From your Christchurch accommodation you can set out on foot to explore the wilder and less-well-known parts of the city. But as every good explorer knows, you need to know where to stop in order to rest and re-fuel. Christchurch has hundreds of great cafes and eateries, with more opening every week: you really are spoilt for choice. But here, in no particular order, are five great places where a thirsty wanderer can stop for a cuppa.
Under The (New) Red Verandah.
Rising from the ruins of the original UTRV, this new incarnation is located at 29 Tancred Street, deep in the heart of suburban Linwood. Open from 7:30am until 4pm on weekdays and from 8:30am until 4 on weekends, the café is now located in a smaller venue yet retains the quality and value that the original Under The Red Verandah was famed for. The timber and tin building (red-painted, of course) sits four-square against the footpath of Tancred Street. Inside, the many windows provide light and space while out the back, a sunny pebble courtyard is a great place to soak up the sun and listen to the twittering of the local birds. Along with snacks, juices and extraordinary coffee, the lunch menu at UTRV features such delights as spanakopita, roast pumpkin and feta salad, and a variety of pies that will make you want to go back for seconds. Baked goods fresh from the UTRV kitchen are also an essential to try, eat in or take away.
Ocean Café and Bar (formerly Scarborough Fare)
Out at Sumner, at the far end of the Esplanade, this is perhaps the perfect place to while away a post-walk hour or two. This could easily be the best place in Christchurch to drink coffee and simply watch the ocean. Sited under the old stone clock tower and surrounded by spreading coastal trees, the sunny patio area is always busy but you can usually find a place to sit down. The menu is simple but exquisite and Eggs Benedict always seems to taste better when it is eaten al fresco with a whiff of salt sea air. On cooler days, you can sit inside at a table or, even better, at the bench in front of the big bay window with its view out across Pegasus Bay to the distant Southern Alps. There are magazines to read, friendly locals to chat to and usually a few surfers to watch out on the gentle break of Sumner Beach. One cup of coffee or a pot of tea can easily stretch into two… or three…
The Chocolate Bus
Now here’s something a bit out of the ordinary. This bright red London bus (yes, it’s an original) can be found parked in various locations around the city, most recently at the Gapfiller Pallet Pavilion on the old Crown Plaza Hotel site. Decked out inside as a 1950’s diner, with vinyl seats and formica tables, the Chocolate Bus serves, you guessed it: delicious hot chocolate, including a must-try hot chocolate with a strong hit of chilli, South American style. The bus is a mobile extension of SheChocolat, a boutique chocolate factory and cooking school in Governor’s Bay (more about that in next month’s post) and can often be found taking children on a one-hour chocolate tour of the city. So if you are out wandering the city, and feel like a hot chocolate to warm you up, simply go on-line to www.shechocolat.com and the search map will show you where the bus is currently located.
In the very heart of Christchurch, the Re:start shopping precinct has re-invigorated the central city after the devastation of the earthquakes. The Hummingbird Café, an extension of Hummingbird Coffee, is housed in three shipping containers (these have become a ubiquitous part of the Christchurch landscape since the earthquake) and is located on Cashel Street. The big, sunny courtyard is perfect for that most pleasant of city pastimes, people-watching, and there are plenty of nearby shops to browse. Inside, the eclectic menu features tasty wraps, pies and snacks along with more substantial fare such as pancakes and French Toast. You can sit upstairs and look out across the rooftops of the inner city or downstairs where it’s warm and toasty. Underpinning the menu, of course, is the superb coffee roasted and blended across the railway lines in Addington. They also do a great pot of tea…
Joe’s Garage Riccarton
Students know how to spot a bargain. They also know a good place to while away the hours between lectures and Joe’s Garage is a great location for visitors to mingle with the student in-crowd. With its metal toy car theme – check out the spanner door handles - Joe’s offers cheap grub at reasonable prices. The menu features quirky things like Kung Fu Chicken and Meat ‘n’ Three Meatloaf but if it is only a coffee or tea you are after, Joe’s Garage are happy to oblige. Suburban Riccarton is a good place to wander leafy streets and quiet neighbourhoods and with a place like Joe’s Garage in the vicinity, you are going to be well fed and watered on your walk. As well as established…er, establishments, post-quake Christchurch has dozens of tiny coffee outlets in venues ranging from old caravans to tiny hole-in-the-wall places. Keep your eyes (and nose) out for these places as you wander the city. You may just discover your next favourite café.