Christchurch has had a pretty rough few years, there is no doubt about it. But all the more reason to come and support it. It is infinitely pretty and city life follows the meanderings of the placid River Avon. Compact and with a population hovering around the 400,000-mark, it is tiny by Asian standards but it certainly does not fall short when it comes to sights and attractions.
There is incredible street art to discover, historic as well as modern architecture to marvel at and a charming red tram makes exploring the city easy-peasy. Its famous gothic cathedral is still undergoing reconstruction following devastating earthquakes, but the verdant parks, flower-filled gardens and endless chances for a walk or picnic more than makes up for things.
The F&B scene is particularly vibrant and, on weekends, do not miss the chance to drive to a small countryside town for the farmer’s markets or enjoy a winery lunch.
New Zealand is perfect picnic country. First up, there are next to no nasties lurking in the wild, not even a single snake. Secondly, sunny days and cool winds are as plentiful as picture-postcard sites upon which to spread out a blanket and packed feast. If you happen to be visiting on a Saturday morning, take a drive to the little village of Amberley which has several stalls offering the best of the wonderful things produced in the area by passionate artisans, from cinnamon scrolls (a croissant-roll), Russian cheese kranskys, olives, jumbo sausage rolls and cheeses.
Amberley Farmers Market, Carters Road, SH1, 7410 Amberley.
Comfortable, contemporary rooms make the Crowne Plaza the perfect base for your Christchurch adventure. The location, right opposite Victoria Square and a few minutes on foot from all the major attractions, is unbeatable while the hotel itself is equipped with everything you would need, from a sophisticated wine bar, great restaurant and café and all the mod-cons you would expect.
Crowne Plaza Christchurch, 764 Colombo Street, Christchurch Central City, 8011, Christchurch.
New Zealand’s flora and fauna are unique and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve makes it easy for adults and children alike to learn about native animals and birds, including the kea, tuatara and even the rare kiwi. But what makes Willowbank unique is also its Ko Tane interactive Maori cultural experience. Once the wildlife park closes for the day, the Ko Tane takes over, giving visitors to New Zealand the chance to see and be part of Maori culture, including the traditional powhiri welcome, the hongi greeting, a kapahaka performance, poi dances and a traditional hangi dinner.
Willowbank Wildlife Reserve and Ko Tane Experience, 60 Hussey Road, Northwood, 8051, Christchurch.
Canterbury Trails is a specialist in bespoke, guided tours for small groups using luxury vehicles. Headquartered in Christchurch, they will be able to tailor-make any trip for you throughout South Island and, naturally, know the best things to see, do and experience in and around Christchurch. (canterburytrails.co.nz)
This article first appeared on Nov 11, 2019 in The Edge Malaysia.