Christchurch is the largest city on New Zealand’s South Island. Home to more than 380,000 people, the city is known for its English heritage and is the main centre of the Canterbury region. As New Zealand’s second-largest city, the vibrant nightlife offers visitors a taste of the world with its international array of bars and restaurants.
This new inner-city precinct looking out onto the Avon River, with steps leading down to the water’s edge, is a good option for visitors who want to wine and dine at some of Christchurch’s top restaurants and bars. It opened in 2018 and was established to replace the Strip, the entertainment zone destroyed in the 2011 earthquake. Try cheese made from buffalo milk and Wagyu beef produced in the Canterbury region from the menu of the Terrace Tavern or enjoy one of New Zealand’s top independent craft beers on tap at the Craft Embassy.
An iconic theatrical venue in Christchurch, the Isaac Theatre Royal has enthralled audiences with captivating shows for more than 100 years. Opened in 1908, the building has survived almost being bulldozed in the late 1970s before it was saved at the last minute by community fundraising efforts. Restoration efforts and earthquake proofing have made it one of New Zealand’s safest and strongest performance venues.The theatre hosts international music acts, local plays and family-friendly pantomimes and is the self-proclaimed “spiritual heart of the Canterbury arts scene”. The main auditorium seats 1,292 people and there is also an intimate studio space, the Gloucester Room.
Play retro arcade games at Christchurch’s Arcadia restaurant and gaming venue. Visitors can battle it out with friends on Space Invaders and Pacman, old-school style. Arcadia also hosts regular pinball machine tournaments with Twilight Zone and Frankenstein machines as part of their large collection. Fish and chips are their speciality as well as burgers, and their menu includes discounted offers for members. Try the Works burger with bacon, cheese, onion rings and red onion for a monster meal, or the Apricot chicken burger with cream cheese, bacon and a chicken patty for something more unusual.
Have a laugh and a scream while riding swings, slides, flying foxes and jumping on trampolines with friends at the Margaret Mahy playground. The multi-purpose park features water fountains and interactive light displays and honours the memory of local children and young adult writer, Margaret Mahy, who published more than 120 titles in her 55-year career. After dark, teens and students meet in the park to play and relive their youth with play equipment that is built to be strong enough to carry the weight of adults. Opened in 2015 as part of the Christchurch rebuild after the 2011 earthquake, the 2.5-hectare playground is in the heart of the city centre on the edge of the Avon River.
Dessert cafe Rollickin Gelato is the home to great ice cream in Christchurch city. Made from the best milk and whole-food ingredients (like real mint leaves in the mint chocolate gelato), organic goodness and creativity are at the heart of what Rollickin Gelato offers customers. The branch on Regent Street stays open until 10pm every night (and 11pm on weekends), making it the perfect stop for an after-dinner scoop on the way home.
Only open on Saturday nights, the Ferrymead Heritage Park in the suburb of Heathcote is home to Christchurch’s Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre. Solve a mystery while having dinner and watching a show with friends. The evening’s entertainment even includes a haunted tram ride. Don’t forget to dress up.