After a magical couple of days in Kaikoura, we were once again back in our bus and heading along to the beautiful city Christchurch. En route to the city we made a beeline for the beautiful port town of Lyttleton, where rows of paint box-bright roofs dotted the mountainous skyline, and the town overlooked the boats and harbour.
Although we didn’t stay in town long, we parked up and set out for a stretch and quick drink at the uber cool Japanese inspired bar and restaurant, Super. After sipping on iced chocolate and some of their incredible cocktails, we were back on the homeward straight to Christchurch, just as the sun started to go down…
The next morning we woke up bright and early, with an agenda filled with everything from an open bus tour (the best way to see a city if you’re tight for time) and a visit to a handful of their iconic coffee shops. With the city reminding me of everywhere from San Francisco with the tramways, Brooklyn with it’s urban nods and Los Angeles with the vast scapes of open land contrasted with city and mountains- everything felt familiar and new at the same time, with certain elements of the city naturally being unmistakably Christchurch.
Having learnt about the cities history and the tragedy of recent earthquakes, none of us we were really sure what to expect- but seeing the cities recovery and rebuilding process and the initiative and community around it was nothing short of inspiring. With old building facades kept in tact, and a new Gap Filler project aiming to regenerate areas of the city affected by the earthquake, it felt like such an awe inspiring project (and we all particularly loved the Dance O Mat and giant Pacman) and one that made me fall in love with the city even more.
So, to round up just a handful of the brilliant things we saw and did in the city- I thought I’d pop together another little guide with a few notes on places not to miss. It’s such an inspiring place, and I’m sure you’ll spot plenty more en route and popping up soon…
Is any trip to Christchurch complete without a visit to the iconic C1 Espresso? Housed in an old postal office (or, y’know wannabe Wes Anderson film set)- this spot is so much more than just a coffee shop. Boasting one of the most exciting and delicious menus I’ve seen (cakes included)- C1 should be top of your list. With the curly fries shooting down old pneumatic tube delivery systems, it’s exciting even if all you fancy are a portion of fries.
Situated in the centre of town, this little spot is the perfect place for afternoon coffee after a morning of surfing the inner city shops. With dreamy drinks (interiors to boot) and amazing homemade cakes- it’s a pretty heavenly little spot (thanks KLV for the nod)!
If fine dining is your thing, then look no further than the wonderful people at Inati. Fusing chefs table dining experiences with unique sharing plates, this spot is seriously special and unlike anywhere I’ve ever been before. Although not ideal if you’re a little fussy, the chefs are willing to accommodate various needs and have some of the most exciting dishes out there (including their infamous beouf-nut- a.k.a beef donut).
Oh THIS PLACE. Stumbling across here after having it on our to-visit lists, we couldn’t have been more excited to try their gelato on a hot afternoon. Opting for hokey pokey, it was some of the most delicious gelato I’ve tried, and their flavour selection is second to none. Y SO FAR?
Situated on the high street, this amazing burger joint and bar has found new digs on the high street, and with their buzzing bar and outdoors eating scene, it’s also a hugely vibrant part of the community and amazing for a delicious meal out.
If the cities vast amount of street art isn’t quite enough to whet your creative palette, then may I highly recommend a visit to the Christchurch Art Gallery. As exciting from the outside as it is in (at night you can spot their incredible neons), this place is home to some incredible classic and contemporary pieces.
Opened as part of the cities rebuild, you don’t have to be religious to appreciate the beauty of Christchurch’s Cardboard Cathedral in the city centre. Initially opened to act as ‘a temporary cathedral that could also host concerts and civic events’, it’s quickly become one of the most exciting and interesting elements in the city, for far more than just it’s architecture.
Although not exactly a hidden gem, this street, built in Spanish Mission style- is one of the prettiest spots in the city. With a parade of independent shops and cafes, it’s the perfect place to sit outside on a sunny day and watch the trams go by (if you’re an early nana like me)!
Next to C1 Espresso lives the gorgeous Alice Cinema- arguably one of the coolest cinemas I’ve ever been to. Not only do they show independent and new releases, but inside they also hold host to a selection of nearly every DVD known to man and aims to cater to your every filmic need and share the best cinema has to offer.
A brand totally unheard of by yours truly until this trip, Ruby is a gorgeous street-style inspired brand based solely in New Zealand. With some seriously gorgeous designs (including jewellery and accessories)- if you happen to spot one on your travels I highly recommend popping by.
A little family owned boutique in the centre of town, Infinite/Definite is one of the coolest men’s and women’s street wear brands I’ve come across. With brands curated from New Zealand, Australia and other parts of the world- every brand in here felt like a cool new discovery (and they also had some amazing home accessories too)!
Literally SHUT THE FRONT DOOR- because I think we’ve found one of the best home ware shops out there. Whether you’re after gorgeous stationery (is that ever not me?), scatter cushions, framed prints or even gorgeous Kiwi beauty brands- this little store has it all. With a handful around NZ, I highly recommend taking note.
Another one for any stationery fiends out there, Pepa was a real highlight on the shopping front for me in New Zealand. Tucked away in the Arts Centre, Pepa is not only a beautiful design store, but has everything from wall hangings, greetings cards (that you’ll also love to frame) and more independent stationery brands than you can shake a fountain pen at. Totally dreamy!