New Brighton Good Life Guide: Jenna Ingram's Picks of the Neatest Things to do in New Brighton

A woman and her son standing in front of a colourful mural painted on the exterior of a building.

Jenna Ingram is a Canadian-born, New Zealand-raised artist, mother, occasional MC/singer, and keen gardener who is slightly obsessed with growing and pickling pickles. She’s also the co-owner and Director of Fiksate Gallery, New Zealand's leading Urban Art gallery.

We chatted to Jenna about her experiences in New Brighton and what makes it special.

Photos by: Nancy Zhou

My husband Nathan and I bought our home in North Beach in 2013. It was a doer-upper; we renovated it and have continued loving living beach-side ever since, along with some incredible additions - our son Frank and two cats, Manny and Tammy. 

We started an art studio in an empty retail space on Seaview Road in 2015/16 with Clint Park, another New Brighton local. This organically turned into the first edition of Fiksate Gallery, and we loved having that street frontage space in central New Brighton. The rent was affordable, we didn't need to have opening hours, and it was a great place to develop our business model and hold exciting and large exhibition openings. 

Our business is now in Sydenham, which also shares the small business vibes we love in New Brighton. There is hardly any heavy traffic on the 15-minute trip into the city centre at peak hour. When you go to town, you get to see some nature - whether you go south via the "poo ponds", west via the red zone/s, or north from our home via the Travis Wetlands, which also has spectacular views in winter of the entire snow-covered Mt. Hutt mountain ranges that stretch North from the Travis Road roundabout.

New Brighton is the best, and we've convinced several friends to move out here!

A woman and boy standing on top of a sand dune.

Sand Dune Walking in the Morning

My absolute favourite walk is from the North Beach Community Centre, on top of the dunes, to the New Brighton Surf Club and back. It is always interesting, with spectacular views. Through the twists and turns and ups and downs, there is one spot where you can see from the very east of the peninsula to the Cashmere Hills and the other way, the beach stretching in a beautiful arc to the Kaikōura mountain ranges. It is magic every single time and sets up my day with positive energy and gratitude. There is a sand dune walking track from Waimari Beach right down to South Shore, so if you're up for it, it's a great walk.

Colourful street art on the outside of a building.

New Brighton Street Art

New Brighton has a great collection of funded and organic street art and graffiti. Fiksate has been involved in several murals - 'Welcome to Oura Paeroa', 'Viva New Brighton' and the Switch Cafe mural, plus other individual installations by Nath and me. There have been amazing festivals put on by the New Brighton Outdoor Art Foundation - Shout out to Rubble City for creating epic opportunities for so many artists. Something new is always popping up, and I love the variety, colour and incredible talent of the artwork and artists on display throughout central New Brighton.

A woman ordering coffee from a small coffee shack at the beach.

North Beach Coffee Shed and Dune Picnic Tables

Nath and I love to walk to the beach on a Saturday morning before our gallery opens, grab a quality oat milk flat white from North Beach Coffee Shed and find one of three hidden picnic tables on top of the dunes. It is a great vantage point to sit and chill and watch the waves, surfers, swimmers, lifesaving crews, and so many doggos. This shed is small but a big part of our North Beach community! Good coffee and beach walks = nothing better!

A park filled with lush green trees.

Rawhiti Domain & Thompson Park

Rawhiti Domain is HUGE and filled with stunning trees, open spaces, playgrounds (three in total), a dog park, and so many activities to choose from. The 18-hole golf course is beautiful; there are several sports grounds - rugby, touch, cricket, indoor netball/hockey, archery and an athletics track. Thompson Park has an epic skate bowl that holds skate jams annually, a quarterpipe and easy hills for beginners to advance. The playground has several areas to explore, and the new basketball court is always in use. There are plenty of tables and seats for picnics or parties, and Thompson Park hosts a huge, busy but vibrant festival every Waitangi weekend.

A covered outdoor mall in New Brighton.

Dinner at Chanakya - South Indian Cuisine

Chanakya is probably the smallest restaurant in Christchurch but punches high with taste and family vibes. We've been going to them since they opened, and the small family-run business down the New Brighton Mall has incredible customer service and southern Indian food. We get the same every time, they know us by our order! Try their garlic or cheese/chilly parathas with their Dal Makani and added paneer and their Butter Chicken, although everything there is fantastic. 

A black dog waiting for its owner inside a vet.

Vetlife New Brighton

The team down at Vetlife New Brighton are amazing. The genuine care and excitement for your animal are really heartwarming. I know not everyone has a pet, but they are a very special part of our community, and my experiences with them have always been positive, even when the situation wasn't. Thanks NB Vets!

Two women inside a large sauna.

He Puna Taimoana Hot Pools

What an asset to New Brighton! These hot pools are SO GOOD! From the relaxing, chill house-mix music playing in the background to the views of the ocean in the open salty air, Te Puna Taimoana nailed it. I love the layout, the pool variation, the sauna with an entire wall window out to the dunes and the high-quality facilities (the diffuser in the changing room is a lovely touch). My son and I love going there on a special day out, just for us. We bop around, float and relax. The larger cold pool is his favourite. I'm too chicken to try the plunge pool, but you should give it a go! The pricing is reasonable, and you get a discount being a local!

Switch New Brighton

Cafes key icon.

7/78 Brighton Mall, New Brighton, Christchurch

Switch has been a part of the New Brighton community for a long time. It was first opened by our friends Hamish and Jen. They then passed over the reins to the amazing wahine Donna. It is a staple of Nath, Frank and mine, with most weekends either biking or driving down there for their fantastic coffee and food. Try the eggs on toast, their selection of slices and cookies and the coffee and smoothies, which are always top-notch with excellent customer service.

The entrance to Rawhiti School on a sunny day.

Rawhiti School

I may be biased because my son goes here, but I love not only the teachers at this school but the entire school layout, so much so that we go there on the weekends to utilise it! There are multiple basketball and netball courts and hoops, two bike and skate pump tracks, an astroturf mini soccer field with nets, a big backfield for bigger kicking around and an epic playground for all ages. There are always people down there when we go, enjoying what Rawhiti School has built for our community.

 

A large sign leading up to the Purple Door Op Shop.

Second-Hand Shops

The Purple Door Op Shop next to the NBHC is fantastic and run by the sweetest ladies ever. I always find a gem in there, and you can discover hand-knit items made by the ladies themselves. Other spots to check out are Redo Renew New Brighton down the New Brighton Mall and Seaside Vintage in the 105 Seaview Road collective. 

 

A sandy hill at the New Brighton beach.

South Shore Spit / Estuary Walk

This place feels like you're on a secluded island. We usually park a few streets from the end of Rocking Horse Road and walk down along the estuary side, then around to the beach access point and along the beach. The views are phenomenal! You see the eastern edge of Christchurch, past Mt. Pleasant, around Redcliffs to Sumner. The beach itself is massive, and seeing the super strong current where the Avon River meets the ocean, is pretty cool. It's an easy and beautiful escape into nature. 

Neat Christchurch & Canterbury Places

Renaissance

An empty treatment room.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
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From expert facial therapy to massages, and everything beauty and skin related in between, there’s a treatment for everyone.

Zeek's

Two women sitting and chatting a table inside Zeek's Christchurch.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
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Everyone deserves a good lunch, and you’ll get a great one at Zeek’s. Fresh, fast and super tasty is the name of the game.

Absolution Tattoo and Body Piercing

View of the counter at Absolution Tattoo and Body Piercing studio in Christchurch.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
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A contemporary tattoo and body-piercing studio in the Arts Centre.

Embassy

A man working behind the counter at Embassy where lots of caps are displayed on shelves.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
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Peruse the likes of Adidas, Vans, Element, and Lower’s latest lines all stocked in store, or choose from more than 50 other international and New Zealand brands.