Getting Around Christchurch

There are three companies that operate and run buses in Christchurch; Red Bus (the most iconic), Christchurch Bus Services and Leopard Coachlines. To keep everything simple, the Christchurch City Council runs the Bus Exchange (otherwise known as the Bus Xchange) under the Metro Christchurch brand. This simplifies transport greatly; instead of having to go to each company and check their different bus routes, you only have to go to the Metro Christchurch website and look up the different bus routes and timetables, all numbered. These services all essentially work as one and the bus drivers all have knowledge and understanding of all of the Christchurch routes, even though they work for different companies.

One of the best things about the Christchurch bus service is that it is very cheap, one of the cheapest in the whole of New Zealand. To use the bus service, you do not need to purchase any tickets. You simply flag the bus down at the bus stop, go onto the bus and pay the driver directly with cash (they do not take eftpos). An adult fare is $3.20 when paying by cash and $1.60 for children (18 years and younger). The $3.20 is a flat fee whether you ride the bus for 2 minutes or for an hour.

When you pay by cash, you will receive a printed ticket that outlines the date/time that you purchased your fare. Keep this ticket; it is important. You are allowed to use your ticket to ride another bus for free within 2 hours. This means that if you require a transfer/two buses to reach your destination (it is extremely unlikely that you would need three buses) then you only need to pay $3.20 one way. It is also very useful for days when you are running short errands; for instance, you can pay just $3.20 to bus to a supermarket, and then bus back within 2 hours and not have to purchase another fare.

Cafes in Christchurch

Sun Dog Diner

The food is self-described ‘hoity toity’ comfort food, designed to be both affordable and great quality. Where possible, Jess and her team make the food from scratch and are committed to using free range options, while still keeping the price of food low. With degrees in both molecular biology and philosophy, she’s learned to use both sides of her brain and applies the same method to her cooking. The result? A menu bursting at the seams with options, that’ll make choosing one dish very difficult. Think Southern-style comfort food, with some Mexican influence too. From buttermilk biscuits with gravy and homemade mac and cheese to spicy pulled pork grilled sandwiches and eggs benedict with sweet and spicy enchilada sauce, there are endless options at Sun Dog. It’s not just their food menu that’s epic either. The drinks options are a hub of creative takes on classic cocktail recipes, as well as the quintessential brewed ‘Diner Coffee’ – bottomless of course.

2 Papanui Road, Chirstchurch, Ph 03 260 1166

 

Black and White Coffee Cartel

If you’ve not yet familiarised yourself with Black & White, you’d better do it quick smart. There’s much to love. There’s eclectic mismatched furniture, featuring none other than a foosball table and an old school globe for planning excursions to far-away places. The walls play host to an indiscriminate array of portraits – everyone from Rod Stewart the All Blacks to a mother and baby and a Native American Indian. Coffee beans are roasted on site with Bink’s micro roaster. As the name suggests, coffee comes both black and white, and for those happy to take a break from the daily flat white, there’s pour over and syphon coffee and cold brew on offer too, so you can get the true coffee drinking experience. There’s a “small but effective menu”, which pays homage to three favourite local food producers, Grizzly Bagel, Bacon Bros and Cakes By Anna.

83 Victoria Street, Christchurch, Ph 027 511 7272 

 

Home 

Cafés in shipping containers is not uncommon in Christchurch, but Home certainly stands out for its unique culinary offering – the meals are a reflection of owner and chef, Darren’s (aka Daz) time spent cooking for billionaires on their super yachts. After seven years travelling the world on the ocean, Daz and his wife came to Christchurch. Not wanting to deal with the stress of opening a full restaurant, they saw a great opportunity in the Victoria Street Food Hub precinct.

99 Victoria Street, Christchurch. 

 

Il Magro Espresso Bar

The small shop front is framed by 100 year old green doors, and has been decked out inside using re-purposed wood. This long and skinny space is always humming with devoted regulars, often overflowing out the door. The service here is always warm and welcoming, with Mark, often found behind the espresso machine, always up for a chat. As well as being a great option for a quick caffeine hit on the run, il Magro is also a lunch spot, with options including pizza, baked potatoes, Po Boys and baguettes. Satisfy your sweet cravings too with any one of their home made slices, freshly bake brioche and pain au raisin

10 Winston Avenue, Christchurch, Ph 021 0277 6584

 

Little Merchants

Little Merchants is one of those good-things-come-in-small-packages kind of places. Housed in front of the stylish new QB Studios shared working space, Little Merchants has quickly garnered such a following in the coffee-loving suburb that it may as well have been there for years.

18 Bernard Street, 03 338 5700 

 

Le Panier Boulangerie

Le Panier Boulangerie finds its home on the corner of Holmwood and Rossall in Merivale. Having started off selling fresh baked French bread at the Riccarton Farmers Market, French-born ex-chef and chief baker, Gilles Thebault, and his Kiwi architect wife Nikki, opened up their most excellent bakery in early 2013. Here they make and sell delicious baguettes, croissant, pain au raisin, pain au chocolat and other such doughy delights.  Everything is simple and authentic, and the bakery would not be at all out of place on a Parisian Street corner.

54 Holmwood Road, Christchurch, Ph 03 355 6854

Restaurants in Christchurch

Gatherings

The menu is very much plant based, a philosophy that relates to Alex’s desire to look after the planet and be mindful of what we take from it. Open Wednesday to Saturday for lunch or dinner, the menu changes frequently depending on what their small scale produce makers can supply (so much so that your favourite dish may be here today and gone tomorrow!).  But rather than disappointing, the transience of the menu adds to the quiet excitement of eating out. A $60 tasting menu will see you delivered five courses of some of the freshest produce of the day, and a snack menu caters to those hungry at the bar.

2 Papanui Road, Christchurch,  021 0293 5641

 

The Bicycle Thief

Together Lisa and Richard have transformed the old Rossendale restaurant into an Italian-style bistro with nods to The Bicycle Thief of old along the way. Okay, so there’s only so much they can re-create in a heritage 1870s building considering their restaurant was once in a rather raw and urban space (aka a converted car park with concrete floor and very low ceilings). However, they have made excellent use of the new premises, both inside and out. The once open plan restaurant has been divided up with intimate booths, and texture has been added through curtains. The open fire at the entrance remains too. Outside there are outdoor heaters and rugs, and ivy has started growing over the pergola to create the perfect winter garden.

136 Old Tai Tapi Road, Christchurch, Ph 03 322 4731

 

Twenty Seven Steps

Twenty Seven Steps is run by Emma and Paul, the good folk who use to own Akaroa’s favourite restaurant, The Little Bistro. As the restaurant’s name suggests, there is a short climb up steps (no, there aren’t 27) to the restaurant, which occupies a large upstairs space: it is essentially four upstairs shops combined into one. An effortless combination of old and new, Twenty Seven Steps is modern and sophisticated. The respect for this building’s heritage in a city where heritage has somewhat crumbled away is special, and the beautiful and quintessentially New Regent Street, arched windows are the heroes of the space. The kind of place that Christchurch feels to have been void of for some time, Twenty Seven Steps is just the place the city needs: a sophisticated and modern bistro, where service, food and drink are up to a fine dining standard without all of the associated pomp and fluff.

16 New Regent Street, Christchurch, Ph 03 366 2727

 

Boo Radley's Food and Liquor

Inventive in its approach to dining Boo Radley’s draws from the savant of comfort food; Southern American cuisine. The menu devised by Tequila Mockingbird’s head chef  Mark Sycamore  is designed to share and puts a new twist on some traditional favourites. With Coca Cola glazed ribs to chicken liver parfait with a bourbon-apple jelly and grilled bread, you will not lack for choice whether you come for drinks and nibbles or stay on for dinner.

98 Victoria Street, Christchurch, Ph 03 366 9906

 

Bloody Mary's

New York style steakhouse right here in Christchurch, Bloody Mary’s really does have it all. As you walk in, to your left sits the general bar and dining area (as well as outdoor seating and arguably the best steak in town), and to your right sits the Whiskey Lounge, Breakfast Buffet and Chef’s Table; all of which are very special features of the Bloody Mary’s dining experience.

30 Latimer Square, Christchurch, Ph 03 943 5937

 

Mexicano

There’s no mistaking you’re in Latin American territory the moment you step through the door at Mexicanos. The walls are cloaked with all sorts of memorabilia, the dining area hosts some vibrant graffiti, flowers sit atop tables and cacti pots sit pretty in wire framing. A basket of fruit hangs near the bar and is visited frequently by the casually cool bar staff who seem to be constantly shaking up good looking treats. The vibe is festive and fun, and not surprisingly everyone here seems to be having a good time. Soft bar stools and long pews give a nod to Mexico’s church visiting background and ensure you’re comfy enough to sit around for hours at a time.

131 Victoria Street Christchurch, Ph 03 365 5330

Deli and Markets

The Lincoln Pantry

As purveyors of quality produce, the focus at The Pantry is on offering Lincoln locals gourmet, natural, organic and health conscious food. Here they prefer to source from small producers, both locally and internationally, to create a farmers-market feel within the store. Keen on a handmade and upcycled vibe, The Pantry has been fitted out using reclaimed materials, and the vast selection of edible goods is lovingly displayed on shelves (built out of pallets) and atop wooden tables. Your groceries are packed in cardboard boxes or paper bags, not plastic, and most products are either packed in cardboard or glass, to reduce the environmental impact.

5 Robert Street, Christchurch, Ph 03 325 7717

 

Whisky Galore

While Whisky Galore sells whisky galore, don’t let the no ‘e’ fool you. It’s not just scotch that they supply, but a delicious range of single malts, rare malts, vatted malts and Irish whiskey. This place is Christchurch’s exclusive, specialist and highly regarded purveyor of whisky. Whisky Galore has been a Christchurch mainstay for over 10 years now and while we suspect that probably has something to do with the fact that it’s one of the country’s premier suppliers of single malts and Scotch blended whiskies, there’s more to like about Whisky Galore than simply the drink that is on offer. 

834 Colombo Street, Christchurch, Ph 03 377 6824 

 

Royal Ohoka Farmers Market

Every Friday morning, rain or shine, the Ohoka Domain comes alive with stallholders and market goers. The market hustles and bustles with locals and tourists in search of the best produce North Canterbury has to offer. Stallholders sell anything from ready-to-eat meals, plants and crafts to candles, second hand goods and cheese. Although a bit of a drive from Christchurch, this is a market you don’t want to miss.

Every Friday 9am to 12.30pm at Ohoka Domain, Cnr Mill Road and Whites Road, North Canterbury, 

 

Riccarton Racecourse Market

Consisting of over 300 individual vendors, the market stalls contain a variety of artwork, furniture and clothing, as well as just about everything else under the sun.  For those among us who can spend hours trawling through op-shops, charity barns and vintage emporiums, the market presents an almost daunting opportunity to search for hidden treasures.  There’s also a wide array of brunch, lunch, and coffee options to aid your leisurely stroll, with many of the city’s international and ethnic food stalls having taken up permanent residence at the market in the post-earthquake environment.

Every Sunday 9am to 2pm at Riccarton Racecourse, 146 Riccarton Road

 

Oxford Farmers Market

A Sunday morning must do is a road trip out to Oxford, North Canterbury. There you will discover the wonders of rural living, a couple of great little museums, gift shops and the Oxford Farmers Market. This weekly market provides the community with a regular and reliable opportunity to purchase quality, local, fresh, seasonal produce and artisan food products. By providing transparency to consumers as to where and how their food is grown and produced, they can make an informed shopping decision.

Every Sunday 9am to 12pm at Main Street, Oxford, North Canterbury

 

Opawa/St Martins Farmers Market

Supporting local growers and producers for a couple of years now, the Opawa  / St Martins Farmers Market is a popular market with locals and those from a little further afield. Raw food, fresh baked bread, free range eggs and fresh fruit and vegetables, you name it! This weekly Sunday market supports the Christchurch South community by enabling growers in the area to sell direct to the buyer. Nothing unusual here but we all know there are financial gains to be made from cutting out the middle man. Take your wicker basket and stock up on the week’s groceries, at the same time as supporting local, small scale food production. Primo.

Every Sunday 9am to 12pm at 275 Fifield Terrace, Christchurch

 

Mt Pleasant Farmers Market

One of the best things about Christchurch is that there is no shortage of good weekend markets. The farmers market in Mt Pleasant is a bustling little Saturday hangout, with fresh produce and great community vibe. There’s a great selection of stalls here, offering everything from fruit and vegetables to pies to salmon and fresh bread.

Every Saturday 9.30am to 12.30pm at McCormacks Bay Road 

 

Lyttelton Farmers Market

Christchurch folk do farmers markets well. Whether buying or selling, there’s always a sense of community spirit and passion in the air for trading locally and direct to the public. The farmers market in Lyttelton epitomises this vibe. At this market (in Lyttelton’s main street) you will find fresh fruit and vegetables, breads, meat, eggs, cheeses, hot drinks and plants (among others).

Every Saturday 10am to 1pm at London Street, Lyttelton

Bars and Pubs in Christchurch

The Dirty Land

All about intimacy and quality of drinks, this cocktail bar is a sophisticated addition to the vibrant Victoria Street precinct. Set back off the street and nestled in beside Mexicano’s Restaurant (the same savvy crew are responsible for both establishments) the bar is the perfect place to unwind after a hard day’s work. The open room at the back is particularly cosy with its dim wall lights and sofa seats, whilst the outdoor area boasts strings of lights and in-table heating. And, whilst the wrought-iron chandeliers, slick black tiles, rustic brick and polished timber bar are all impressive aspects of The Dirty Land’s interior, it’s the striking art work adorning the walls and the dramatic red velvet curtains leading to the outdoor-seating area that really give the place it’s character.

131 Victoria Street, Christchurch, Ph 03 365 5340

 

Vesuvio 

The kind of place that works regardless of weather, Vesuvio’s small bar makes for a perfect sipping spot on cold winter evenings, while the sunny outdoor courtyard shared with revelers at other popular spots such as Keo Thai, calls for glasses of bubbles on long, balmy nights. Look out for the live jazz nights which take place most evenings. Quality wine offerings are local, national and international, and the range is extensive. Wine is served in glasses of equally high quality (Spiegelau) and staff have a good knowledge of the wines available. Carafe servings of wine make a few drinks affordable, though chances are you’ll also want to choose from the menu selection. Craft beer features for those less partial to a glass of vino, and Mediterranean tapas dishes designed to be shared, round out the offerings of what is a very pleasant wee bar in a somewhat hidden location.

4 Papanui Road, Christchurch, Ph 03 355 8530

 

The Laboratory 

Owned and operated by the good people who used to run The Twisted Hop, Martin and Lisa describe themselves and the ‘scientists’ at their new laboratory as craft brewers and culinary chemists. In a large old brick building which they built out of recycled materials (it’s hard to miss), The Laboratory offers an excellent range of craft beer, wood fired pizzas and tapas-style plates that are designed to be shared. In the weekends they have a brunch menu featuring eggs benedict (with spinach & salmon or bacon), French toast with poached pear and maple syrup and The Big Breakfast.  There’s an impressive array of beer on tap and sold by the bottle from the designated bar area, and with plans for the Laboratory’s own brewery to soon be commissioned on site, the craft beer offerings out this way will only continue to get better.

17 West Belt, Lincoln, Christchurch, Ph 03 325 3006

 

Shop Eight Food and Wine

The two-level bar has been designed and fitted out by Rekindle; the local social enterprise that re-purposes salvaged timber that would otherwise go to waste, into beautiful furniture and objects. There are table lamps by Joska and Sons of Lyttelton and flowers foraged from Christchurch gardens. It is a fit out that speaks of resourcefulness, a commitment to local craftsmanship and a strong environmental conscience. Wine, of course, is a standout feature, and Shop Eight boasts one of the city’s more interesting and considered wine lists. Expect a carefully curated selection of exclusively New Zealand wine that has its origins in vineyards that are organic and biodynamic. The wine offerings change regularly. For those more partial to craft beer, the offerings here are good, local and also change frequently.

8 New Regent Street, Christchurch, Ph 027 450 8047

 

Pomeroy's Old Brewery Inn

Pomeroy’s is everything you would expect from an ol’ English-style public house (aka a pub!). The decor, the smells, the garish patterned carpet (dark, of course, to hide any unsightly beer stains)… But Pomeroy’s point of difference is evident in the details.

292 Kilmore Street, Christchurch, Ph 03 365 1523

Shopping in Christchurch

Head to Re:START container mall in the heart of the city – a funky shopping environment with speciality shops and eateries housed in brightly coloured shipping containers. Re:START surrounds the iconic Ballantynes Department Store offering everything from international delicacies to homewares and designer clothing.

The newly reopened New Regent Street offers a selection of boutique shops and is definitely worth exploring for the architecture alone.

Pick yourself up a bargain at Dress-Smart – the South Island's only dedicated outlet centre with more than 60 stores or head to one of Christchurch's famous malls.

Westfield Riccarton is the largest mall in the South Island and Northlands, The Palms and Merivale Mall all have a range of retail stores and places to grab a bite.

The Colombo is a unique shopping and entertainment experience positioned in Christchurch's leading industrial area of downtown Sydenham only 5 minutes walk from the Christchurch CBD.

10 Free or cheap ways to do in Christchurch

1. QUAKE CITY (NZ$20)

This museum gives visitors a deeper understanding of Christchurch’s recent history of the Canterbury Earthquakes. We recommend visiting Quake City early in your visit to Christchurch in order to put things into perspective. Find Quake City at the Re:Start Mall (see below).

 

2. GO TO ONE OF THE MANY MARKETS.

From arts and crafts to jams and jewellery, Christchurch hosts markets across the city all year round. Checking out the stalls while often listening to live music sure beats your supermarket shop.

 

3. GO ON THE BRIDLE PATH WALK.

Who needs to pay for a gondola when you have two working legs (and a tight wallet)? Remarkable views of Christchurch can be enjoyed from the Bridle Path walk, which is 3 hours return. The Bridle Path Walk starts just below the gondola. To get there without a car, Metro Bus number 28 takes you from Central Station to the Gondola base and through to Lyttelton.

 

4. CHECK OUT BROCKWORTH STREET ART GALLERY.

Not like your average art gallery, Brockworth Street is an art gallery where brick walls are the canvas.

 

5. GO TO QUAIL ISLAND.

A NZ$25 return ferry will take you to Quail Island: where sights include shipwrecks and, errr, former leperacy colony and quarantine station.

 

6. GO TO A FREE GIG AT THE DARKROOM.

Generally running Wednesday to Saturaday nights, The Darkroom on St Asaph Street puts on free live music. If you’re around on the first Monday of the month, The Darkroom hosts a magic night with hypnotists, magicians and comedians. Admission to the magic nights is NZ$10.

 

7. GET EDUCATED AT THE CANTERBURY MUSEUM.

A walk through Botanic Gardens will lead you to Canterbury Museum – the token attraction to visit if you are on a budget (or have no money at all as it is free). Learn about NZ history, art and the natural world.

 

8. TAKE A STROLL THROUGH HAGLEY PARK AND BOTANIC GARDENS.

Find out why they call Christchurch “The Garden City”. It seems like every time you walk through the gardens, there’s something new to discover. If grand water fountains are your thing – we don’t know if it’s anyone’s “thing” but this one is pretty cool – then you’ll love the restored peacock fountain found in Christchurch’s Botanic Gardens. Walking though the adjacent park and garden is a pretty and easygoing walk to take when hanging out with backpacking buddies.

 

9. HANG OUT AT THE RE:START MALL.

Re:Start is a colourful uplifting mall offering a unique shopping experience in shipping containers. The mall boasts great New Zealand coffee, food, book stores and quirky boutiques.

 

10. WALK OUT TO SEA ON NEW BRIGHTON PIER.

In fact, there are quite a few things to do in the New Brighton suburb. The beaches are popular for surfing and sunbathing – weather permitted, of course. Plus, a walk along Marine Parade offers shops and cafes.