101 GuidescityTravel

christchurch, new zealand

by Grace Bonney

one of the things i love so much about blogging, and the internet in general, is the way you can connect with people with similar interests in completely different parts of the world. today’s first city guide (stay tuned for another at 12!) is a great example of this across-the-globe connection. i was thrilled to hear from simone quentin de manson in new zealand a few weeks back, excited that she was going to be sharing a guide to her hometown of christchurch. having never been to new zealand, but always hoping to find a way to visit, i’ve been collecting guides to new zealand for a few years. one area i know little about is christchurch, so i was happy to hear from simone that it’s home to a great arts scene and many wonderful local shops. so i hope you’ll enjoy simone’s guide to christchurch, new zealand as much as i have. thanks so much to simone for sharing her favorites! [images above via simone]

CLICK HERE for the full city guide after the jump!

Christchurch is a small city in the South Island in far away New Zealand surrounded by stunning scenery, whimsical old mining towns and plenty of tourist attractions, if you make it all the way down here to NZ I have no doubt its not just to see my little home town!

If I was traveling around a remote country looking at towering mountains and eating in little tearooms and restaurants on the road, what would I miss most about city life? Mmm… that’s easy: coffee, shops, well-designed pretty things, yummy food and the buzz of the city. So let me fill you in on the coolest places to go in Christchurch to feel in touch with civilization again.

Christchurch City Centre

Lets begin at the very beginning. The part of Christchurch that has been around since pretty early on in its history. The park and Arts Centre.

To help with your transition into civilization I recommend a stroll through the gardens, it’s completely free with many themed gardens, lush green lawns plus a fishy looking fountain. Don’t neglect the greenhouses, warm and interesting. Can be accessed from many angles, however the main entrance if off a car park that comes off Rolleston Ave.

Weave your way from the Gardens to the Arts Centre and if it is a weekend it will be full of Market stalls! The Markets run from 10am until 4pm on Saturday and Sunday.

The old buildings surrounding the markets used to house our university, they are now full of permanent shops that stock mostly locally made goods. In some of the shops you even get to peer into their messy workshops. Try some fudge in fudge cottage if you need a sugary treat.
The shops and galleries are open 10am to 5pm, Monday to Sunday.

A restaurant with YUMMMY food situated across the road from the Arts Center. Open Mon – Saturday for evening meals. 23 Worcester Blvd.

THE DUX DE LUX(the dux)
Popular with the locals for its delicious beers brewed on site, but also for the extensive outdoor seating in a great location. If you like ginger beer, try theirs. Very refreshing. They also have the occasional band playing on Friday and Saturday nights. 10.30am to late Monday through Sunday, Cnr Hereford & Montreal Streets

Reputation means you may of heard of this place already. Lovely surrounds and delicious food. Open 7 days from 11am til late, Lunch, Dinner and Refreshments, 7 Rolleston Avenue, Botanic Gardens.

Over the road and around the corner from the Arts Centre is the city’s new Gallery. If you like Art and what-not head in that direction. Great big glass building with sculptures outside. Can’t miss it. Open 10am to 5pm daily. Late night Wednesday until 9pm. Worcester Boulevard, Christchurch.

The Centre of Contemporary Art often has some “less famous” but just as cool artists on show.
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Friday, 10am – 5pm. Saturday – Sunday, 12pm – 4pm, 66 Gloucester St


Ok now lets head into town, walk/drive/skip towards the cathedral, you can walk a block south to take either Hereford street or the next block for Cashel street. Heading east into town you will see these little places:

One for the bibliophiles. I usually feel like I am entering into book heaven when I walk in here. “Oh that looks interesting, and that and that…” Interior Design books are at the back, should you make it that far in…. 79 Hereford Street, Mon – Thu 8:30am – 5:30pm, Fri 8:30am – 7:00pm, Sat 9:30am – 4:00pm, Sun 10:00am – 3:00pm

Across the road from Scorpios is Vivace cafe and coffee roaster. Small but delightfully simple, good coffee, snacks and a passionate barista. 86 Hereford Street.

Antiques and vintage clothes, these guys were around since before ‘vintage’ was fashionable. 88 Hereford St Christchurch Mon – Fri 10:00am – 5:30pm, Sat 10:00am – 4:00pm


If you walked up Cashel Street you would see these places:

Up some old wooden stairs is one the shops that begun the gifty, handmade wares craze in Christchurch. A lot of the work has a NZ feel. Get something for anyone from babies to grandmas. I often covet designer jewellery in the wavy wooden cabinets. There’s often some ‘manly’ stuff for the guys in stock. Coffee shop right next door with a view of the river and street from the windows for the tired traveller. 82 Cashel Mall Monday to Thursday 9.30 am – 5.30 pm Friday 9.30 am – 6 pm, Saturday 10 am – 5 pm, Sunday 11 am – 4pm

Vintage Homeware, Antique Furniture and some clothing. Owned by the Tete a Tete peeps. First floor, look out for a cute sign, very close to the Vault.


Clothing, glassware, gifts and art all with the New Zealand theme, classy and well presented. 101 Cashel Street.

Stands for “New Objects Of Desire” this is a new Furniture and Homeware shop. With a Scandinavian influence, it’s our closest stab at competing with IKEA. (No Ikea in NZ… I KNOW.)
This is at the end of the pedestrian mall, next to the hotels. 141 Cashel Street, Mon-Thu 8.30-5.30pm, Friday 9-6pm, Sat 10-5pm, Sun 9-4pm.


So concludes the two streets of interest closest to The Cathedral.
Further east, still in walking distance, are “the Lanes”. A bit like a mini Melbourne we have a few hidden gems in amongst some lanes and alley ways with a lovely vibe.A write up on it for you here.

Around and about these lanes are some gems not to be neglected:

SOL Square
A wee courtyard filled with bars. The Jazz bar Fat Eddies is often a great night out. Access from Lichfield Street.


An old school three story second book store, floor to ceiling books, magazines, records and anything else one might put in the book category. Smiths has even been used for the occasional fashion photo shoot. Find on Manchester Street. 133 Manchester St, Christchurch. Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 10.15am – 5.30pm, Saturday 10.15am – 2.30pm, Sunday – Closed.

Very popular with the locals for good reason; best coffee, great breakfasts and atmosphere second to none. Been around since I can remember starting to drink coffee. Mmm yes gotta be a favorite of mine. 150 High Street, Monday to Friday 7am – 10pm, Saturday 8.30am – 10pm, Sunday 9am – 4pm.

A treasure trove of handmade goodies. Photography, cards, home wares and more. Great stop for some crafty handmade inspiration. 18 Poplar Street, Monday – Friday: 10.00am – 5.30pm, Saturday: 10.00am – 4.00pm, Sunday: 11.00am – 3.00pm

Delicious English style beer brewed onsite. 6 Poplar Street.

A European style cafe with friendly service and good coffee. Open Tuesday – Friday 9am – 5.00pm, Sat 10am – 5pm, Closed Sunday Monday. Ash Street

A small beautiful gallery run by design savvy collectors. Vintage, New Furniture and Homewares, 179 High street.

Specializes in Vintage Ceramics and lighting. However they have a lovely selection of furniture and odds and ends also. 151 High St Christchurch, Mon – Sat 11:00am – 4:00pm


Fabrics from international, local and Australian designers. Just fun to wander in and gaze. 216 Madras Street, Open Monday to Friday 9.30am to 4.30pm and Saturday 10am to 4pm.

For beautiful designer jewellery. 167 High Street

A German Delicatessen and beer house. Fast becoming a local ‘hot spot’, good sausage. Tue to Sat from 11am to late

Pizzeria and bar. Nice atmosphere. 21 Latimer Square, Christchurch. Monday – Friday 8am to late, Saturday 5pm to late Sunday Closed

Suggested For You


  • I live in New Zealand and am so exicted you have a city guide for New Zealand, especially christchurch as I often visit it for work

  • I toured the South Island a few years ago with some friends in a red 1975 VW Kombi van. Christchurch really stood out to me as a place I’d love to come back and explore, so I’m really happy to read your city guide! We hiked out to the edge of town and camped in the caves on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific, and woke up with our sleeping-bagged-feet hanging over the edge!

    Everywhere we went in NZ we found to be clean and thoughtfully cared for, and this cave was no exception…the previous campers had left us a bed of freshly-picked long grasses and some dry kindling. The only graffiti we saw was in this cave outside of Christchurch, where someone just couldn’t help themselves and had to print in neat block letters, “Good Camping!”

  • I’ve just returned Stateside after living in Christchurch for two years. The city I knew is very different from the one described here. Grinding poverty, sky-high crime rate, graffiti-filled streets, and stand-offish locals. For a truer picture of ChCh and life in Aotearoa, visit my blog:


  • I agree with Raina, I think of crime when I think of Christchurch. Come to Wellington instead! It’s much nicer.

    • hi guys

      if you want to have a discussion about crime in christchurch with some facts and examples, that’s fine by me. but please don’t make this an general anti-christchurch statement forum- we’re here to celebrate what’s nice about this town today, rather than suggest somewhere else that’s “better”.


  • ok, last comment- please don’t single each other out in a negative way here. i’m not going to allow non-fact-based city bashing here, or nasty/rude comments about other commenters. let’s try to keep it civil, please. if there are some facts and figures that travelers should know about local crime and what to look out for, fine, but again, general negative comments without constructive facts or tips won’t be tolerated. the same goes for comments about other commenters.


  • Christchurch has its ups and downs, but I LOVE living here.

    It is home to a very diverse range of people, and is beautiful and friendly. There are certain areas of town to avoid, like any city in the entire world, but the positives like great weather, positioned between the ocean and the mountains, a lush green city, excellent arts and music scenes definitely outweigh the negative points, in my opinion.

    Great to see a ChCh city guide!!

  • Yay – I love your city guides and I’m happy to see that they have come to New Zealand! Bring on Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin, Tauranga etc etc

  • Yah! Exciting to see a christchurch city guide pop up! But as a local who enjoys life here, its sad to see people dissing it in such a hurry. Christchurch is a great place with alot of cultural gems just waiting to be discovered.
    Check out http://www.localvanguard.com a blog from an expat New Yorker showcasing Christchurch culture at its best!

  • i really like Christchurch. i visited last year and fell in love with the compactness, the crisp air, the Cathedral, and the hip SOL Square (we had some great meals and drinks in the various bars there).

    i understand that there is a rough side to Christchurch, but no more so than any other city in my opinion!

    i too would like to see more of NZ on D*S – Wellington is my second home and has a huge place in my heart, so i’d love to see that in particular. or maybe i should write my own… hmmm.

  • I am a Canadian who spent last year truly enjoying the beauty and character of this city. There is so much to discover and to love about this gorgeous place. The natural scenery is also amazing.

    I lived in Lyttelton, which is a gorgeous little town on the other side of the Ports Hills, situated on the city’s harbor and port. If you drive through the hills via Dyers Pass, there are a few lovely cafes with magnificent views along the way. Once you reach Lyttelton, spend some time wondering the shops and have a coffee before continuing through Evans Pass. You will see some of the most stunning scenery while driving this twisting and turning road before reaching the beach town of Sumner – a great place to enjoy dinner at one of the restaurants on the beach and watch people surfing.

    Again – although there is a slightly dark side to Christchurch, it gives a grit and character unlike any other place I have lived. Give it a chance and you will fall in love – I promise!

  • Oh, perfect timing! I’m heading to NZ for the first time in July, so I’ll be looking forward to the other guides that are on their way.

    Great info. Thanks so much!

  • O wow, i was surprised at all the attention. Agreed on the Lyttelton Charlie, love it there. I got quite carried away on the guide so it was shortened, the full one is here (http://www.simoneqdm.com/2010/01/21/christchurch-design-guide/). I bike around the banks peninsular when I can. Cafes along the way make it Sooo civilized.

    Thanks for fielding the negative feedback so well Grace! I don’t think Chch is ay worse than anywhere else. It certainly doesn’t feel like it to me. This article may help educate: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/2316397/Christchurch-NZs-safest-city But don’t get me wrong, lived in wellington for four years, the central city has a great vibe (miss the library). NZrs are genrally very hard on Chch. Don’t ask me why, its so pretty!

  • So happy to see a guide on Christchurch! I was there a few weeks ago and this city was such a good surprise after travelling for 3 weeks in the NZ wilderness…I fell in love with the Sol district and its coffee places/bars, the city is full of yummy japanese restaurants, loved the rivers and gondolas and the Nood shop is not to miss!! Reading the previous comments about safety issues, well, I was there for NYE for instance and haven’t witnessed a single fight within the city centre (alcohol free zone for the occasion, which probably helped)…I guess successful progress have been made to make the city safer. So go for it!

  • I live in NZ too, in Auckland actually, but Christchurch will always have a special place in my heart as I got married over in Rapaki last year. Lyttelton and Sumner are charmingm arty spots with fabulous food and shops with unique decor. I’d love to see Monster Bar, Wunderbar and Lyttelton Coffee Co photographed and explored from a Design Sponge persective.

  • Ooh it sounds wonderful. I wish your guide had been around last year when I stopped off there on a 2 week trip. Sounds like there are more gems than meets the eye. Next time!!

  • I’m happy to follow-up on my statements about and experience in ChCh:

    1. ChCh has the same violent assault rate as Compton, CA. I’ve run the numbers.

    2. A billboard of Hitler selling pizza greeted (Jewish) me within a month of my moving there:

    The billboard was not taken down but moved to a different area of the city.

    3. After attacks on their citizens in the past three years, Norway and China issued tourist warnings for New Zealand which are still in place.

    It’s not city-bashing, just a caution.

  • so sad to see so much negativity about a wonderful city. my fiance (he’s a kiwi, i’m canadian) and i lived in chch for a year and have been back to visit friends and fam lots since.
    we were in one of the “rougher” neighbourhoods on the outskirts of the city centre and never once felt threatened or unsafe.. even walking home from the bus stop at night. people are as nice to you as you are to them…
    don’t miss beautiful sumner beach or lyttleton if you make the visit!
    really could go for breaky at c1 right about now!

  • I am sorry your experience in chch was so negative that the number reading perhaps was not done properly. I have two separate people now go through our STATS compared to Compton and there are no similarities between the two cities whatsoever. Here are the numbers:

    Per 100,000 people the two cities have had the following rates of violent crimes over the last few years. (This covers assualts, rapes, robberies and murders – anything where people were physically hurt).

    2006-2007: 713 reports
    2007-2008: 722 reports
    2008-2009: 795 reports

    2006 1672 reports
    2007 1623 reports
    2008 1738 reports

    Now these figures had to have some calcs done because our chch ones were not done per 100,000 people, they were done on the whole. Canty is 5x the size of Compton roughly.

    Hilter poster, embarrassing and not good. However the public asked for this to be taken down. Marketing people for hells pizza to blame, not chch. http://www.adpunch.org/entry/new-zealand-pizza-chain-withdraws-hitler-billboard/

    Sources for STATS: http://www.police.govt.nz/service/statistics/2005/fiscal/stats-canterbury-20050630.pdf

  • It actually said “We are sitting at JUST UNDER 100 offences per 10,000 population”

    The above figures we provided that this is actually: 795 (205 under could be “just under”) per 100,000.
    Comptoms stats are 1738 per 100,000.

    Even if we go by what you are saying, and Chch is sitting at 1,000 per 100,000, how is that similar to Comptons 1,738 per 100,000 exactly?

    Please don’t use Stuff as a reliable resource they are not renowned around here to quote correctly and often mis-represent data (most kiwis liken it to a magazine). Our data is still more reliable, police and FBI reports, straight up. Not a magazine type article with vague sounding data and the odd “quote”.

    Yes there is crime here. We have racists, we have violent offenders and all sorts of riff raff. However, we have much more of the fun, laid back, kind, cheerful, greeny and nice types. That start up lovely little shops and organise fantastic things like arts festivals, buskers festivals, garden shows, Chinese lantern festival, movies in the park, markets and more. Sorry you never go to see that part.

    I am asking you now to start respecting that people live here and love little chch. We are so sorry you had such a bad time here, but you clearly made it out safe and sound.

    As you can see from the above people live here and like it here and we are quite loyal to our city. It is just not as crime ridden as you would liken it to be.

  • Thank you Simone for such a lovely and representative guide to my hometown.

    I love the way the Designsponge city guides show me the interesting nooks and crannies of often small and out of the way places. The guides are about celebrating and respecting the places where people live + work + do creative and interesting things. These aren’t socioeconomic analyses or dissections of crime statistics, they’re guides to the good stuff.

    This certainly represents the Christchurch that I grew up in and have returned to, where I live and work and participate in creative and interesting things. Though there are of course many other things that could be here : )

    (and thanks for the other great Christchurch-based blogs linked to from the comments!)

  • Thank you Simone for reminding me about all the many wonderful things about Christchurch after a bit of a rotten week. You inspired me to get out amongst it and fully appreciate my favourite elements again.

    I love these city guides as they give a visitor a far better guide than any local information centre will ever do. They are like having a cool sister living there to guide you!

  • How wonderful do I feel after reading this guide?! You’ve picked out all of my favourite places and some new ones that I’ll have to check out when I go home. I’m lucky to live in the awesomeness that is Melbourne but still get a little homesick. Still, even though I get homesick I don’t turn on the nasty like one commenter. I suspect her homesickness caused some serious closemindedness. she sounds like she was very unhappy in Chch. And don’t go and read her blog posts fellow Kiwis, they’ll just get you down. I only wish she could have experienced the Chch and NZ with as much of an open mind as I have for Melbourne and Victoria. She may have had a much happier experience in my home city that is filled with passionate, creative, AWESOMELY open-hearted and strong people. There are ALWAYS more gems than meets the eye if you’re heart is open to the world.

    Thanks for this guide to the good stuff of Chch. Before you go into Poplar Lane also check out Inform Jewellery Gallery that only stocks local and NZ designers.

  • Thank you for this wonderful guide! I live in Auckland and had a lovely weekend in Christchurch – pity I didn’t have this guide then!!! Check out the Auckland guide that has just been posted for some more of lovely NZ…. places you won’t be able to resist….

  • I feel that the discussions here about crime rates are indication enough that Chc has a very real and founded reputation for being unsavoury in some respects. But that’s not what these city guide blogs are about. Am I right? They are about highlighting and celebrating the positive, not the negative.

    I lived in a small New Zealand town that people still love to taunt. I certainly don’t want the personal experiences of others to overshadow the great things I know and love about that town.

    Life is about taking the good with the bad, and if you really don’t like where you are, for whatever reason, then I would think seriously about moving somewhere else and trying to seek happiness there.

  • Like a proud parent, it brought a tear to my eye to see a fab design guide for little, wee Christchurch on your site! Hooray!

    I love the range of places that have been featured here and would love to expand on a couple of the suggestions:

    The Bicycle Thief
    Originally a dingy car park, The Bicycle Thief has been transformed into a warm, timber haven featuring rough concrete floors, dimly lit corners, and gorgeous wine displays. During the day it offers the perfect spot to enjoy a coffee…but I can assure you that the friendly and professional staff, cosy and contemporary interior, not to mention the outright, delicious menu will have you booking a table for drinks and dinner at night. It’s a trendy wee spot – best enjoyed with a group of friends or cuddle up in a booth with your main squeeze.

    Monster Bar
    Head over to Lyttleton and down a flight of stairs of the main street you will find this gorgeous, yakatori bar. It’s dark inside, the walls are crammed with delightful portraits of monsters, the furniture is retro and the smokey haze from the grill adds to the atmosphere which makes it the perfect place to head on a chilly, winter’s night. The mojitos are DELICIOUS and you can’t go past the bacon and prawn skewers.

    Christchurch has so many hidden gems for you to discover but the Design*Sponge design guide will definitely set you on the right track.

  • Thanks so much for this city guide and everyone’s comments. So helpful as we plan for our trip to NZ later this year. Grace, do you know if the Wellington city guide will be posted soon? Thanks!

  • Hi, Just to let you all know that on the 4 of September 2010 Christchurch had quite a bad earthquake and is still feeling aftershocks 4 days on. If anyone is planning a trip there I would check your accommodation to make sure it is still standing and also to check New Zealand news websites like the Herald to see how the clean-up is getting along. Unfortunately many of the historic buildings have suffered and have had to be torn down, roads have been cracked and residential homes destroyed. So yes, make sure to ring your intended accommodation first to find out how the situation is.

  • I stayed in Christchurch for a month and a half in 2008, my sister has emmigrated there and has lived in Christchurch for 3 years with her husband and they’ve since had a little baby girl.
    I only have positive things to say…it was beautiful, fun and interesting (obviously every area in the world has some sort of crime -but i didn’t see a thing!)
    I hope all these little gems of places to go are still around since the earthquakes, and I can’t wait to move there myself in a few years!
    Woohoo for Christchurch.

  • I love Christchurch.
    Its certainly a city where you can relax in the afternoon and come alive at night.
    I was born and raised there and I got to say its a wonderful place.
    There are some places in ch ch that may be a bit dangerous but its not like the city is full of angels, actually its not like any city in the world has a crime or two.
    People who talk about the City in a negative way have their own opinion and this is mine
    There is always something new there. Beautiful gardens, Cute little shops, and wonderful people.
    I’m sorry some people didn’t get to enjoy their experiences there, you are really missing out.
    Met some people from Indonesia, India, japan, china, Germany,Spain and they all say that they enjoyed everything about it without getting touched by crimes.
    Come visit Christchurch :) it won’t let yah down. :)

  • I visited Christchurch over 10 years ago and I loved the quaint and wonderful city. Near the bridge of rememberance there was a turning wheel in the water and as the wind blew it would blow bubbles into the air. This beautiful city has so many treasures.

  • Hi everyone, After being hit by a big earthquake our city will never be the same again. We will be different and as lovely eventually, but not the same. I hope once the dust settles and life gets back to normality to update the city guide if you happen to make our city a destination. For now its not the best tourist spot. In the future it will be. It still has the same people, so will have the same creative spirit fueling the re-build.

  • I am working my way through you old post and this one almost made me cry. Christchurch was hit hard by an earthquake in February and a lot of the places that you mentioned in this post are no longer there. I miss our beautiful city. I am looking forward to seeing it be rebuilt.

  • although i am from australia and have slowly moved up the country – wellington and now auckland, christchurch will always hold the most special place in my heart. when my australian dad married my mum (a chch girl) he promised he would fly her home every year to spend in the summer in her hometown. so since i was 3 months old i spent every summer in chch, with family and friends – enjoying the beautiful city has to offer. I then ended up spending 7 years there finishing school and studying at university. my family continue to live there. the recent earthquake has been devestating. the christchurch we all love will be changed forever. it brings tears to my eyes to think of all the lovely spots which face demolition if they havent already been destroyed. HOWEVER i truly believe chch will rise from this tragedy an even better, more beautiful city. it will take time but very soon well all be enjoying the sites, sounds and shops and tastes of this fab place. love to chch xoxo

  • more and more of Christchurch disappears everyday as the demolition after our earthquakes continues. Street corners stand empty and you struggle to remember what was there or at times even orientate yourself. Christchurch will rise again but it will be along time.

  • What out of these places still exist after the earthquake? And what new things have sprung up in the wake of the earthquake?

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