Exploring The Terrace: An Insider’s Guide

Buildings lined up alongside a river on a sunny day.

Unearth the hidden gems of Christchurch Ōtautahi's most vibrant dining and entertainment precinct. Just a stone's throw from the picturesque Avon River, The Terrace is a hub where authenticity meets creativity, a meeting point for the intimate and the avant-garde.

Words by: Nicola Amy Hinman

Photos: Nancy Zhou

When exploring the inner city, it's the subtleties that distinguish your experience - the unexpected flavours, the offbeat shows, the clinking glasses echoing from a balcony. It's the scent of exotic spices wafting from a hidden eatery, the laughter spilling from a tucked-away theatre and the hum of conversation under the city lights. This isn't your conventional guide; it's an invitation to explore The Terrace from the inside out, with the city's best-kept secrets in the palm of your hand.

The Craft Embassy

Bars key icon.

The Terrace Level One/126 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch

Anchoring the first level of The Terrace, Craft Embassy is your destination for all things finely brewed. This award-winning bar has its pulse on New Zealand's craft beer scene, offering an ever-changing array of 30 independent, locally brewed beers on tap. The carefully curated selection features everything from the crisp tang of pilsners to the dark richness of stouts - a feast of flavours that keeps the discerning beer-lover coming back for more.

Don't be fooled into thinking this is just a beer haven, though. The Craft Embassy's charm is its friendly inclusivity. Even if you’re completely hops-averse, you will not leave disappointed. The cocktail of the week is always an impeccable choice, and their Aotearoa-heavy wine list simply cannot be faulted. 

Live music Friday nights at The Craft Embassy are definitely a highlight. Think carefully curated acoustic selections while you kick back with some mates over a pint, and you’ve got the vibe. Not to be outshone, the food menu, full of classic favourites done exceptionally well, is 100%  worth checking out. The burgers are bangin’, the vege options are deliciously innovative, and honestly, the whole menu is pretty damn fine.

Little Andromeda

Level 1/134 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch

Hidden amongst Christchurch's vibrant nightlife on The Terrace, Little Andromeda Theatre is an intimate hub for innovative performing arts. Its small-scale seating capacity creates a personal connection with up to three performances each night, ranging from heartfelt plays to wild improv shows and top-tier comedy acts.

Run by local director Michael Bell, Little Andromeda is a champion of both emerging and established artists. The theatre's unique charm lies in its versatile offering of shows - from the monthly Dungeons & Dragons sessions led by comedians to intimate poetry readings, dance performances, and more. You can even just drop by to enjoy the vibrant theatre buzz in their bar, which opens two hours before the first show of the evening. 

Nestled amidst Christchurch's hippest restaurants and bars, Little Andromeda is a cornerstone of the city's performing arts scene, offering an experience that's not just entertaining but also heartwarming and memorable. Plus, knowing that 75% of your ticket price goes straight to the performers on stage adds a warm glow to your evening out.

Sweet Soul Patisserie

Cafes key icon. Goods key icon.

1/79 Cashel Street, Christchurch

Capturing the spirit of a fine Parisian patisserie, Sweet Soul brings something uniquely special to the heart of Christchurch. Stepping through its tall glass doors, you're immediately greeted by an inviting, sophisticated ambience. An array of colourful, delicate desserts, all carefully handcrafted on-site, captures your attention, and you’re immediately mesmerised by the artistry. Brazilian-born sisters Taina and Ria Scur are the magicians behind these delightful creations, and their love for the craft is evident in every bite. 

Sweet Soul caters to every sweet tooth with an inclusive array of treats encompassing gluten-free, nut-free, and vegan offerings. And as the sun dips, the patisserie becomes a haven for late-night dessert enthusiasts. Complement your chosen dessert with a post-dinner caffeine boost, or elevate the experience with a glass of champagne, a quintessentially French way to round off the evening.

This charming spot is a friendly oasis in Christchurch's bustling centre, serving not just exquisite desserts but a dash of Parisian elegance. The upstairs seating area offers a respite from the city's hustle, with a panoramic view of the pedestrian mall - perfect for some people-watching while you indulge.

Pieces of sushi displayed neatly on a round black plate.

Amaterrace

Level 1, The Terrace, 134 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch

Ensconced in the heart of the city, Amaterrace provides a vibrant escape into a world of culinary mastery. This Japanese steakhouse and Teppanyaki restaurant is a favourite amongst Cantabrians for its exceptional quality and authentic tastes. Showcasing an array of fresh and traditional Japanese dishes, Amaterrace brings an electrifying experience to your table. The atmosphere, livened up by the brilliant teppanyaki chefs at work, is a spectacle in itself that enhances the overall dining experience. 

The mood is elevated by the intimate nooks and the enchanting views of the Avon River from the upstairs balcony, creating a setting that's as flavourful as the food. The diverse menu, featuring a comprehensive selection of sushi, sashimi and grilled fare, is sure to entice the taste buds of even the most discerning diner. Carving out an exclusive spot in the central city, this eatery has solidified its status as a must-visit locale for food lovers and those seeking a unique dining experience. Amidst the ambient hum of satisfied diners and sizzling steak, one thing is clear - at Amaterrace, dining is not just a meal, it's an event.

Photo: Stock by Anna Briggs

Buildings lined up in a row along a river.

Avon River Park Terraces

124 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch

The Avon River Park Terraces serve as a tranquil oasis in the middle of Christchurch's bustling city centre. This spot is more than just a pretty face, it's a lesson in landscape engineering, a testament to the city's commitment to harmonising urban development with the native ecology. The shared zone along Oxford Terrace, once a typical street, is now an inviting riverfront promenade, encouraging pedestrians to linger and savour the unique vibe of the garden city.  

Overlooking the river, the terraced structures are a visual treat. Crafted from stone, they echo the dialogue between city and river, providing spaces for public gatherings and quiet contemplation alike. Step onto these terraces, and you're not just closer to the water but part of the city's rhythm.  

The beauty is in the details - with the innovative rain gardens subtly enhancing the cityscape and Te Reo seamlessly incorporated into signage and place markers, subtly emphasising the city's rich cultural heritage. Encompassing the iconic Bridge of Remembrance, this revamped outdoor space is no ordinary park - it's a celebration of Christchurch's past, present, and future, all intertwined within an intimate, vibrant cityscape.

Hands dishing out a salad from a bowl.

King Of Snake

Level 1/79 Cashel St, Christchurch

Tucked away amidst the hustle and bustle of The Terrace, King of Snake serves a captivating blend of Euro-Asian cuisine that's earned a special place in the hearts of Ōtautahi locals. The restaurant's chic interior, featuring an exotic mix of South-East Asian influences, creates a sophisticated yet warm atmosphere that mirrors its refined culinary offerings. 

Even before you enter, the allure of King of Snake starts to unfold. With its strategic positioning, it's more than just a dining destination, but a vantage point capturing the lively pulse of the central city. Open 7 days a week from 12pm till late, this local institution invites you to delve into its luscious food landscape or simply unwind with a drink at the bar.

The tastefully curated selection of dishes captures the spirit of South East Asian cuisine while adding a unique, modern twist, resulting in a combination that’s truly mouthwatering. Innovative takes on classic dishes, paired with their sinfully good signature cocktails, have made King of Snake a favourite for both casual diners and gourmet enthusiasts. And, knowing that it's the restaurant's second iteration, locals and first-time visitors alike can attest to the continuous evolution of King of Snake's culinary legacy.

Neat Christchurch & Canterbury Places

Grizzly Baked Goods

A woman orders at the Grizzly Baked Goods window in Christchurch.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
Cafes key icon.

Effortlessly cool with a friendly and inviting vibe, Grizzly Baked Goods will have you feeling like you’ve woken up in another city.

The Tack Rooms

Inside the Tack Rooms.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
Accommodation key icon.

The Tack Rooms by Hotel Montreal is one of Christchurch's most innovative and unique accommodation options that doubles as an equally spectacular event space.

The National

Someone looking at unique jewellery pieces on display.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
Fashion key icon. Galleries and museum key icon.

The National has been at the forefront of the contemporary art scene in Christchurch for over a decade.

Shelf Home + Gifts

The outside of the store photographed from across the street.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury

Anyone looking for a gift in Christchurch should head to Shelf Home + Gifts on the Cashmere Hills.