Christchurch first stops
First Stops is a collection of top picks you can rely on for a great time.
There are good bars in every section of the city. Darkroom is a bar and music venue with a rotating choice of ales on hand pump taps. At Smash Palace you'll sip in a restored bus. The Last Word is a whisky and cocktail lounge in a gorgeous Spanish-mission style building. And Harlequin Public House is so historically charming, you'll want to stay for dinner.
Each Saturday the Christchurch Farmers Market showcases the best of Canterbury's local food producers. The stalls are diverse and plentiful, with cured meats, organic produce, artisan breads and much more. Set in the lush grounds of the historic Riccarton House, Canterbury's oldest homestead, the atmosphere is festive and quaint, making for a jovial atmosphere on even the coldest winter mornings.
Christchurch, the surrounding Canterbury plains, Banks Peninsula and the Southern Alps look incredible from the air. A helicopter flight will help you to get your bearings and work out where your adventure is headed next. A less expensive way to get the big picture is to catch the Christchurch Gondola, which has its base in the Heathcote Valley.
Visit the impressive Transitional Cathedral in central Christchurch and gain an understanding of the city's recovery following the earthquakes. The cathedral serves as a poignant symbol of hope for the people of Christchurch. It's a sleek demonstration of sustainable architecture and building using cardboard. The clean minimalist lines and simple, origami-like construction are captivating.
Get your Christchurch adventure off to a flying start by darting up a river on a zippy Hamilton Jet. Speed up the Waimakariri River (the name is Māori for cold water) through the clear, blue torrents that originate in the Southern Alps. Braided rivers are unique to New Zealand's South Island and Alaska in North America; nowhere else in the world can you see such intricate river systems.
Head up to Hanmer Springs in North Canterbury for a relaxing soak in geothermal hot springs. There are public pools, some with water slides, or you can splash out and book a private pool, massage or facial at the spa. On your way back to Christchurch, call into one of the boutique vineyards in Waipara for a tasting session and shared platter. Black Estate is a top choice and their wines are certified organic.