a glass of top-notch vino too.

Canterbury Museum

Christchurch Central City, Christchurch & Canterbury

If you’re a culture fiend, you’ll need little encouraging for this must-do. However, if the word ‘museum’ makes your eyes go droopy – hear us out! Canterbury Museum stands proudly on the edge of The Botanic Gardens, housing a mammoth collection inside some of the city’s oldest buildings. Discover powerful Māori exhibitions, embark on an Antarctic exploration, explore the impressive Bird Hall, and be stopped in your tracks by edgy street art, photography, and art installations. And if you’re still not convinced, then there’s always cake in the top floor cafe overlooking the garden.

Evening

With so many distinctive venues to choose from, spend your evening bouncing from one rad place to the next. Enjoy beers in the sun, out-of-this-world degustation dining, after-dinner treats and cocktails that look too good to drink (who are we kidding).

Smash Palace

172 High Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

Whoever said public transport wasn’t cool obviously hasn’t spent much time ordering Bodgies from Smash Palace’s school bus window. There’s something truly special about this place and its sense of community that accommodates suits and hi-vis, grandpas and students, artists and yuppies, labradors and pugs… Join the mix of characters and find yourself a sunny spot under the festoon lights in the garden. This is the perfect place to ring in the start of your Christchurch evening with top tunes, a few local brews and of course a bowl of cheerios.

The Monday Room

161 High Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

With the sound of Smash Palace’s old-school playlist fading in the distance, look both ways and cross the street towards The Monday Room’s home – which happens to be the only pre-quake building left standing on south High Street. Like its setting, this local restaurant’s menu offers a one-of-a-kind social dining experience. Leave all decision-making at the door and allow their Trust The Chef special to fill your whole table with a generous banquet of bold, creative, and seasonally-inspired dishes. There’s even a Trust The Somm to top your glasses with the very best wine pairings (ooh la la!).

The Last Word

Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

Watching dusk fall on New Regent Street’s pastel coloured neighbourhood is enough to bring out the inner-romantic in all. Enjoy the last of the daylight wandering past the charming buildings of this heritage streetscape. The street is home to some of Christchurch’s best bars and restaurants, including Twenty Seven Steps, The Last Word, and The Institution, and sitting on the street corner is the cherry on top – Rollickin’ Gelato. There’s a reason you were blessed with a second stomach for dessert, and this is the ultimate place to put it to good use. Their creamy, organic scoops are handmade on-site every morning and feature fun-filled flavours like Butterscotch with Sticky Date, PB&J, and Espresso.

gin gin

4 New Regents Street, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

Those who love gin already and those who want to get to know her better will all fall madly in love with this cocktail bar. Gin gin’s pink interior, vibrant plant life, and quirky decor all complement the exciting and unusual cocktails that are on offer here. The drinks menu features boutique gin from New Zealand and beyond with added colour, flavour, and texture from special additions like fermented berries, tonics, rose petals and more. Did you think we were going to end your night on a basic G&T? No way.