Where you can bathe under the stars in Christchurch
From hawker-style street food to outdoor garden baths, Christchurch has you covered from early morning to late at night.
- March 2018
Visit Christchurch for international art, innovative fine dining, cool cafés and an optimistic attitude.
Chic café Uncommon attracts a hip crowd to the CBD’s artsy south-eastern edge – you may need to form an orderly queue on weekends. The café-style menu displays a fine-dining touch: try the braised field mushrooms with ink-black mushroom puree, goat’s curd foam and a side of “hash” (a golden-crisp baton of layered and pressed potato).
Christchurch Art Gallery reopened in December 2015 after extensive earthquake prevention work. It’s once again a world-class public exhibition space – now built around five permanent custom pieces acquired through crowd funding. One of the works, Martin Creed’s semi-ironic neon, capitalised script Everything is Going to be Alright, glows along the building’s exterior. Visitors from April onwards can catch a new custom piece, the last acquisition in the series, by Australian sculptor Ron Mueck.
Stop for lunch at fancy food court Little High Eatery, a hawker-style collective of eight family-run operators offering a selection from woodfired pizza to Thai street food. We recommend a steaming bowl of rice noodles in herby broth topped with melting beef brisket from dumpling stand Eightgrains. Order at your chosen stall, find a seat in the communal dining area and collect when the buzzer goes off.
Hire a bicycle from Vintage Peddler and cruise this cycle-friendly city in style. Newly installed Danish-style bike lanes and a CBD speed limit of only 30km/h make it a safe place to get around. Co-owner and long-term resident Rahana Jarvis can take you on a personalised tour to discover local secrets (such as Christchurch’s quaint croquet club) before stopping off for some of the best coffee in town at roastery cafe C4.
Inati (Māori for “to share”) brings an open kitchen and communal dining concept to Christchurch with British-expat Simon Levy’s polished menu of foraged vegetables and secondary cuts. Hoist yourself onto a tall, plush leather stool along the polished brass bar for local clams in truffled potato, or veal bresaola topped with thinly sliced pork fat and pumpkin seed crumble. The wine list is a smart collection of local producers including Waipara’s Pegasus Bay.
Swing by O.G.B for a nightcap. It stands for Old Government Building and is located in one of the only original landmarks still standing in the city centre. There are some excellent retro touches, from the 1946 Austin automobile parked out front to the Peaky Blinders-look uniforms. The wine list runs a good selection of local drinks and there’s often live music, too.
Bathe under the stars at boutique hostel Eco Villa’s outdoor garden tubs (don’t worry, there are bathrooms inside too) before retiring to one of eight private rooms in this recently restored, sustainable 1800s mansion. Get up early to make the most of the world’s healthiest hotel breakfast. House-made coconut yoghurt, muesli, chia pudding and freshly squeezed juice will help you kickstart another day.