Hip by night
You could almost walk past Strange’s Lane and miss it, but venture down this street and you will find a hive of trendy bars and restaurants connected by an open-air courtyard. It’s easy to spend a night bar-hopping here. Enjoy fine New Zealand wines and locally brewed craft beer at cool spots like Strange & Co (below) and Orleans, which plays soul music.
For a more laid-back end to your night, take a seat at craft-beer and cocktail bar The Institution or whisky lounge The Last Word. Both are sophisticated and intimate, and feel like Christchurch’s best-kept secrets.
Fairest of the malls
Re:Start container mall (below) represents Kiwi ingenuity at its finest. Built to breathe life into the city after an earthquake, it is a shopping mall housed in shipping containers. Go there for fashion by local designers, such as Ruby, who are known for their streetwear, as well as handcrafted goods and funky homeware.
Lyttelton Farmers’ Market is a lively market, held on Saturday mornings, which offers fresh produce. It also has food stores and cafes where you can have a hearty breakfast while watching live performances by local musicians. Try the bacon butties (sandwiches) and whitebait-fritter sandwiches at Lucky Pig, and pick up chutney and flavoured butter from Kakariki Kitchen (Hoon Hay, Tel: 64 21 208 5637).
Also check out the flea market, held in a nearby side lane, where you are likely to find a bargain on anything from second-hand books to home decorations.
For breathtaking views of the Canterbury plains, Southern Alps and beech forests, board the Tranzalpine train. Operated by Kiwirail Scenic Journeys, it runs from Christchurch to Greymouth.
In Christchurch, most people prefer to travel by car. It gives us the freedom to explore everything the sprawling city has to offer, or venture further afield to savour the world-famous South Island scenery. Rent one from Ace Rental Cars at the airport.
Fare for all
Victoria Street is filled with diverse dining options for everyone. Harlequin Public House is a restaurant that specialises in local produce. Dishes include line-caught snapper with lentils and cauliflower. It even has an oyster bar where the chefs will shuck the molluscs for you.
Further down the street, you’ll find bustling restaurants such as Mexicano’s – think frozen margaritas and tacos with fire-grilled flank steak, tomatoes, peppers and black-olive salsa. Another favourite is King of Snake. It serves delicious Asian creations like Penang beef-cheek curry with green beans and fish crackling.
Also visit Canterbury Cheesemongers, which has a floor-to-ceiling selection of cheeses from farms across the country and around the world. Order its special melted cheese sandwich – you can choose the cheese you want in it and the bread is freshly baked.
The panoramic view of the mountains and Lake Tekapo (below) from Mount John Observatory is amazing – and worth the three-hour drive from Christchurch to get there. This is one of the most renowned dark sky reserves in the world and offers an unbelievable view of the Milky Way at night. Join a tour to peer through telescopes used by researchers and learn more about the galaxy.
Closer to the city, drive up to Summit Road in the Port Hills. Here, you’ll find a breathtaking 360-degree view of Christchurch with the stunning Southern Alps on one side and picturesque Lyttelton Harbour on the other.
View other useful insider’s guides.
ILLUSTRATION KEN LEE PHOTOS INMAGINE / 123RF.COM
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.