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A local’s guide to Christchurch: coffee, cuisine, culture and more

A cyclist by the Otakaro Avon river, photography by Nancy Zhou

A local’s guide to Christchurch: coffee, cuisine, culture and more

Perched prettily on the Avon River, Christchurch is rising above its recent troubles to earn its place as one of New Zealand’s most liveable destinations.

A local’s guide to Christchurch: coffee, cuisine, culture and more

Jo Blair is the founding director of Brown Bread, a partnerships and engagement company based in Ōtautahi Christchurch that is focused on building communities around visionary ideas.

Since taking on the Arts Foundation of New Zealand as a client, Blair and her team have been on a mission to recognise and amplify the impact of artists and show Aotearoa how the arts are integral to our future.

Blair shares with MiNDFOOD her top picks in Christchurch for coffee, cuisine, culture and more.


I love Coffee Supreme on Welles Street for its batch coffee and toasted sandwiches and Grizzly Baked Goods’ café at The Welder for a grab-and-go snack.

Lux Espresso at the bottom of CoCA (Centre of Contemporary Art) has insane gluten-free cheese scones and Arbo cafe is great for a light lunch and coffee in the city.

Vic’s Bakehouse is a classic and unpretentious 21-year-old institution – its poached eggs on organic sourdough is like home.


The National art gallery, photography by Sabin Holloway

Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū is often cited as the best city gallery in New Zealand – it’s spacious, hosts great touring shows and has tightly curated regular collection shows that tell the story of this place.

The National is a private dealer gallery showing New Zealand jewellers and applied art – it’s one of a kind in NewZealand and has a strong international reputation. Jonathan Smart Gallery in Sydenham is also worth a look.


Black Estate winery is an award-winning restaurant with stunning views

For lunch, it has to be Black Estate winery run by my sister and brother-in-law in North Canterbury (outrageously nepotistic, but it is an award-winning restaurant).

Closer to home, Gatherings is a great neighbourhood spot – Alex Davies’ food is all about heroing vegetables and sustainable produce from the sea. You can’t help but be a conscious eater there.

Miss Peppercorn, out at seaside suburb Sumner, has the most amazing hand-pulled biang biang noodles.


City and Naval is a favourite watering hole for locals

Cellar Door is nestled in the Gothic revival treasure, the Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora. Check out its wine flights focusing on varieties or regions.

Alfred is the best spot in the city for natural wines and beers, and home of the nicest bartender/owner in the city, Omer Shadich.

Fifteen minutes’ drive away in the historic port town of Lyttelton is Civil and Naval, run by Louis Dyer who pours a great gin martini.

And, on a hot nor’-west day, you can’t beat a local beer at Ilex Café, a beautiful architecturally designed glasshouse and restaurant in the Botanic Gardens.


Head off on a hike over the stunning Port Hills

We love the new Ōtākaro Avon Riverwalkway that now forms the spine of the central city, which is coming back nicely after 80 per cent of it was demolished in the earthquakes nine years ago. Our office is in one of the few heritage buildings left on the river – a 1930s working men’s club– so we spend heaps of time just hanging riverside.

Banks Peninsula is an extinct volcano complex with huge harbours, from Lyttelton to the French settlement of Akaroa.

The Port Hills, which look down into Lyttelton and the city, are amazing for running, walking and cycling, and a walk at Godley Head is pretty unique.


Frances Nation sells beautiful homewares

NG Boutique is worth visiting even if you’re not shopping. The building, set-up and racks, featuring designers such as Comme des Garçons, Ann Demeulemeester and Junya Watanabe, make it feel like you’re in a gallery. It also has a great recycled selection, which makes it a bit more accessible and sustainable.

For street style, Infinite Definite is great, with lots of New Zealand designers. For homewares, check out Frances Nation at The Arts Centre. Owner Tessa Peach sources quality products from all over the country.

Indigo & Provisions next door is a great store for heritage menswear, with a smattering of womenswear.

Looking for more recommendations? See the 10 best bars in Christchurch.

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