Christchurch New Zealand is known the world over... but sadly it's often the earthquake of 2011 that people first think of when they hear the name. I didn't want to start out this post talking about something the locals are trying so hard to move on from, but I kinda feel like we need to acknowledge this tragedy of the past in order to really get a sense of how far this beautiful city has come in the 5 years since, and to really appreciate the mammoth efforts many locals are putting in to get people talking about more than just that one dreaded day. So yes, there was a bloody huge earthquake, yes it destroyed much of the city, especially the city centre and the old stone buildings Christchurch was well known for, but as I found out on a recent trip down south, there's so much more to this beautiful part of the country than meets the eye.
I spent 3 nights in Christchurch a few months back when I was in town for The Food Show and I won't lie, I left feeling incredibly sad. Sad for what once was, sad for the people who have been so greatly affected by the earthquake and the destruction it brought. My opinions were not entirely fair though, as I didn't get much spare time to see the city or its surrounding areas between shows. I only saw a tiny glimpse of the city, and the beautiful Cathedral which sits in wreck and ruin.
A few weeks later I was flown back to the city, courtesy of Christchurch & Canterbury New Zealand
and my initial impressions were completely turned upside down. With more time to explore and a local showing us around, I instead saw beautiful buildings being lovingly restored to their former stone-glory, quaint New Regent Street
, the beautiful Botanical Gardens
(scroll down to see the stunning big yellow tree we spotted there!), inspiring Gap Filler Projects
all over the city, and we even went punting up the Avon river
. We also ate our way around the city, from beautiful homemade food and teas at iconic C1 Espresso
, to one of the most memorable eating experiences I've ever had at Roots Restaurant
in Lyttleton. It turns out, all I really needed was a little time and a few local tips to really see and experience the 'little pockets of awesome' Christchurch is becoming well known for, in these post-earthquake times.
Pretty buildings and cool cafes are great, but for me it's always the people that make them even better. Hearing the stories of the people behind many of the amazing eatery's in and around Christchurch was for me the most special part of the trip, I feel blessed to have met and spend time with these incredible, passionate and talented people.
Bright and early on our second day we meet up with Angela Clifford from Tongue In Groove
wines, who took us on a foraging tour of the Waipara Valley that included foraging and tasting fresh seaweeds
and plants at Motunau beach with guru forager Peter Langlands, collecting chestnuts
(at a secret location!) and truffle harvesting
with Gareth from Limestone Hills
. To say Angela is passionate about foraging, growing and eating locally would be a massive understatement. She's part of a growing movement in the region along with Penelope and Nicolas from Black Estate
, the team at Pegasus Bay
, Christy and Giulio from Roots Restaurant
, Jonny Schwass from Harlequin Public House
, Alesha from BearLion Foods
, Jade from Kākano
and professional forager Peter Langlands
, who are all walking the talk when it comes to local, sustainable foods, with a strong emphasis on foraging. I gotta say, leaving Christchurch this time around I felt nothing but excitement.
-Harlequin Public House
-Lyttelton Coffee Co.
-BearLion Foods (also at Riccarton Markets every Saturday)
-The Brewery (great gluten-free pizza)
To see + do
-Punting on the Avon
-Gap Filler Projects
-Margaret Mahy playground
-Check out the Street Art around the city
-Riccarton Farmers Markets
-Lyttelton Farmers Markets
-The Christchurch Gondola
If you missed it, you can also read my post about the farmers markets we visited in Christchurch here.
Thanks so much to Christchurch & Canterbury New Zealand for making this trip possible. A special thank you to Emma O'Reilly for showing us around, and to Delaney Mes for being the best travel buddy ever. As always, all views are my own.