Christchurch Travel Guide

Filed under Destination Guides, featured, travel
Christchurch Heritage Tramways (Bernard Spragg)

by Lee Mylne

Change is the new norm for Christchurch, a city reinventing itself with pride and passion after the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. That makes it an exciting place to discover or re-discover.

New Zealand’s oldest city, Christchurch is now also a city renowned for its evolving story of urban redevelopment, achieved with innovation and creativity. A bold new plan to re-build a low-rise, recreation-friendly city has transformed the South Island gateway, while still retaining the English-style charm for which it is renowned.

Home to 400,000 people, Christchurch is New Zealand’s ‘garden city’, set on the sprawling patchwork of the Canterbury Plains. Innovative architecture, vibrant street art and pop-up dining and shopping outlets haven given it a new look, while old favourites that escaped the devastation continue to appeal to visitors.

New attractions include the Transitional Cathedral, a “cardboard” stand-in for the neo-Gothic stone edifice that was once the symbol of the city.  Long-standing attractions such as punting on the Avon River or riding the historic tramway continue to entertain visitors.


Whatever your desired pace, Christchurch can provide the perfect day. Take it easy down by the river that winds through the city, or take to the ocean to swim with dolphins. Museums, galleries, rugby matches, innovative architecture and eye-popping street art…the South Island capital has it all.

Punting on the Avon

It’s oh-so-very-English, but punting on the Avon is a Christchurch tradition. Your boater-hatted punter will expertly wield the pole as you relax and enjoy the view of the Botanic Gardens as you glide by in comfort. Blankets and hot water bottles provided for chilly days!

The “Cardboard” Cathedral

One of the greatest losses to the 2011 earthquakes was the iconic stone Christchurch Cathedral, the symbol of the city. The resilient people of Christchurch now worship at the Transitional Cathedral in Latimer Square. Designed by Japanese architect Sigeru Ban, it is made predominantly of cardboard tubes.

Watch a rugby game   

Don your best red-and-black, and head to Christchurch Stadium in Addington to join up to 18,000 other fans to see the home rugby team, the Crusaders, hit the field. As well as Crusaders’ games, it’s also host to rugby union internationals featuring the All Blacks.

Hagley Park

A gorgeous 164ha green space in the heart of the city, Hagley Park is home to the Botanical Gardens and is particularly spectacular in autumn when the trees provide a blaze of colour. Kayaks and small boats are for hire on the banks of the Avon.

Ride the TranzAlpine rail

One of the world’s great scenic train journeys, the TranzAlpine snakes its way from Christchurch across the Canterbury Plains and through the rugged Arthur’s Pass to the old gold mining town of Greymouth on the west coast. The 446km round-trip journey makes a terrific day trip.    

International Antarctic Centre

Little Blue Penguins, an Antarctic snowstorm, and everything you ever wanted to know about Antarctica without going there are wrapped into one at this world-class exhibit. A free shuttle operates from the city and it’s right next to the airport if you have spare time between flights.

Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

A successful kiwi-breeding program, tuataras (New Zealand’s “living dinosaur”), the story of New Zealand from its separation from Gondwanaland, and a Maori cultural experience make this a top day out. The Ko Tāne Living Māori Village includes a hangi dinner cooked in an earth oven.

The Air Force Museum

Test your piloting skills on a Mosquito flight simulator over the “French countryside” or “Norwegian fiords”. Located on the site of the former Royal New Zealand Air Force Base at Wigram, this free museum has more than 30 historic aircraft, and hands-on exhibitions.

Orana Wildlife Park

New Zealand’s only open-range zoo is home to giraffes, tigers, white rhinos, lions and gorillas (the only ones in the country), but what you’ll really want to see is a kiwi. You can see these extraordinary and threatened flightless birds in the nocturnal house.

A day trip to Akaroa

The French colonial village of Akaroa, about 90 minutes drive from Christchurch on Banks Peninsula, is studded with galleries, boutiques and cafes. Brave the cold water of Akaroa Harbour to swim with the rare Hector’s dolphins, or visit the zany, colourful Giants House and sculpture garden.  


All major hotels have now reopened after post-earthquake upgrades in the past five years, ensuring that accommodation options in Christchurch are now among the best in New Zealand. From intimate boutique-style hotels and luxury lodges to family-friendly motels and tech-smart business hotels, there’s plenty to choose from.

Hotel Montreal

On the edge of Hagley Park, this European-style boutique hotel overlooks Cramer Square. The 25 guest rooms and family suites all have balconies. Head to the Polo Bar for a drink and Argentinian share plates, or try your hand at croquet in the garden.  

The George Christchurch

Exclusive and elegant, this 53-room luxury boutique hotel has a one-to-one staff/guest ratio, prides itself on personal service and attention to detail, and has a plethora of awards to its name. And they’ll even give you a teddy bear (called George, of course) to take home.

Heritage Hotel Christchurch

A grand hotel in all senses, the Heritage is located in the Old Government Building (1913), a building of “national significance” on Cathedral Square. It has one, two and three-bedroom self-contained apartment suites. A heated indoor lap pool is one of the bonuses of staying here.

Novotel Christchurch

Popular with business travellers, this 154-room hotel tower has all mod-cons including high speed wi-fi and work spaces. Executive rooms have views of the Southern Alps. This is a great location, on Cathedral Square, and the Heritage Tramway runs past the front door.

Peppers Clearwater Resort

Fancy a round of golf or some fly-fishing? Set on the edge of Lake Kaikainui, 13km from the city centre, this golf resort has standard hotel rooms, suites and two-bedroom terrace apartments. The championship golf course was designed by Sir Bob Charles. There’s also a day spa.

The Towers on the Park

With its distinctive turrets, Towers on the Park has 34 modern motel-style studios and suites, and is a good choice for families (cots and highchairs available) and business travellers. Bordering Hagley Park, there’s plenty of space for kids to run and some studios have kitchenettes.

Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch

Just a block from Cathedral Square, this large modern hotel has 171 rooms and suites, beautifully set up for business travellers with ergonomic furniture and high speed wi-fi, and 24 hour room service. In-room iPod docks, and a gym and sauna help with relaxation.

The Rydges Latimer Christchurch

A complete rebuild after the earthquakes has this luxury hotel looking better than ever. Overlooking Latimer Square, the hotel has 138 rooms and a penthouse suite with views of the Southern Alps, as well as the city’s largest conference centre, for up to 500 delegates.

Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments

Among the newest accommodation in Christchurch, Terra Vive has 13 smart and spacious studios and one and two-bedroom apartments, all decorated in rich earthy tones and with indoor/outdoor balcony spaces or courtyards. Top of the range are the deluxe suites. Some have kitchenettes.

Otahuna Lodge

Built in 1895, this grand Victorian mansion has been superbly transformed into one of New Zealand’s most exclusive luxury lodges, set in expansive manicured gardens. Seven elegant suites have ornate fireplaces, decadently deep bathtubs and top-shelf toiletries. There’s a pool, Jacuzzi and tennis court.


Dining out in Christchurch took a new turn after the earthquakes, and there are now more places to eat and drink than there were before!  As well as inner-city dining, new restaurants and cafes have sprung up in suburbs such as Addington, Sumner, Harewood, Sydenham, Merivale and Ferrymead.


New Zealand’s first indigenous café is putting Maori kai (food) on the table. Kakano – it means “seed” in Maori – has a menu strong on ingredients traditionally used in Maori cooking, including plants and herbs grown from heritage seed varieties. Friday night is hangi and movie night.


Named New Zealand’s Best Restaurant 2015 by Cuisine magazine, Roots is a degustation dining experience worth heading to the port town of Lyttleton, about 12km from the city centre, for. Five, eight and 12 course menus change daily, but are likely to include wild venison.

C1 Espresso Café

Delivery of your meal through a pneumatic tube system adds a bit of novelty value to dining in this friendly café. Housed in the 1930s post office building, they serve up sliders, fries, hearty breakfasts – and excellent coffee – in a retro atmosphere.

Curator’s House

The mock Tudor former Botanic Gardens’ curator’s house is now a Spanish restaurant, serving up tapas and traditional dishes including paella and Cordero Asado (slow-roasted alpine lamb shoulder), and those with local flavour such as Cloudy Bay clams. The garden produces fresh vegetables for the kitchen.

Twenty Seven Steps

Yes, count ‘em! Head upstairs for another post-earthquake success story. Overlooking New England Street, this chic modern bistro delivers from a European style menu using locally-sourced beef, venison and shellfish.  Changing seasonally, dishes look almost too good to eat but don’t let that stop you.


Widely regarded as one of New Zealand’s best contemporary restaurants, Pescatore takes a minimalist approach. Seasonal menus come with a wine list that Wine Specatator magazine judged one of the best in the world. And it’s a fabulous location overlooking Hagley Park, in The George hotel.  


Authentic Thai cuisine – a combination of street food and traditional dishes – in a modern, exotically-styled restaurant.  Sizzling sates, flame-grilled duck, beef or seafood dishes, curries and wok dishes all come fast, with some made for sharing. There’s an extensive cocktail list too.

Cook ’n’ with Gas

Celebrity chef Bruce Griffiths runs this award-winning bistro, set in an 1860s villa. It’s been part of the Christchurch dining scene for 16 years, serving up meaty mains and delicious desserts. The Astro Lounge is a more casual, outdoor part of the business.

Pot Sticker Dumpling Bar

The most delicious dumplings in town come from the kitchens of twin Shanghai-style dumpling bars of the same name. One is on Colombo St, Sydenham, the other on Poplar Lane in the city centre. These hand-made morsels have names like Little Pig’n’Chive and Cluckin’ Good Coriander.

Mitchelli’s Café Rinato

Another café that has relocated and reimagined itself in the post-earthquake world, Mitchelli’s new premises in the Cassels emporium at Woolston also recycles some of what was salvageable from its former home.  Big breakfasts, brunch, pizza and pasta are the staples here.


Christchurch’s always buzzing nightlife has undergone a transformation, with pop-up bars alongside old favourites. Head to Stranges Lane (at the corner of Lichfield and Manchester Streets), or the growing nightlife strip of St Asaph Street. Victoria Street is also home to some cool bars – and don’t forget the suburban scene too.  

Shop Eight

Fitted out using materials salvaged from post-earthquake demolitions, this intimate space offers a drinks menu of only New Zealand labels, with share-plates to graze on. Local wines and New Zealand craft beers are featured, including those from the Harrington’s and Tuatara labels.

Dux Central

A one-stop destination for a night out, Dux Central encompasses The Brew Bar (a London-pub style venue offering around 180 different beers), The Emerald Room for wine buffs (a choice of 70 labels) and Upper Dux, for live music and a heady cocktail list.

The Cuban

With more than 60 rums on the drinks list, and more than a few rum-infused cocktails, this is a little piece of Old Havana, on the burgeoning nightlife strip of St Asaph Street, in the city heart.  Try the Cuba Laga (lager) too.

Lyttelton Coffee Company

Is this the best coffee in town? Many think so, and the high ceilings, exposed brick walls and warm atmosphere have them coming in droves.  One of the greatest draws is the Lyttelton Coffee Company beans (also used in other city cafes). Find them in London Street.

Cassels & Sons’ Brewery

Brewed on-site, there are up to 12 brews available year-round, with seasonal tastes as well. The craft brews include One PA, Light Owl, Pilsner, Dunk Ale, and real ales including Best Bitter, Alchemist and Milk Stout.  Try it with their thin-crust pizza.

Khao San Road Bar

A corner bar, attached to the Spice Paragon restaurant in the city centre, Khao San Road Bar is a smart, if dark, place for a drink and a nibble.  Craft brews, wines and cocktails are all on offer. Try the Thai Smile.


This place, in the Stranges Lane nightclub precinct, celebrates New Orleans, with Wild Turkey cocktails (try the Sazerac), soul food (fried chicken and crab, and po’boys), live music, American beer and cocktails…but the wine is nearly exclusively from New Zealand.

WHET Drinking Room

Inside, this intimate space is dimly-lit and sophisticated, with leather booths and low chairs; outside there’s a terrace perfect for balmy Christchurch summer nights.  Serious about your spirits? WHET has around 40 whiskeys and 40 imported gins to choose from, along with a similar number of craft beers.

The Monday Room

Don’t like Mondays? You will after a night out at this dark and cosy bar, with its pressed metal ceilings and extensive wine and cocktail list (including dessert cocktails). Outdoors, there’s a modern covered area with a log fire (and yes, you can also smoke there).

Hurunui Hotel

A little more than an hour’s drive north of Christchurch, the landmark Hurunui Hotel is New Zealand’s oldest pub.  Built in 1868 to accommodate weary drovers, the hotel was restored in 1979 and is once again a popular watering hole.


Among the city’s emerging areas are the Spanish Mission-style New Regent Street shopping mall and the innovative Re:START shopping precinct, built from brightly coloured shipping containers after the earthquakes, and home to around 40 shops.  The suburuban Westfield Riccarton is the largest mall in the South Island.

The Colombo

In the industrial area of Sydenham – still only five minutes walk from the CBD – this shopping and entertainment hub includes fashion, beauty and homeware boutiques, as well as an arts cinema, European-style bars, and plenty of places to eat. The Gallery showcases local artists.

The Tannery

Focussing on fashion, this mall offers a large range of quality Kiwi-made clothing from top labels. This is the place to come for men’s and women’s designer gear, accessories, shoes, jewellery, and children’s and baby clothes.  The old tannery building is worth a look on its own.


Created as a temporary fixture in the post-earthquake environment, Re:START container mall in the heart of the city has become a symbol of Christchurch’s rebirth. It’s fun, colourful and funky, with speciality shops and eateries housed in brightly painted shipping containers, surrounding the iconic Ballantynes Department Store.


Bargain-hunters should head to the South Island’s only outlet centre with more than 60 stores. You will find labels like Esprit, Rip Curl, Bendon, Jeans West, Rodd & Gunn, Hallensteins and Nicholas Jermyn, alongside sports brands such as Adidas, Puma and Canterbury and everything from shoes to sunglasses.

Christchurch City Markets 

Held Friday to Sunday during winter (more often in summer) these markets showcase New Zealand products, including greenstone (New Zealand jade) and paua jewellery, merino wool gloves and hats, sheepskins, alpaca clothing, and more. They are held at the Re:START Mall.

Untouched World

Sustainable, fashionable clothing for men and women, made in New Zealand, this brand is the first in the world to be recognised by the United Nations for sustainability. Untouched World specialises in knitwear and machine-washable merino wool products.  

Christchurch Farmers Markets

Under large shady trees in the gardens of historic Riccarton House, these markets are held every Saturday morning. Goods on offer include organic fruit and vegetables, artisan breads, local wines and ales, Spanish chorizo, cheeses, macaroons, olive oil, jams and preserves, baked goods and more.

The Riccarton Market

The South Island’s largest outdoor market, with more than 300 stalls, is held every Sunday from 9am-2pm, at the Riccarton Racecourse and is a great spot to pick up a souvenir from the region. There’s also a large children’s entertainment area, buskers, food and more.

SHE Universe Chocolate & Dessert Bar

Locally-made handcrafted chocolate truffles, gourmet chocolates and delectable desserts are likely to tempt even the most strong-willed. Free tastings are offered, and the steaming hot chocolate and mochas will warm you up on a chilly day.  

Smith’s Bookshop

Established in 1894, Smith’s Bookshop is Christchurch’s only dealer in antiquarian, rare and unusual books. It also sells a good range of new and second books, operates a post office shop and has books for sale online.  Quite simply, bookworm heaven. Go in for a browse.


The great outdoors beckons from all points in Canterbury, and however you want to explore, nothing is more than a couple of hours drive from Christchurch. Adrenalin junkies will be in their element with jet-boating and white water rafting, but there are also more gentle pursuits to keep the blood pumping.

Play a round of golf

Teeing off means choosing from one of 18 golf courses around the city – or 40 in the Canterbury region. Almost every town has its own course, dotted along the coast, spread across the patchwork plains, and against the backdrop of the spectacular Southern Alps.

Snow sports

Canterbury’s largest ski area, Mt Hutt, is 90 minutes’ drive from Christchurch and in 2015 was named New Zealand’s best ski resort at the World Ski Awards. With 13 ski areas, there’s skiing to suit everyone from beginners to experts.  Heli-skiing is also available.

On yer bike

Christchurch’s combination of flat easy terrain in the city, and the network of 10 scenic road and off-road trails up and around the Port Hills, is a drawcard for keen cyclists. In the city, you can pedal around Hagley Park’s flat 5km of tracks.

White Water Rafting

Grade 5 rapids await the intrepid on a rafting trip with Rangitata Rafts. About 75 minutes drive to Peel Forest, the Rangitata River provides an adrenalin-pumping day trip. Rangitata Rafts is the only operator on this stretch of river, the closest grade five rafting to Christchurch.

Segway Tours

Christchurch is a flat city, ideal for riding a Segway. Two-hour tours take in the main sights. The CBD tour includes post-earthquake rebuilding and response, a good way to hear about this major event in the city’s history. Historical tours visit Riccarton House, Mona Vale and Hagley Park.

Horse trekking

Waimak River Horse Treks offers horse or pony treks for all ages and abilities. A leisurely one-hour river ride is ideal for first-timers and each trek takes in farmland, woodlands, river crossings and great views of the Southern Alps. Two hour rides also available.


Hold tight for some 360-degree spins on the spectacular braided Waimakariri River on a jetboating adventure. About an hour’s drive from Christchurch, this is a thrilling experience that takes you into the Waimakariri canyon in the foothills of the Southern Alps.

Adrenalin Forest

Adrenalin Forest aerial obstacle courses include challenges across six levels, with obstacles starting at 1 metre above the ground. Zip-lining, barrels, wings and bridges provide the challenges. As long as you are taller than 1.3 metres, it’s suitable for most ages and fitness levels. 

Velocity Karts

Bexley Reserve is home to this amazing experience. Designed in New Zealand, the wind-powered blokart landyachts or battery-powered driftkarts will soon have you skimming across the purpose-built kart tracks in the reserve as you learn the art of this sail sport.

Hit the beaches

Sumner is a lovely sandy beach that has long been a local favourite for surfing and swimming. About 10km from the city centre, the 400-metre stretch of sand meets the headland of Cave Rock to the east. Nearby Scarborough and Taylors Mistake are popular with surfers.


Exposed city walls are covered with street art, installations are springing up around the city centre, and Canterbury’s rich artistic lode is on show in galleries and studios throughout the region. Christchurch people value their arts sector, recording New Zealand’s second highest levels of attendance at performing arts events.

Isaac Theatre Royal

The Isaac Theatre Royal is Christchurch’s major performing arts venue, and has undergone a NZ$40 million rebuild after the earthquakes. Its gorgeous ornate façade has been preserved, and it is once again hosting international touring acts, musicals, concerts, ballet, film festivals and recitals.

Christchurch Art Gallery

Closed for five years after the earthquakes, the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu is home to one of New Zealand’s major art collections, and presents a programme of Canterbury, New Zealand and international exhibitions. Free guided tours run daily. Well worth a look.

The Centre of Contemporary Art

Christchurch’s showcase for contemporary art, CoCA is housed in a modernist building well suited to it on Gloucester St. Sometimes provocative, sometimes reactionary, it is always interesting. The gallery is free and is a must-see for lovers of contemporary art. 

185 Empty Chairs

One of the most moving art installations in the city is 185 Empty Chairs, a memorial to those killed in the earthquakes. The chairs – everything from rocking chairs to highchairs and baby carseats – are painted white and set in row, each representing a lost soul.

Canterbury Museum

The offerings from this excellent regional museum got even better with the addition of the dramatic interactive new Quake City exhibition, which aims to inform and educate visitors about the Canterbury earthquakes.

Christchurch Symphony Orchestra

Classical music buffs are presented with a full concert series program, with Masterworks, collaborations with other orchestras, an Artist Series, Baroque and more popular themes, along with the Last Night of the Proms. Concerts are held at the Isaac Theatre Royal and other venues.

Christchurch Arts Centre

One of New Zealand’s most significant heritage buildings, devastated by the earthquakes, the Arts Centre is rebuilding and regrouping. While work continues, some parts have already re-opened, including the Free Theatre and Rutherford’s Den, a celebration of the Kiwi scientist who split the atom.  

Little River Gallery

The Little River Gallery, on the road to Akaroa on Banks Peninsula, is a contemporary space showcasing emerging local talent. This is the place you might find that keepsake of New Zealand and Maori culture – or something more substantial to take home.

The Court Theatre

Take in a show at The Court Theatre, in its new home in Addington. Christchurch’s full-time professional theatre company presents a season of modern international theatre, New Zealand works, and classics.  On Friday and Saturday nights, head along to the improv comedy show “Scared Scriptless”.


Christchurch hosts a busy calendar of festivals year-round, many of them focussed on music, wine and food, and the arts. Summer is the best time to visit for festival fun, and there’s always something for all ages and plenty of free events, day or night.  

January: World Buskers Festival

More than 650 shows by 67 performers over 11 days and nights offer music, theatre, circus, cabaret, acrobats, burlesque and more. Hagley Park becomes Buskers Park, with four stages set up to entertain the crowds who flock to see the diversity of talent on show.

February/March: Lansdowne Summer Festival

At the heart of this annual classical music and opera festival is “Narropera”, a combination of music and narration, presented in the beautiful Golden Room of Lansdowne House. Take a picnic to have in the grounds before heading in to soak up Mozart and Strauss.

May: New Zealand International Jazz & Blues Festival

Emerging artists, local legends and international musicians come together for this annual event providing a great chance to hear New Zealand artists alongside their international counterparts. Past performers have included Ramsey Lewis, James Morrison, Hank Marvin, and Kiwi artists Naomi Fergusson, Nathan Haines, and Kevin Field.

August/September: Christchurch Arts Festival

A biennial event (next in 2017) showcasing leading New Zealand artists and performers across a diverse range of genres, including cabaret, magic, theatre, dance, classical and contemporary music, visual art and comedy. Held over four weeks, the program highlights Christchurch’s creativity and energy.

September/October: Body Festival

New Zealand’s dancing talent is on show at this annual festival of dance and physical theatre. From professional to amateur productions, the program is packed with dance, theatre, burlesque, workshops and other events. Some events are free, and most are under NZ$30.

September/October: New Zealand Ice Fest

The frozen continent to New Zealand’s south, Antarctica is the focus of this biennial festival (next in 2016), highlighting research, science, environmental and other issues. With Christchurch as a gateway to Antarctica, the festival uses creative and interactive experiences to increase public awareness of its importance.

October:  Festival of Transitional Architecture

Emerging from the rubble of Christchurch’s city heart after the earthquakes, FESTA looks at pioneering approaches to sustainable design – of which the Transitional Cathedral is one. It encourages the people of Christchurch to think about the future and what they want in the remaking of their city.

November: New Zealand Cup and Show Week

Racing and fashion, all wrapped up in a week of events that have Christchurch buzzing. The major race day is the Christchurch Casino NZ Cup and New Zealand Bloodstock 1000 Guineas Day at Riccarton Park Racecourse but the whole town is alive with action this week.

December: Christchurch/South Island Wine & Food Festival

One of the leading wine and food events in New Zealand, this festival sees more than 40 vineyards present their wines, with top chefs plating up their best dishes to match. Entertainment includes cooking masterclasses, wine seminars and some of New Zealand’s top musical talents.

December-April: Spectrum

Transforming 10 blank city walls and another seven in an exhibition space at the YMCA, huge murals are created by 17 artists from New Zealand and around the world during this four-month long street art festival. And it’s free.


Canterbury’s wine country is within easy reach of Christchurch. To the north is the Waipara Valley, with nine wineries producing Pinot Noir, Riesling, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. On Banks Peninsula, the Selwyn Food and Wine Trail provides plenty of places to linger on a day trip to Akaroa.  

Pegasus Bay

The Donaldson family’s Pegasus Bay Winery is one of the pioneers of Canterbury winemaking, and rates as the best in the region. The restaurant at the vineyard, which overlooks a wetland, won the title of New Zealand’s best winery restaurant for five consecutive years.

Black Estate

Established in 1994, with stunning views of the surrounding countryside, Black Estate is about 6km north of Waipara township. It is highly regarded for its organic wines, producing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Reisling. The Tasting Room & Eatery follows a similar philosophy.

Waipara Hills

A beautiful stone building, set in landscaped gardens with views to the Teviotdale Hills, houses the Waipara Hills winery, cellar door and bistro. Established in 2001, Waipara Hills offers an award-winning range specialising in aromatics: Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

Waipara Springs

Planted in the early 1980s, these are some of the Waipara Valley’s oldest vines, bringing a depth and intensity to the wines, which include Riesling, Sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Pinot noir and Merlot, under both the Waipara Springs and Premo labels.

Bentwood Wines

One of New Zealand’s smallest commercial vineyards, Bentwood produces award-winning Pinot Blanc, Gewurtztraminer and Pinot Nour. Taste them while enjoying views of the vineyard and Southern Alps. You’ll find it about 5km from the village of Tai Tapu on the road between Christchurch and Akaroa.

Torlesse Wines

Based at Waipara Village, 60km north of Christchurch, Torlesse uses only Waipara grapes to make their range of Sauvignon blanc, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Rose, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Merlot wines.  Stop in and chat to the winemakers at the cellar door.

Fiddler’s Green

Looking north to Mt Donald across the vineyards, the Mediterranean style cellar door at Fiddler’s Green is the perfect spot to taste Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris.  Overlooking the Waipara River, it is about 55km north of Christchurch.

Mt Beautiful Wine Tasting Room

Located in central Cheviot, the Mt Beautiful Tasting Room offers five estate-grown varietals: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir. Taste at the long, concrete slab counter or at one of the gorgeous handcrafted wooden tables. Winemaker Sam Weaver creates artisan, old-world style wines.

Georges Road Wines

Award-winning Syrah, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Rose and Noble Riesling come out of this single vineyard in the Waipara Valley, overseen by owner/winemaker Kirk Bray. The cellar door is open by appointment only.

Terrace Edge
This family-run winery and olive grove is an idyllic place to stop for a while. As well as aromatics, the vineyard produces Pinot Noir, St Laurent, Albarino and Syrah (a favoured variety here). Tasting tours will give you a greater insight into the wine industry.


Getting under Christchurch’s skin and learning what drives this city as it reinvents itself is not going to happen in a day.  But for a perfect day out in the “garden city”, combine some long-time favourites with a look at what’s new.


After breakfast, head out from your hotel and take a brisk walk in Hagley Park to blow the cobwebs away. If it’s autumn, you’ll be dazzled by the colours of the foliage. Pick up a coffee at one of the pop-up cafes in the Re:START Mall on your way.


Punting on the Avon is a must while in Christchurch.  Sit back and relax while your boatman wields the pole and you glide down the river, watching the ducks. When you return, take a stroll through the Botanic Gardens.


Stop in to the Canterbury Museum to get a sense of what this city and surrounding region is all about.  Don’t miss some of the quirky displays, like Fred and Myrtle’s Paua Shell House. The museum’s interactive Quake City exhibit in the Re:START Mall is also a must.


Grab a quick bite to eat at C1 Espresso Café, where your sliders and fries will arrive via a pneumatic tube system, or at the yummy Pot Sticker Dumpling Bar in Poplar Lane.  The Re:START Mall also offers plenty of cheap and cheerful options.


Wander past the ruins of the former Cathedral to the new Transition Cathedral (also known as the “Cardboard” Cathedral) and pop inside for a look. On the next block, the moving art installation 185 Empty Chairs pays tribute to the lives lost in the earthquakes.


Jump on the free shuttle from the city (outside the Canterbury Museum) to the International Antarctic Centre, to learn more about the frozen continent to New Zealand’s south. Admire the Little Blue Penguins, learn the explorers’ stories, and take a ‘cruise’ in the 4D Extreme Theatre.


Meet some true kiwis (of the feathered kind), along with the “living dinosaur” – a tuatara – at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. Book ahead to stay on for the Ko Tāne Living Māori Village experience, which includes a hangi dinner.


Dining out in Christchurch offers a plethora of options. To check out some of New Zealand’s top restaurants, head out of town to Roots in Lyttelton, or to Pescatore in The George hotel in the city.


Nightcap? Head to Stranges Lane or St Asaph Street to check out Christchurch’s growing and lively nightlife scene. Choose from whiskey bars to live music venues or just sit back with a wine from one of the local labels.  

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