If the arrival of autumn has left you craving a relaxing weekend away, head to Christchurch for some hard-earned chill-out time with a loved one or your girlfriends. Editor Trudi Brewer reveals her guide to the best places to eat, sleep and shop in the garden city.
As staycations become increasingly popular, we’re all searching for the perfect weekend destination to kick back and relax. Christchurch might not spring to mind immediately, but the garden city could use a little love right now and, as I discovered on a recent trip to the South Island, there is a lot to love about this incredibly resilient city. Whether you want a luxury hotel, award-winning cuisine, outdoor adventure or simply to sip a great glass of red by an open fire, Christchurch has it all. Here’s how to make the most of your visit.
Where to stay
Experience luxury Bed & Breakfast at The George
This five-star boutique hotel is the perfect place for a few nights R&R. It’s intimate, sophisticated and elegantly stylish. From the impeccably styled bedrooms and delicious food, to the quirky cocktail list and incredible service, it’s no surprise The George is an award-winning destination. The hotel’s rooms are a true home-from-home with super comfy beds, soft fluffy pillows, luxurious showers, and the all-important super-speedy wi-fi. But it’s the little touches – like the sit down check in on arrival to the chocolate and teddy bear left on the bed in the evening – which give this hotel extra charm. Not that you’ll need anything more to eat after dining at the hotel’s two award-winning restaurants. For casual but contemporary New Zealand cuisine, there’s 50 Bistro, a light-filled all-day restaurant, conservatory and lounge bar with picture windows overlooking the beautiful Hagley Park. The George’s fine dining option, Pescatore, is a more intimate space offering both a la carte and degustation menus that focus on seafood and showcase the best local seasonal produce. For pre-dinner drinks, the lobby bar offers an excellent cellar selection (and does a great flat white to help clear your head in the morning). If you’re planning a special birthday or intimate wedding, look no further than The Residence. This beautiful three-bedroom private villa is nestled at the back of the hotel and has French doors that open out onto The George’s pretty gardens. I enjoyed each minute of my two-night stay at The George and everything from the one-to-one service to the unique art collection and luxurious furnishings left me wanting more.
A premium executive king room costs from $325 per night. Breakfast at 50 Bistro costs $38 per person.
The George, 50 Park Terrace, Christchurch Central, Christchurch
The George in Christchurch the cuisine at 50 Bistro, fine dining at Pescatore, and the premium executive king room.
Where to eat in town
Share a platter and a cocktail with the girls at Amazonita
For a fun night out with friends head to Amazonita. Share the Amazonita Board, for a selection of delicious vegetarian-friendly options, including sharp feta, falafel, olives and spicy baba ganoush, served with crunchy, warm ciabatta. The goat’s cheese cigars and crispy squid are also excellent. Wash it all down with a Frosé cocktail (The Ned Rosé, strawberry, peach and citrus), or a Sparkling Peacock (green tea-infused 42 Below Vodka with fresh cucumber, apple, mint and prosecco) – it’s divine!
Amazonita, 126 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch.
feast on fried chicken and buttermilk waffles at Botanic
For a relaxed lunch overlooking the Avon River, Botanic is the place to be. We can recommend the fried chicken and buttermilk waffles – make sure you add the egg – or seared tuna (both pictured). For a sweet treat you won’t be able to resist a plate of churros complete with sweet lavender and lashings of chocolate. This will be a calorific start to your trip, but it’s just what's required to kick-start a lavish weekend away.
Botanic, The Terrace, Level 1, 126 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch.
pair excellent wines by the glass with delicious dumplings at King of Snake
Sticky beef wontons, blade cut organic Marlborough salmon with white miso (pictured here) and roasted eggplant salad are what’s in store (and our choice) at this Asian-fusion gem that serves Korean, Chinese and Southeast Asian-inspired cuisine. The menu is designed for sharing, and you can take your pick of great wines served by the glass, or try a hand-smashed passionfruit or cucumber mojito.
King of Snake, 145 Victoria Street, Christchurch Central
Take a coffee break at Unknown Chapter
Finding a great cup of coffee is an essential part of any weekend away and we weren’t disappointed when we stumbled across Unknown Chapter. Made with coffee beans roasted on site, the flat white is served hot and creamy – just the way I like it. Also on offer is a tempting selection of home-style baked slices and cakes, or choose from a full breakfast menu (try the avocado bruschetta with edamame, crumbled feta, tomato, pesto, poached egg and dukkah). Open from 6.30am until 4pm you could start with brekkie and then return for afternoon tea.
Unknown Chapter, 254 Saint Asaph Street, Christchurch Central
Where to shop
Treat yourself to some luxe fashion at The Crossing
The new place to shop in the heart of this gorgeous city is The Crossing. This luxurious fashion precinct cost $140 million to build and it’s here you can satisfy your need for some retail therapy. Stores include Workshop (pictured), Ruby, Witchery, Seed, H&M, Country Road and Madisons off Broadway, which stocks international brands including Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Tadashi Shoji and more. Visit NYX Professional Makeup for a quick makeup lesson and a new lippy. Once you’re done, pick yourself up with an espresso from Lil’ Ruby, which serves my favourite Allpress coffee.
The Crossing, 166 Cashel St, Christchurch Central, Christchurch