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Christchurch city guide

An insider's guide to the Garden City.

Christchurch has long been a city for outdoor enthusiasts who simultaneously crave a bustling city life. Despite its modest population of less than 400,000 people, New Zealand's Garden City is bursting with opportunities for adventure. From the foodie havens of the walkable central business district to the scenic Port Hills and inviting beaches a short drive away, Christchurch has recovered and rebuilt after a powerful earthquake devastated the city nearly a decade ago. Whether you're searching for scenic views, outdoor expeditions or a pub hideaway with a familial feel, this seaside city delivers. Read on for a comprehensive guide to Christchurch's must-visit hotspots, then check out the local sites our four notable locals frequent in town.

Words by Kate Robertson


This port neighborhood has long been a hotbed for Christchurch's creative community. The streets of Lyttelton have produced some of the country’s finest musicians and industry-leading chefs. Visitors can savor the neighborhood's food and drink concepts against a backdrop of breathtaking views. One such example is the Lyttelton Coffee Company, with its veranda overlooking Lyttelton Harbour. The weekly Christchurch Farmers Market is another popular Lyttelton institution and a must for visitors looking for locally-made goods and souvenirs.

Photography by ChristchurchNZ

South Town

Wander south from The Crossing shopping center and you’ll find the central business district’s best kept secret – South Town. The emerging neighborhood encompasses Madras Street, Moorhouse Avenue, Hagley Avenue and Tuam Street. Welles Street has also emerged as a neighborhood hub with new coffee shops, co-working spaces and retail centers. South Town is also home to O-Studio, an urban retreat offering yoga, float sessions and state-of-the-art recovery treatments.

Photography by Nancy Zhou


Sydenham’s affordable rent prices and its location on the city's outskirts have lured a number of innovative businesses into the industrial, working-class neighborhood. Colombo Street is home to locally-owned businesses including boutique shopping center The Colombo, The Fermentist brewery and Underground Coffee Roasters. Venture beyond the main drag towards Disraeli Street and you’ll find quirky antique store Junk & Disorderly and vegan restaurant and bar Grater Goods.

Photography by Box112


The upmarket neighborhood of Merivale is a retreat for visitors with designer taste. The section of Papanui Road that falls within the Merivale zone is home to luxury homewares and Kiwi fashion royalty including Taylor and Kate Sylvester. For the full Merivale experience, stop at Merivale Mall before heading to Nicola Quinn Beauty & Day Spa for wellness and beauty treatments. End the day with a beer and some rugby at Aikmans Bar & Eatery or a big plate of pasta at local staple Tutto Bene.

Photography courtesy of Merivale

New Brighton

When destructive earthquakes rattled the seaside neighborhood of New Brighton in 2010 and 2011, few realized just how long the area's regeneration would take. A decade later, entrepreneurs have taken the plunge and moved back into the area. Visitors can pull up a pew at New Brighton Library – where the beachfront vistas will hold your gaze for hours – cruise down Carnaby Lane for a laidback dining experience at local haunts Switch and The Burger Joint, or listen to the waves roll in from the comfort of the He Puna Taimoana salt water hot pools.

Photography courtesy of ChristchurchNZ

Fine Dining

Photography courtesy of Inati


03-390 1580, 48 Hereford Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch 8013, New Zealand

There is only one table you'll want to sit at when you visit Inati – chef Simon Levy’s table. At this intimate fine dining concept, diners sit in close proximity to one another and share small plates prepared in front of them by the restaurant's chefs. The menu changes seasonally in accordance with the availability of fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.

Food Halls


Photography courtesy of Fush


03-260 1177, 104 The Runway, Wigram, Christchurch 8042, New Zealand

No visit to New Zealand is complete without feasting on fish and chips. Local restaurant Fush specializes in high-quality kaimoana (seafood) in an environment that embraces te reo Māori. Fush also prides itself on serving sustainable, line-caught fish alongside vegetarian and gluten-free menu options.

Breakfast and Brunch

Photography by Stefan Roberts

Addington Coffee Co-op

03-943 1662, 297 Lincoln Road, Addington, Christchurch 8024, New Zealand

Those who love supporting a good cause can put their money where their mouth is at Addington Coffee Co-op. The cafe and roastery – which sits inside a converted mechanic's workshop – redistributes 70 percent of its profits to support staffing and infrastructure initiatives in Christchurch, Ethiopia, Central America and beyond. The brunch menu includes smashed avocado, roasted mushrooms, green Thai chicken curry, vegan-friendly options and more.

Photography by Box112

Barefoot Eatery

20 Welles Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch 8011, New Zealand

Whether you follow a plant-based diet or simply want to get your greens in on holiday, vegetarian and vegan brunch spot Barefoot Eatery has you covered. The buckwheat house waffles are worth the trip on their own, as are the colorful smoothies that will power you through a day out on the town.

Craft Beer

Photography by Kate Robertson

The Beer Library

03-379 2337, 363 Colombo Street, Sydenham, Christchurch 8023, New Zealand

It would be impossible to sample everything New Zealand’s buzzing craft beer scene has to offer during a limited stay in Christchurch. But with more than 300 craft beer, cider, wine and small-batch spirits stocked, The Beer Library lets guests come close. The Sydenham shop also offers subscription services to locals who wish to sample the Library's rotating selections.


Photography courtesy of gin gin.

gin gin.

92 Victoria Street, City Centre, Christchurch 8013, New Zealand

Specialized cocktail bar gin gin. is proof of the spirit's rising popularity. This sophisticated hangout boasts brands that are not typically carried in local liquor stores, meaning bar staff can delight patrons with flashy bespoke cocktails and classic G&Ts. A selection of wine and beer is also available to order.

Four notable locals show us how to do their town, their way.

Known as Ōtautahi in te reo Māori language, Christchurch is the South Island’s largest city, and yet it’s long been relegated to the proverbial kids’ table, regarded as a stopping point on the way to New Zealand’s world-famous scenery. For centuries, the region was home...

Luxury Hotels

Boutique Hotels

Courtesy of Governors Bay Hotel

Governors Bay Hotel

03-329 9433, 52 Main Road, Governors Bay 8971, New Zealand

Located about a 20-minute drive south from Christchurch's city center, the Gorvernors Bay Hotel is a seaside escape with panoramic views of Lyttelton Harbour. The hotel and pub contains just seven guest rooms and is one of the longest continuously operating hotels in all of New Zealand.


Photography courtesy of The Crossing

The Crossing

027 506 8149, 166 Cashel Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch 8011, New Zealand

When the 2011 earthquake leveled parts of Christchurch, Cashel Mall was among the many structures that were destroyed. The city's retail scene took a major hit with the mall's closure. In 2018, The Crossing's opening marked a landmark moment in the city's rebuilding effort. Located in the heart of the city's central business district, the mall is home to retailers including Madisons Off Broadway, Ivyblu and Barkers.

Photography by Nancy Zhou

High Street

High Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch 8011, New Zealand

Shoppers who stop where The Crossing ends are missing Christchurch CBD’s best kept secret – High Street. Visit Moustache Milk & Cookie Bar, shop for denim at Hunters & Collectors, go thrifting at Recycle Boutique and refuel at C1 Espresso, Christchurch’s most grandiose cafe.


Photography by ChristchurchNZ

Corsair Bay

Corsair Bay 8082, New Zealand

Follow the winding road past Lyttelton and you’ll make a sharp turn toward Corsair Bay. Here, you’ll find sparkling water that wraps right around the sheltered bay. Walk along the beachfront, trek the trails or hit the playground with the family.

Photography courtesy of ChristchurchNZ

Sumner Beach

Sumner Beach, Canterbury 8081, New Zealand

Sumner Beach attracts surf enthusiasts and beach bums in equal measure. Grab a coffee at Ocean Cafe and Bar and walk the esplanade, learn the basics with a local surf school or soak up the rays while the kids enjoy the beach-front pool and playground.

Courtesy of Christchurch City Council

Rāpaki Bay

Rapaki Bay, 8971, New Zealand

A narrow road leads beachgoers to a small car park at the entrance to Rāpaki Bay, one of Christchurch's hidden gems. Also known as Te Wheke marae, the beach is popular with locals who bring koha (donation) for access.


Photography by Julian Apse / ChristchurchNZ

Port Hills

Port Hills, Cashmere, Christchurch 8022, New Zealand

The Port Hills mountain range lies between Christchurch and its port at Lyttelton. It's a hub of activity for local outdoor enthusiasts who hike the Bridle Path on which early settlers entered Christchurch, ride their mountain bikes up Rāpaki Track, or take in the city skyline from Christchurch’s most scenic playground, Victoria Park.

Courtesy of ChristchurchNZ

Avon River

Avon River, Christchurch, New Zealand

If activities that send your adrenaline sky-high are a firm "no," book yourself a trip down the Avon River. Jump on a boat at one of the three centrally-located departure points and admire this ever-changing city from an entirely new angle.


Courtesy of Christchurch City Council

Christchurch Town Hall

03-339 3599, 86 Kilmore Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch 8013, New Zealand

A major restoration of this brutalist-style complex was completed in early 2019. Visitors should schedule a night out to see one of the many shows that come through the acoustically-flawless Douglas Lilburn Auditorium, take in Victoria Square from the historic Avon Room or pay the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra a visit on their home turf.