New Brighton Good Life Guide: Samantha Fay

Samantha Fay looking to camera inside her studio.

Meet Samantha Fay, a textile and fibre artist who calls New Brighton, Christchurch Ōtautahi home. Here is her guide to this beachside suburb.

I have lived in the New Brighton coastal community for over 20 years. I grew up in a small seaside village just north of Dunedin, so New Brighton feels like the home I grew up in. I love living here and consider it my forever home. I can hear the waves from my house and have learned the rhythms of the wind, so I know to plan my beach adventures before lunchtime. 

The people are amazing; the sense of community I feel here is almost like a family. I have managed to build a life that means I rarely need to cross the river, and I like it that way. New Brighton is filled with artists and creatives, so I'm with my people.


A close up of hands holding a thread.


68 Hawke Street, Surfside Mall, New Brighton

New Brighton Stitch-O-Mat is my home away from home. I'm a textile and fibre artist by trade, and this community project is my shared baby with Bridget Allen. It's a fantastic accessible, and welcoming community space where people can learn sewing skills at a minimal cost and access methods to live more sustainably.

A brightly coloured poster on a wall at Burger Joint.

Best of Brighton Eats & Drinks

New Brighton is blessed with an array of excellent cafes and bars. The newly opened Dune at The Bridge Hub has a great relaxed atmosphere. My go-to spot for Sunday date nights with Bridget is The Burger Joint - great beer from Southpaw Brewing Company, burgers and a shared plate of cheesy gravy fries.

A white picket fence and Common Ground sign on grass.

Common Ground

Cnr Bridge Street & Estuary Road, South Brighton

I like to head to Friday Food Trucks at Common Ground. There's excellent food, a fantastic community vibe, a book fridge, community gardens, seed exchange and crop swap.

People walking through market stalls on a cloudy day.

Seaside Markets

The New Brighton Pedestrian Mall

The Saturday Seaside Markets run by The New Brighton Project are definitely at the top of my picks. It's great to bump into friends, grab some lunch (usually the seafood noodles from Adams Noodles, in my case) and stock up on snacks. The pretzels from Angie's German Baking are divine with cheese, and a bee-sting from Jerry & George, a must. Be it plants or pounamu, there is something there for everyone.

The exterior of The Bridge New Brighton on a grey day.

Bridge for Community

51 Bridge Street, South New Brighton

The Bridge Hub is an outstanding collaboration by the community for the community. The community lobbied to purchase the earthquake-damaged building and has worked for years voluntarily to create a first-class facility with a café, hall, bookable meeting or practitioner spaces and an art gallery where locals can display and sell their work. The team works to provide the community with a range of activities for everyone.

Colourful paintings on a wall inside New Brighton Gallery.

Explore the Local Art

Shop 4/78 Brighton Mall, New Brighton, Christchurch

You can find some incredibly affordable and stunning pieces at The New Brighton Art Gallery. It's well worth a visit. Recreate was an initiative that grew out of The Old School Project, a space for local creatives at the old Central New Brighton School site. It has a great range of stunning pieces and is open alongside the Seaside Market every Saturday. 

The busy interior of Happy Feet New Brighton.

The Obscure

121 Brighton Mall, New Brighton

Whenever I'm hunting for an obscure fastener or metal link, Happy Feet always has it. Alongside the shoe repairs side, they also sharpen scissors, which I need done all the time and which is a bit of a rarity these days.

New Brighton playground on a sunny day.


We have a wealth of top-class playgrounds in our community, be it the Whale Pool between the Hot Pools and Library or the Beatty Street Playground. We are really blessed on this front.

A stone church on a cloudy day.

Heritage and Community Minded

The newly refurbished St Faiths Church on Hawke Street is one heritage building that survived the earthquakes. There is a freshly established visitors’ desk where residents and locals alike can learn about what's available to them in our community.

Retro homewares on display inside The Collective New Brighton.

Shop Sensational Second Hand

Brighton has a number of great second-hand stores. Stitch-O-Mat occasionally runs op-shop tours and recently filmed a documentary about upcycling using the shops as our hunting ground. The Collective at 105 Brighton Mall is my absolute go-to. Vintage decor and clothing, beautiful handcrafts and my favourite dragon's blood incense (give it a whirl) from Seaside Vintage, Down By The Sea and When Your Sisters a Witch, respectively. $3 and more Clothing in Surfside mall has a great clothing range. Purple Door and Dog Watch have more of a mix of clothing and other treasures. Redo Renew, also in Surfside Mall, is my go-to for cutlery, vases and toys.

Neat Christchurch & Canterbury Places


A hand spoons a garnish onto a dish on a wooden board.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
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Prepare to be wowed by the thoughtful and beautifully executed Inati.

Tiny Door

Place Christchurch & Canterbury
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Tiny Door is New Zealand’s very first hole-in-the-wall food experience, offering restaurant quality food in a quick-as-a-flash grab-and-go manner to the hungry people...

Nicola Quinn Beauty and Day Spa

Produce being applied to a face during a facial at Nicola Quinn Beauty and Day Spa in Merivale, Christchurch.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
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For indulgence from your head down to your toes, pop along to this Merivale day spa.

Cellar Door

Row of wine tasting glasses outside on a table at Cellar Door in Christchurch.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
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The Cellar Door focus is on approachable wine drinking, seasonal fare and free flowing conversation. It feels like your ‘local’ but has a distinctive, exciting element, sans pretentiousness.