Dine Al Fresco at the Best Outdoor Restaurant Spots in Christchurch
Whether you’re looking to settle in for an evening of people watching or prefer to enjoy your long black in al fresco solitude, keep scrolling for where to find outdoor dining in Christchurch
Words by: Ashlyn Oswalt
Ahh, the glorious joys of a lazy afternoon lunch, cocktail in hand, sitting in the summer sun. Christchurch is celebrated as the garden city after all, and relishing in the hidden verandas, patios, and balconies are summer’s sweetest pleasures. As Christchurch grows, more outdoor places are added to the list, making this city a lovely place to dine al fresco.
172 High Street, Christchurch Central
A true Christchurch institution, Smash Palace is the place to be on a sunny day. When the owner’s original pub fell down during the earthquakes, they decided to open another place, so people could gather and be a part of the new Christchurch. Smash Palace is that place, essentially a bus bar parked in a courtyard, serves up delicious burgers and a rotating tap list. Although the area surrounding is now being redeveloped, the location allows for patrons to take a step back into time, post-earthquake, and watch the city rebuild. As if you needed another reason to go, they also host dance parties (to a wide selection of records) in the courtyard on weekends. You’re welcome.
Lyttelton Coffee Co.
29 London Street, Lyttelton
The back balcony of Lyttelton Coffee Co. is the perfect place for an unobstructed view of the harbour. You’ll find yourself sipping on long blacks and chomping down avocado toast while watching the ships come into port. If you’re lucky enough to grab a front table on market day, you’ll be tempted to spend hours people watching, listening to live music, and enjoying the mammoth menu that the cafe offers.
23 Worcester Blvd, Christchurch Central
The Astro Lounge is part of Christchurch mainstay Cook 'N' With Gas, and acts as the perfect place to settle into after-work drinks on a Friday. Soak in the live music, fairy lights, and cushy couches, all while perusing the extensive drinks list. This secluded courtyard is flanked by large trees and greenery, making you feel miles away from the city centre.
30/28 Cathedral Square, Christchurch Central
O.G.B. sits opposite the Cathedral and is a beacon of live music, speak-easy style drinks, and high-class service in an oft-forgotten city corner. Their large patio features heaters and blankets for chillier nights, but if there is live music or a warm breeze, be sure to get there early - those seats fill up fast!
The Last Word
31 New Regent Street, Christchurch Central
Located on New Regent Street, The Last Word is an impressive whisky bar with an equally impressive and knowledgeable staff. From their mid-century modern furniture to their cosy, just-like-grandma’s knitted blankets, the extensive whisky menu (and plenty of other libations!) won’t be the only thing keeping you warm. The street front spot allows you to people watch and be a part of all the action.
Corner of Worcester Boulevard &, Montreal Street, Christchurch Central
The perfect place to meet up and savour a drink in the city, Fiddlesticks offers great views of the Art Gallery and plenty of opportunities for people watching. With outdoor seating spilling out onto Worcester, you’ll enjoy the sights of Christchurch’s tram, all while sipping from an extensive wine list.
1 Hereford Street, Christchurch Central
Cosy, historic, and sophisticated, it’s hard not to instantly fall in love with Cellar Door. Nestled into the historic Arts Centre, you’ll sip and dine amongst heritage brick buildings and gaze out into the grass courtyard. With a wine list several pages long and a menu that’ll make a Michelin starred chef blush, we can’t think of a single reason why you’d only have one drink.
3 Garlands Road, Woolston, Christchurch
What could be better than great beer, wood-fired pizza, and a covered outdoor patio? Nothing, we say, which is great news for The Brewery, Cassel and Sons’ bar and restaurant. Located in the Tannery’s brick building and smack dab next to Blue Smoke’s gig space, you won’t feel miles away from the city in this suburban hub. The large outdoor space has a great communal feel and the removable sides of the large tent mean that even in inclement weather you can enjoy the fresh air. Did we mention this one is dog-friendly, too?
Image from cassels.nz/brewery-bar/
Unit 2/1091 Ferry Road, Ferrymead, Christchurch
If you’re looking for a spot a little further afield from the city centre, try Evil Genius. Their courtyard is filled with cosy lights, making a picture-perfect setting for watching the sunset over the estuary. The only tough decision you’ll have to make here is what almost-too-pretty-to-drink cocktail you’re going to order.
96 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch Central
A place made for the sunny summer days, Riverside Market leaves you spoiled for choice with outdoor spaces. Enjoy the rooftop views and modern Chinese eats from Midnight Shanghai, or park yourself at the picnic tables for a feast from El Quincho or Herba Gourmet. For scenery that will make you feel like you’re in the centre of a major city, look no further than a spot in the brick alleyways while chowing down on a Shaka Bros burger, we swear the scenery will make you feel like you’re in the centre of a major city.
Governors Bay Hotel
52 Main Road, Governors Bay
A short jaunt outside of the city centre will take you to the Ōtoromiro Hotel, but the scenery will make you feel like you’re on a bonafide getaway. Enjoy the sun soaked deck with vast waterfront views and the Port Hills, or relax on the lawn furniture set amongst the surrounding native trees and rose garden.
2 Rue Jolie, Banks Peninsula
This gem is a bit of a drive from Christchurch, but we couldn’t resist adding it as a go-to outdoor dining destination. At Ma Maison, you come for the waterfront views, but stay for the glorious seafood and fresh produce, sourced locally whenever possible. You’ll be glad you made the trip.
Want more of our favourite Christchurch recs? Check out how we’d spend 48 hours in the Garden City.
More Christchurch & Canterbury Stories
9 New Discoveries in Ōtautahi
Low and Slow from Christchurch to Tokyo
Shop Feel-Good Fits With 11 Sustainable NZ Clothing Brands
This is feel-good clothing in more than one way.
The Modern Mess
Neat Christchurch & Canterbury Places
Heading out of the city centre and into the suburbs, you’ll pass by many a corner store, visible from multiple approaches and stocked with essential items.
Old School Collective
This collective of lifestyle businesses in North Canterbury has turned a 140-year-old school into a dream destination just north of Christchurch.
J Friend & Co
From time to time, it’s what something isn’t that makes it so special. That’s definitely the case with Christchurch honey business, J Friend & Co.
Red Eight Café at Portstone
Red Eight, the much-loved Kaiapoi café, has blossomed in a new spot at the picturesque Portstone Garden Centre.
The Monday Room
The way this restaurant changes constantly yet simultaneously remains a longtime local favourite speaks to just how special it is.