New Brighton Good Life Guide: Sam & Caroline at The Burger Joint

Sam and Caroline sitting on the couch at The Burger Joint, New Brighton.

We shifted to New Brighton 10 years ago. Caroline moved to New Zealand from England 25 years ago and has always dreamed of living by the beach. We bought a little cottage in South New Brighton and live there with our teenage daughter Lola, two dogs and three cats. Our eldest son, Mali, recently moved out to live with friends but stayed local.  

Both of us have a passion for hospitality and we felt that we could create something for our community to fill a void. Being lovers of vintage vehicles, we purchased a 1961 Starliner Caravan, which we operated as a food truck in New Brighton for three years. We loved the buzz it created and eventually we were encouraged by friends and locals to open a restaurant. Sticking with our commitment to New Brighton, we picked a local spot, used a local Architect, Jason from Pivnice, and a local builder, Jeremy from JJBuilt, and created The Burger Joint.

Rinse, workout and repeat

Wellbeing key icon.

195 Marine Parade, New Brighton, Christchurch

He Puna Taimoana Hot Pools have become a firm favourite of ours. We’ve brought a pass so we can pop into any session. It’s a good way to relax, the temperature of the pools is perfect and there’s also the sauna and steam room. We’ll often go for a workout at Shoreline Fitness and then head to the pools later for a relaxing soak. Make sure you check out their sunrise sessions, plus they also do late night sessions in the summer with a DJ.

Shelves of vintage inside 105 in New Brighton

Shop like a local

105 Brighton Mall, New Brighton

There’s a collective called 105 on Seaview Road. It’s a mix of Community Services, vintage ware, clothing, art and craft, beautician and gifts. It’s like Aladdin’s cave and full of gems. We use vintage ware at The Burger Joint, so I always have a great excuse to go for a wander and see what I can find. If we ever need screws or anything like that, I pop down and see Denis at Home and Castle Hardware and Stuff. He has everything we would need. Our other favourite is Menage a Trois Vintage at the top of Seaview Road just as you come into New Brighton from the city.

Bottle Lake Forest in New Brighton.

A move in the right direction

Waitikiri Drive, Bottle Lake

We love Bottle Lake Forest! It’s great for walks, running and mountain biking. You can bike there from New Brighton, and we keep meaning to do it. We plan to kick off with a coffee from Green Bear at The Common Ground in South Brighton and bike up the dunes to the forest. In the meantime, we’re happy to slide the kayak or paddleboard out on the estuary. 

There are so many other amazing walking tracks on our doorstep, we’re spoilt for choice. One of our favourites is to take the dogs, walk along the beach from South Brighton up to North Beach and grab a coffee from the North Beach Coffee Shed. Another great track is along the Estuary with lots of birdlife and stunning scenery. There’s a great loop from our house where you can walk along the estuary to the top of Rocking Horse Road and back along the beach, finishing off with a coffee somewhere!

Exterior of Switch New Brighton.

Feast by the beach

7/78 Brighton Mall, New Brighton

We’re so lucky to have Switch Café right next door to The Burger Joint. They have superb coffee and food - I have cravings for their Reuben toastie and keep hassling them to put it on the menu again! Chanakya is a lovely South Indian restaurant tucked in Seaside Mall - their food is amazing, and our daughter is hooked on their chilli cauliflower dish. They’ve had to head back to India for a bit but should be open again soon. We also have a new neighbour in Carnaby Lane, a restaurant called Three Donkeys which is awesome.

Live music at Carnaby Lane Market in New Brighton.

Community vibes

Carnaby Lane, New Brighton

Carnaby Lane Markets are incredible, with live music, food and a variety of stalls. You can grab a bite to eat and a pint of SouthPaw beer and soak in the atmosphere - it’s just like the bustling Brighton of the old days. We put on about four a year. We really believe New Brighton is a hidden gem, and feel privileged to live and run a business here. There’s often something going on within the community - coastal clean ups, markets and the beach on our doorstep.

Green Bear coffee container exterior in New Brighton.

Dose of local initiatives

Common Ground, New Brighton

When we first started out in the caravan, we traded at the South Brighton Surf Club on the weekends. We wanted to create a meeting place for members of our community as the local takeaway shops had been destroyed by the earthquake. This has evolved over the years and the site where the shops used to be is now called the Common Ground. Green Bear coffee has a container there and it is where the community group, Sustain New Brighton, coordinates events such as Food Truck Fridays, markets and more. There’s a tiny shop which is a space that people can hire to sell crafts and hold workshops. 

A new community hub called The Bridge South Brighton has also opened just across the road and includes a cafe, wellness rooms, gallery and hall for the community to use. It’s an old church that was purchased by the community and converted by local volunteers.

Neon lights at Alice in Putterland in New Birghton.

Go down the rabbit hole

60 Brighton Mall, New Brighton

Alice in Putterland is a new indoor 18 hole miniature golf course with a backlight glow in the dark space which explores the journey of Alice’s trip to Wonderland. An excellent place to take the family - you can hold birthday parties or team building activities with your workmates.

Exterior of New Brighton SLSC.

New Brighton

The New Brighton Surf clubs are perfect if your kids are keen to get into Surf Life Saving. They are super family focused and provide an excellent lifeguard service. Lola plays tennis at the South Brighton Tennis club, a gorgeous club with great coaches. It’s right on the South Brighton campsite - another little gem!

Man on a cart at Velocity Karts in New Birghton.

Carts, drift and foos

Bexley Reserve on Pages Road

Velocity Karts are based just up the road - we took our team there for our Christmas work doo and had so much fun belting around the track in the Blokarts. It was a bit of a gusty day which added to the entertainment, especially when Sam went hooning off the track and into a big puddle. They have driftkarts and human foosball as well; the team is amazing and you’re well looked after.

Sam and caroline outside North Beach Coffee Shed in New Brighton.

DIY Hidden Gem Coffee Tour

Various New Brighton

I love that we have lots of little coffee spots hidden around New Brighton. There’s Switch at the end of Carnaby Lane, Green Bear at Common Ground, North Beach Coffee Shed - there’s a little picnic table up on the sand dunes…. it’s the table with the best view! And Saturdays, which is located at He Puna Taimoana Hot Pools. You never have to go far for a good brew!