Insider’s Guide: Where to Eat & What to See in ChristchurchAsia-Pacific | New Zealand
The largest city on the South Island of New Zealand, Christchurch is a travel hub for those who want to experience the country’s deep fjords and majestic glaciers.
Rebuild, or Rethink?
While the city remains a splendid destination, any introduction of Christchurch must now include mention of the February 22, 2011 earthquake that destroyed much of its infrastructure.
Years later, there is still a lot of work to be done as the community debates whether the ongoing plan for Christchurch includes restoring and rebuilding many of the historic buildings that were destroyed, or if a completely different vision of the city is in order, featuring new buildings, environmentally sensitive transport, more pedestrian and bike friendly lanes—essentially a modern upgrade.
Fortunately for travellers, not even an act of God can put a dent in the city’s abundant charm.
Below I’ve rounded up some of my favourite places to eat and things to do in Christchurch.
Things to Do in Christchurch
Where to Eat & Drink
Where to go eat in Christchurch?
This city has a plethora of great places to dine, including some of the best (and award-winning) restaurants in New Zealand and Australasia.
In fact, the city prides itself on being one of the hot beds of Nouvelle New Zealand cuisine.
This intimate restaurant and bar will likely have something for everyone: gluten-free options, a kid’s menu and treats for any dinner that falls between.
This is a busy place with a hip vibe. The menu changes seasonally and reflects the owners’ desire for fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Dumplings, dumplings, dumplings!
A dumpling obsession led to the creation of this specialty restaurant. With a mission to make the dumpling world-renowned, we can guarantee you won’t be disappointed by these creative and quality potstickers.
Cocktails and chilled beer are there to help wash down your selection.
At this restaurant, dishes reflect an imaginative fusion of Asian and European cuisine. The large dining room boasts lots of natural light and is best for a casual, relaxed meal.
If you’re looking for upscale dinning, this is your place. Recognized as an iconic dining establishment in the city, The George is minimalist and modern in décor and features seasonal menus and an excellent wine list.
Good food and an excellent wine list, in a wine-bar style setting. (George Butterfield is among the many fans of this wine list.)
What to See & Do
Before the series of earthquakes that hit in 2011, Christchurch referred to itself as the “Garden City” of New Zealand.
With that dedication imprinted on the city’s mind, all attempts are being made to rebuild in that very image (and ideally to make it even better).
While many historic building are still fenced off and changes are happening in real time, here is what we would recommend if you have one day to spend.
Ask for directions from the hotel staff to Victoria Square; if your route allows for it, follow the Avon River downstream along the path to Worcester Boulevard.
Check out the Botanic Gardens, The Canterbury Museum and the new Art Gallery (which looks like a mini Frank Gehry “a la Bilbao” style building) all within a stones throw of each other. If you’re hungry, stop by a great little cafe called Ilex Botanical Gardens to grab something to eat. Located in the heart of the botanical garden, you’ll have the opportunity to eat surrounded by beautiful plants.
If you have more time go for a stroll in the Public Gardens, you’ll understand the reputation of the city as the “Garden City.”
Give your feet a rest and take the tram; the route loops around the downtown area.
On a rainy day, or if you have more time, take a cab back to the airport (NO, don’t leave to go back home!) and go spend a few hours at the Antarctic Interpretation Centre. New Zealand has a long history with Antarctic exploration and research and the Centre is fascinating.