Experience the best of Christchurch

Wonderguide by

Amy Vivian-Neal

The Best of Christchurch

Christchurch, nicknamed the Garden City, combines urban regeneration with heritage, culture and exhilarating activity. My hometown and pride!

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Day Trips

Image - Castle Hill
Castle Hill
Amy:A favourite location for trampers, rock climbers and photographers. Castle Hill was also a filming location for the final battle scene for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Image - Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park
Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park
Amy:Mount Cook (known as Aoraki in Maori) is New Zealand’s tallest mountain, and the surrounding national park has some great hiking options as well as a breathtaking view over Lake Pukaki. During the winter, there are some excellent skiing opportunities within the region; in the summer, you can enjoy kayaking in the clear, glacial waters of the lake.
Image - Hanmer Springs
Hanmer Springs
Amy:Hammer Springs is one of the best hot spring towns in the South Island. Take a dip in the thermal pools or take in the beautiful natural scenery on the many hiking tracks around the town. In winter, it is a great place for skiing, snowboarding and ice-skating.
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Image - The Tannery
The Tannery
Amy:The Tannery is a European inspired shopping area filled with boutiques, cheesemonger and chocolate specialist shops. Can be on the pricier end but makes for a great lunching spot!
Image - The Crossing
The Crossing
Amy:The newest retail centre in Christchurch. Big name fashion brands can be found here.
Image - New Regent Street Precinct
New Regent Street Precinct
Amy:Fun and quirky is one way to describe New Regent Street. There lots of little shops, cafes and hidden restaurants (27 Steps being one of them!). The perfect spot to also see the tram drive past!
Image - Westfield Riccarton
Westfield Riccarton
Amy:Christchurch’s most popular mall, with over 100 shops, it’s easy to see why. This mall has everything, hair salons, a cinema, bookshops, fashion, homewares, cafes as well as 2 large food courts. Great for a rainy day but prepare yourself for the crowds!
Image - BNZ Centre
BNZ Centre
Amy:After the Christchurch Rebuild, this is one of the newer shopping areas in the city centre. With laneways and courtyards brimming with delicious food and designer brands, it’s quickly become a local favourite.
Image - The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora
The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora
Amy:The Arts Centre is a hub for arts, education, creativity and entrepreneurship in Christchurch. There’s also a beautiful lawn covered courtyard that’s perfect for relaxing with a book.
Image - Lyttelton Farmers Market
Lyttelton Farmers Market
Amy:Littleton is known as the quirkier more hippy side of Christchurch. There’s a farmers market on every Sunday from June to October, 10am to 1pm. Get there early to try the delish homemade cheeses and cakes before they sell out!
Image - The Palms
The Palms
Amy:One of the city’s smaller but beloved shopping malls. The best thing about the Palma is the cheap cinema. $10 for movie tickets isn’t bad at all!


Image - Little High Eatery
Little High Eatery
Amy:This is a high energy food court run by 8 family owned businesses. Fabulous place to dine out with friends or family.
Image - Christchurch Botanic Gardens
Christchurch Botanic Gardens
Amy:Christchurch is know as the Garden City so it’s a no brainer to check out what the city is most know for, the Botanic Gardens! Stunning all year around, lunch out in one of the many cafes or bring your own picnic, it’s a great place to sit back and relax!
Image - Alice Cinema & Film Specialists
Alice Cinema & Film Specialists
Amy:This is a fun and quirky cinema and movie rental shop. Even if you don’t intend on seeing a film, it’s worth going to see the interior of the shop! You can always pop in next door to C1 Expresso for your coffee fix!
Image - Godley Head
Godley Head
Amy:great walking tracks with spectator views of the harbour and the hills. Don’t forget to take a sunhat!
Image - Brockworth Street Art Gallery
Brockworth Street Art Gallery
Amy:Check out the city’s street art!
Image - Port Hills
Port Hills
Amy:Where else can you get a view of both Black Diamond Harbour and Christchurch City?
Image - Quail Island
Quail Island
Amy:A short ferry ride away from Littleton Harbour is the inhibited Quail Island. Rent a bike and see the whole island or take your time on the walking trails and enjoy the picturesque views.
Image - Lyttelton Harbour / Whakaraupo
Lyttelton Harbour / Whakaraupo
Amy:If you’re in Christchurch make sure to check out the city’s quirkier side, Littleton! This port town is filled with little unique shops, cafes and even quirkier pubs (Wunderbar being a local haunt). Make sure to stop at the Time Ball Station, an amazing piece of maritime history!


Whether you're a solo traveler or a family, there's a lot of fun to be had in Christchurch!

Image - Ballooning Canterbury
Ballooning Canterbury
Amy:If you’re after a truly awe-inspiring experience while visiting Christchurch and Canterbury, a hot air balloon ride is a must. There isn’t a better way to capture the beauty of the Canterbury Plains and the Southern Alps than by hot air balloon!
Image - Antigua Boatsheds Canoe Hire
Antigua Boatsheds Canoe Hire
Amy:Hire a canoe, paddle boat or historic row boat on the Avon River to see the beauty of Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Highly recommended during the summer months. Nothing beats the feeling of floating under a canopy of trees and having ducks swim past your canoe.
Image - New Brighton Surf Lifesaving Club
New Brighton Surf Lifesaving Club
Amy:The photo above doesn't do New Brighton Beach justice but it's one of the best places on the South Island for surfing!
Image - Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
Amy:Willowbank is a wildlife park and nature reserve. There’s the opportunity to see New Zealand’s iconic flightless bird, the kiwi as well as many more endemic animals. This is a great place for families with children.
Image - Quake City
Quake City
Amy:Come and learn about the 2011 Christchurch Earthquakes and Rebuild. It’s not as boring as it sounds, I promise! With lots of interactive displays, moving stories and some tongue-in-cheek humour, the team at Quake City have done a fantastic job with the permanent exhibition.
Image - TranzAlpine & Coastal Pacific: Christchurch Railway Station
TranzAlpine & Coastal Pacific: Christchurch Railway Station
Amy:The TranzAlpine Journey between Christchurch and Greymouth will set you back $199.30 but the views you’ll see on this journey are spectacular! See what New Zealand is really known for, its breathtaking beautiful natural scenery!
Image - Chill - Explore With Us, Urban Tours
Chill - Explore With Us, Urban Tours
Amy:Chill offers experiences ranging from bike hire to comfortable city tours where you can see as much as you want to. With vintage bikes with names such as Ron Burgandy, and Riccardo you are able to experience quirky coffee shops and get a look at the new developments of Christchurch in contrast to its older gothic buildings.
Image - Waimak River Riding Centre
Waimak River Riding Centre
Amy:Check out NZ’s spectacular nature on horseback!
Image - Skydiving Kiwis Dropzone
Skydiving Kiwis Dropzone
Amy:Skydiving is an iconic part of New Zealand. A popular activity amongst thrill seekers!
Image - Alpine Jet Thrills Limited - Braided Shallows
Alpine Jet Thrills Limited - Braided Shallows
Amy:Jet boating on the Waimak River is a popular activity with families. Have a blast and get soaked wet!
Image - Franz Josef Glacier
Franz Josef Glacier
Amy:At 12km Franz Josef Glacier is the longest NZ West Coast glacier. Take a guided ice walk or a heli-hike!
Image - The Court Theatre
The Court Theatre
Amy:Two words, Scared Scriptless. Get ready for a night of laughter!

Restaurants & Bars

Christchurch has so much to offer on the culinary front that one section wasn't enough!

Image - Little High Eatery
Little High Eatery
Amy:Little High is an awesome little pocket of family-run eateries to cater to everyone. There's burgers, Asian-fusion cuisine, coffee, pizza, south american cuisine and my favourite a Latin American bar. Margaritas anyone?
Image - The Lotus-Heart vegetarian restaurant
The Lotus-Heart vegetarian restaurant
Amy:From the moment you walk through the doors of The Lotus Heart, you are met with a sense of calm. With beautiful decor and lovely staff, this is a great spot to recharge. The Lotus Heart is all about conscious living and healthy eating – and is pure vegetarian, with raw food and vegan options. Try their Pondicherri Dosa, A lentil and rice dosa crepe filled with hot and spicy chutney.
Image - Pedro's House of Lamb
Pedro's House of Lamb
Amy:Pedro's has overcame many odds after the 2011 earthquake and has become an iconic part of Christchurch. They only do lamb but god they do it well! They serve slow cooked whole lamb shoulder with rosemary and garlic and potatoes. Their lamb is the most tender, falling off the bone lamb I have ever eaten!
Image - Smash Palace
Smash Palace
Amy:The original bus-converted-into-a-bar came into being after the 2011 earthquake and since then has become a local favourite. Grab a drink and take a seat outside. It doesn't matter where you're from, Smash Palace is a truly special place where everyone feels welcome and there’s nothing but the best vibes.
Image - Travelade Image
Strange's Lane
Amy:Home to four unique bar and restaurant offerings, Stranges Lane has something for everyone. It's a hidden gem and a hipster favourite. I love the atmosphere of this place!
Image - Fat Eddie's
Fat Eddie's
Amy:I love coming here for the jazz music. There's a big stage where different musicians play every night of the week. It's a great place for dancing the night away or people watching out on the balcony.
Image - Boo Radley's Food & Liquor
Boo Radley's Food & Liquor
Amy:This bar is hidden away but it's such a great find. The staff are really friendly, there's live music and it's home to the largest bourbon whisky collection in New Zealand. If whisky isn't your thing, there's also an extensive cocktail menu and really fun milkshakes too. The Caramel Maker Milkshake is delicious!
Image - Parlour
Amy:Hiding behind a vintage bookcase and a set of sheer curtains next door to O.G.B. bar, Parlour is truly a hidden gem. Venture through and you'll find a dimly lit, glamorous cocktail bar dedicated to a classy experience. Furnished with lush velvet couches and floor-to-ceiling curtains and mirrors, this is my go to place for some seriously delicious cocktails.
Image - South Of India
South Of India
Amy:Situated out in New Brighton, this Southern Indian cuisine restaurant sticks out like a sore thumb against the beach themed shops but it’s a local favourite! All of their curries are absolutely divine. You can’t go wrong with South of India!
Image - The Bicycle Thief
The Bicycle Thief
Amy:Indulge in European cuisine with their seasonal menus. Vegans and vegetarians praise this restaurant for its variety and quality ingredients!

Cheap Eats

You can still eat well on a budget in Christchurch.Here are some of my personal recommendations for eateries that won’t break the bank!

Image - Samurai Bowl
Samurai Bowl
Amy:Authentic Japanese food for under $15. Try their signature Samurai Ramen Bowl for a hearty meal!
Image - Steampunk Laboratory
Steampunk Laboratory
Amy:Steampunk Laboratory is a Korean street food restaurant serving super tasty Asian-fusion fast food. Try their dumplings and spicy pork, you won't regret it!
Image - Posh Porridge
Posh Porridge
Amy:$10 for a super yummy porridge using organic Canterbury-grown oats, and served hot with home-made fruit toppings. Heaven served for breakfast! This stall may be the sole reason I go to the Riccarton Farmer’s Market...
Image - Ello Cafe And Eatery
Ello Cafe And Eatery
Amy:This cafe is Ballentynes best kept secret! Coffee is sensational and their menu is always changing but everything I've there has always hit the spot. They have a good variety of gluten free and dairy free options too!
Image - Bacon Bros Burgers
Bacon Bros Burgers
Amy:These are the best burgers in the city! My favourite burger is their Woody Burger with avocado, halloumi and chorizo. They also have vegan burgers too!
Image - Rollickin Dessert Cafe
Rollickin Dessert Cafe
Amy:They serve the most amazing organic gelato and sorbet creations here. I recommend their Pomengranate & Berries sorbet and Black Forest gelato!
Image - 大家乐Orange House Restaurant & Takeaway
大家乐Orange House Restaurant & Takeaway
Amy:This place is out of the way for most but the service and meal value is insane! I always order the Spicy Stewed Duck or the Beef with Black Bean Sauce.

Wonderguide map

  1. Castle Hill
  2. Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park
  3. Hanmer Springs
  4. The Tannery
  5. The Crossing
  6. New Regent Street Precinct
  7. Westfield Riccarton
  8. BNZ Centre
  9. The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora
  10. Lyttelton Farmers Market
  11. The Palms
  12. Little High Eatery
  13. Christchurch Botanic Gardens
  14. Alice Cinema & Film Specialists
  15. Godley Head
  16. Brockworth Street Art Gallery
  17. Port Hills
  18. Quail Island
  19. Lyttelton Harbour / Whakaraupo
  20. Ballooning Canterbury
  21. Antigua Boatsheds Canoe Hire
  22. New Brighton Surf Lifesaving Club
  23. Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
  24. Quake City
  25. TranzAlpine & Coastal Pacific: Christchurch Railway Station
  26. Chill - Explore With Us, Urban Tours
  27. Waimak River Riding Centre
  28. Skydiving Kiwis Dropzone
  29. Alpine Jet Thrills Limited - Braided Shallows
  30. Franz Josef Glacier
  31. The Court Theatre
  32. Little High Eatery
  33. The Lotus-Heart vegetarian restaurant
  34. Pedro's House of Lamb
  35. Smash Palace
  36. Strange's Lane
  37. Fat Eddie's
  38. Boo Radley's Food & Liquor
  39. Parlour
  40. Twenty Seven Steps
  41. South Of India
  42. The Bicycle Thief
  43. Samurai Bowl
  44. Steampunk Laboratory
  45. Posh Porridge
  46. Ello Cafe And Eatery
  47. Bacon Bros Burgers
  48. Rollickin Dessert Cafe
  49. 大家乐Orange House Restaurant & Takeaway

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High Five Amy