185 Port Hills Christchurch Graeme Murray

Christchurch - New Zealand

Creative chefs, superb wines and a host of arts, retail and cultural projects are all reasons to drop into this South Island bastion of Englishness, says James Williams

Travel Time 23hrs 50min

Why go?

With green rolling hills and the South Pacific on its doorstep, Christchurch has long been an ideal base for seeing New Zealand’s Canterbury region. Yet a bounty of food, culture and history can be found within its limits, too. A large-scale regeneration is taking shape following the major earthquake of eight years ago, and the proliferation of new restaurants, pop-ups and food trucks are testament to the city’s can-do attitude. February and March see the perfect weather conditions for eating and drinking alfresco and enjoying some of the 40 safe swimming beaches within an hour’s drive of the city.

What to do

Some 70 per cent of the Central Business District is undergoing a makeover, and walking tours from Walk Christchurch http://www.walkchristchurch.nz demonstrate the city’s resilience, guiding you from pre-colonial history to new landmarks such as the Cardboard Cathedral designed by architect Shigeru Ban. Street-art tours from Watch This Space http://www.watchthisspace.org.... give context to a scene flourishing amid vacant lots and exposed buildings. Not everything is here to stay though – a popular shipping container mall is being replaced by the sparkly new Riverside development, opening this year. It will host a daily farmers’ market with artisan food vendors adjoined by lanes bristling with upmarket boutiques. From here it’s an easy stroll past the Edwardian punts on the River Avon to the Botanic Gardens. Cool off beside the Peacock Fountain, and see the English oak that marks the foundation of the park, 150 years ago. Almost as old is Canterbury Museum http://www.canterburymuseum.co... with its ongoing Quake City exhibition, which holds the Cathedral spire and railway station clock. The Arts Centre http://www.artscentre.org.nz hosts outdoor movie nights, a theatre, craft shops and food stalls amid 23 heritage buildings.

Where to stay

Named after an early immigrant ship, The George 00 64 3379 4560, http://www.thegeorge.com welcomes all-comers to its privileged location overlooking Hagley Park and the River Avon. Stylish, understated rooms, two restaurants and an equal staff-to-guest ratio ensure a steady stream of visitors. Nearby is a new promenade dotted with artworks. Suites-only Heritage Hotel 00 64 3983 4800, http://www.heritagehotels.co.n... dates from 1913 and features well-appointed digs, a gym, sauna and spa pool. A Christchurch institution, Eliza’s 00 64 3366 8584, http://www.elizas.co.nz oozes tradition, from its old-world decor to its high teas. Rooms all come with individual touches, from roll-top baths to sleigh beds.

Where to eat and drink

New Zealand claims to have invented the flat white (a fact Australia might well debate). Get yours at C1 Espresso http://www.c1espresso.co.nz set in the art deco former central post office. The airy venue is an excellent, relaxed spot for breakfast. Provenance-obsessed Dux Dine 00 64 3348 1436, http://www.duxdine.co.nz occupies a historic station master’s villa, and its plates of South Island hapuku, gurnard and tarakihi all go down well with local wines and craft beers. Run by chef David Nicol, Original Sin 00 64 3595 5330, http://www.originalsin.co.nz is a decadent dining den complete with moody lighting and a painting of Adam and Eve behind the bar. The varied menu features twists on local lamb and Cloudy Bay clams. And at restaurant Tramway 00 64 3366 7830 you can tuck into a four-course tasting menu while being whisked serenely through the city on an old tram. Twenty Seven Steps 00 64 3366 2727, http://www.twentysevensteps.co... has sophisticated takes on meaty comfort dishes. It’s located on famously pretty New Regent Street, classily lined with 1930s Spanish mission-style buildings. Friday sees street-food trucks mass on Cathedral Square from 11am till 9pm, and for the latest burgers, pizza and ramen, head to Little High Eatery 00 64 21 0208 4444, http://www.littlehigh.co.nz – a collection of small, family-run outlets with shared seating.

Time running out?

Christchurch is pretty flat, so for a bird’s eye view of the city, catch the Christchurch Gondola into the spectacular Port Hills – a remnant of the Lyttelton volcano.


Travel Information

Travel Information

Currency is the New Zealand dollar (NZD). Time is 13 hours ahead of GMT. Flight time from London is 23.5 hours. The cost to carbon offset is £39.67. Visit http://www.climatecare.org for more details.

Getting There

Singapore Airlines has daily flights from London Heathrow to Christchurch via Singapore. http://www.singaporeair.com
Air New Zealand offers a route from Heathrow, stopping at Los Angeles and Auckland. http://www.airnewzealand.co.uk


ChristchurchNZ is the official website for Christchurch and Canterbury, and it is packed with tips and ideas to help you make the most of your visit to the region. http://www.christchurchnz.com

Average daily temperatures and rainfall

Min Temp1212107411246811
Max Temp132220171412111215171921

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