12 Hours Christchurch

An outside photo of Arts Centre and Frances Nation Grocer.

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.

Child Sister

Cafes key icon.

277 Manchester Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

Begin your day in style at the beautifully designed café, Child Sister. Locals flock to this hip hangout, and Child Sister has gained a noteworthy reputation for serving well-executed coffee and effortless breakfast that will fuel your action-packed day in the 03.  The kimchi grilled cheese is a stand-out fave; simple yet delicious, the generous pile of spicy kimchi makes the perfect companion to all that melted cheesy goodness.  Linger as long as you like at this little haven but remember there's much more to see today. 

The exterior of Riverside Market on a sunny day.

Riverside Market

96 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch Central City

Riverside Market has completely electrified the inner city with its bustling community hub, complete with a seven-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 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. For those with small humans, a pitstop at the children's bookshop Telling Tales (located in the same precinct) is a must. As a sister store to Scorpio Books, Telling Tales is a glorious bibliophiles dream jam-packed with books suitable for babies right through to young teenagers. While you're in the hood, Hapa is excellent for perusal as well, and rather than books, you'll discover outstanding local art and design. 

Woman behind the counter at PLUME.

A Spot of Shopping

A gander around a few selective stores is key to any memorable city trip. Thankfully, Christchurch has a plethora of options for stylish folks to scope out, and we’ve cherry-picked the finest for a little shopping before lunch. 

Infinite Definite exudes cool kid charm with a host of international and local labels to fawn over. They also stock highly coveted homewares that will have you adding items to your wishlist – left, right and centre. 

Head Over Heels, located next door, is a killer shoe shop well worth browsing too. Expect a thoughtful mix of footwear hailing from a bevy of top designers. You’ll find classic design and fashion-forward shoes presented side by side. 

Recycle Boutique, found on the same street, is a second-hand haven of designer and vintage clothing. The best part: everything is organised (yes, you heard that right!). The shop is categorised by size, colour, and item of clothing, so there’s no fighting through overstuffed racks here. Spacious changing rooms make it easy to try on and find your not new garment to take home. 

Got time for more? Stop by PLUME who specialise in experimental textiles and tailoring,  and showcase the dark Antipodean aesthetic in all its glory. Think Zambesi, Company of Strangers and NOM*d alongside international designers COMME des GARÇONS, Dries Van Noten and Rick Owens. 

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.

The Welder

Cafes key icon. Goods key icon. Restaurants key icon. Services key icon.

20-26 Welles Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

The Welder is a stunningly and seriously cool repurposed set of industrial buildings in the heart of South Town. You can take your pick from a raft of favourites, whatever you fancy there’s a strong chance you’ll find it.

Bar Yoku specialises in invigorating and flavourful Japanese food with personality. The dishes are balanced, use the best seasonal produce, and they even make sushi tacos. Grizzly Baked Goods offers a short but ever-so-sweet dine-in menu with toasties and bagels abound. Pop to Supreme Supreme just down the road if you want to experience café fare with an American diner twist. The breakfast menu is all day, and like the name and pancake stack, things here come in double (happiness).

O-Studio — located upstairs — is a wellbeing hub and if you're here as the clock nears noon, you could even catch one of their daily meditation classes.

Afternoon

Christchurch may have undergone some serious changes, but you’ll still find a bucket load of history (and some contemporary gems) 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.

Tūranga

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60 Cathedral Square, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

A trailblazer in Christchurch’s post-quake rebuild has to be the inimitable Tūranga (the city’s main public library). Located on the corner of Cathedral Square, Tūranga is extraordinary in both scale and purpose. A biblio labyrinth spread across four floors with soft lighting to soothe even the most tired eyes. We recommend exploring as many nooks and crannies as you can, it won’t disappoint. 

A group of people eating gelato outside Rollickin' in Christchurch.

Rollickin' Gelato

New Regent Street

A wander down New Regent Street’s pastel-coloured neighbourhood is enough to bring out the inner-romantic in all. Enjoy the last of the afternoon strolling past the charming buildings of this heritage streetscape and find yourself a scoop at Rollickin’ Gelato. Their creamy, organic scoops are handmade on-site every morning and feature fun-filled flavours like Butterscotch with Sticky Date, PB&J, and Espresso. Wanting something stronger? The Last Word will create a cocktail worth writing home about.

Christchurch Art Gallery

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312 Montreal Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

Strolling through an art gallery is a rite of passage for most people venturing around a new city. In our whistlestop guide, you can experience an enjoyable art fix at Christchurch Art Gallery which is the city's largest and comprehensive gallery that hosts a revolving door of art exhibitions. In fact, nothing stays the same for long in Christchurch Art Gallery. You’ll be transported through time and space as you move from room to room experiencing a selection of historical and contemporary works spread throughout two expansive floors.

Nearby Physics Room is a gallery focused on beautiful contemporary art with a dedication to celebrating new and innovative works in New Zealand and well-worth a visit too. 

The Arts Centre

Cafes key icon. Galleries and museum key icon. Theatre and performance key icon.

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 if you want an indelible reminder of your trip to the main city of the South, Absolution is an expert tattoo and piercing studio based onsite.

As the day heads towards the outro, take advantage of  Cellar Door, nestled in the picturesque south quad of The Arts Centre. Renowned for their extensive and quality wine flights this is a treat for those who love wine and even those who dabble.  

Evening

Spend your evening sampling some of the best kai on offer in the city, and finish it all off with cocktails that look too good to drink (who are we kidding).

Gatherings

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5/2 Papanui Road, Merivale, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

By now you'll have worked up quite the appetite for dinner, and we suggest making tracks to Gatherings.  A petite neighbourhood restaurant found on the outskirts of the CBD. The restaurant has a stylish yet gentle ambience, the service is attentive and informative, and the food a master play of alchemy and delight. Gatherings do simple elegance very well. The menu changes regularly to showcase local, accessible and seasonal ingredients. Alex Davies, the owner/head chef, wants to honour the planet and the plate by being mindful of what we take from it and when. A philosophy in turn, that has earned Gatherings a coveted Cuisine Good Food Awards Hat. 

LONDO

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Unit 6/2 Papanui Road, Merivale, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

As the night draws to a close, you may find yourself uttering the word, “nightcap?” Who would blame you — there are some notable bars to seek out in the city. Our pick is LONDO, and it happens to be right next door. Like all good nightcap destinations, it imbues a certain quality that’s hard to quantify and you'll be drawn in like a moth to a flame. The intimate space is softly lit and fitted out with exquisitely handmade timber elements, and as most seats are up at the bar, you’re in for a treat watching the folk masterfully at work shaking, stirring and garnishing exceptional creations for your palate. With myriad interesting local wines and more, this petite gem will charm all who come through the door. Nightcap? If you insist, Ōtautahi.