The central areas of Christchurch are re-building as a great place to shop with new complexes arising from their surrounds and the promise of international fashion brands like Top Shop. Although many retailers had to re-locate to the suburbs after the earthquake, many are now returning to the central city, a place where they feel they belong.
New Regent Street
Christchurch’s last remaining historic street, the Spanish Mission-style New Regent Street re-opened to the public in April 2013. Almost all of the refurbished shops are now leased, most of them to the original tenants. The street is easily accessed on foot, by bus or by car. Among the stores beneath the pastel-coloured walls you can find everything from lingerie and homewares to beads and polished diamonds. There are beauty clinics and hairdressers and shops selling freshly-baked cookies and award-winning fudge. And, of course, the many cafes and restaurants are a perfect place to sit and enjoy a coffee or an alfresco meal while you admire the newly-renovated Spanish Mission facades and balconies of the street. The Christchurch tram is back running down the street, and just around the corner is the stunning, freshly rebuilt Isaac Theatre Royal, complete with original facade in pristine condition.
For more information visit www.newregentstreet.co.nz.
East of the city centre, in the former industrial suburb of Woolston, The Tannery is Christchurch’s newest boutique shopping precinct. Located inside the historic and architecturally significant former Woolston Tanneries buildings, The Tannery houses a wide selection of specialist shops, along with cafes, bars and restaurants. You can get a surfboard custom shaped and styled at Sadhana Surfboards; buy a kite to fly on a windy day at The Kiteshop; or get the kids some styley clothes at Cows Go Moo. There are several boutique clothing retailers along with a silversmith and a bookshop specialising in rare and antique books.
The buildings at The Tannery have been restored in a way that preserves and highlights the unique structural details of the original buildings and it is easy to imagine the activity here in Christchurch’s heyday when industries such as leather tanning, boot-making and wool-scouring were central to the city’s economy. These days, of course, the smell of tanning fluid and lanolin have been replaced by the aromas of coffee, cut flowers and superb food, but The Tannery manages to infuse its modern, airy ambience with just enough history to give the precinct a distinctive and authentic flavour.
More information can be found by visiting www.thetannery.co.nz.
Re:START and Cashel Mall
Right in the centre of town, the vibrant Re:START shopping precinct is located on Cashel Street. There is ample parking nearby and many of the shops are housed in colourful containers which have been imaginatively remodelled as permanent structures. Anchored by Ballantynes department store, Re:START houses many businesses previously located in the central city, such as Johnson's Grocery Store, Scorpio Books, Hunters & Collectors and Cosmic. Re:START has great cafes, a range of specialty gift stores and a selection of fashion boutiques not found elsewhere in the city. The sunny location has two food court areas where you can relax and watch the world go by over the rim of your coffee cup or surf the net using the area’s free Wi Fi Service. Check out www.restart.org.nz for more information.
Christchurch's first and most comprehensive department store, Ballantynes & Co, remains as the anchor tenant in Cashel Mall, carrying well known brands in womenswear, menswear, kitchen goods and appliances, gifts, household linens and gourmet food. They are also the first port of call for a wide selection of cosmetics, jewellery and collectibles. Their Contemporary Lounge brings some top Euro fashion brands to locals and visiting shoppers.
Cashel Mall also includes the Quake City attraction, run by the Canterbury Museum and designed to provide visitors with an insight to the events of February 2011. Quake City is open seven days a week.
Photo Credit: www.nzraw.co.nz
Something of an urban mall and formerly known as the Spotlight Plaza, The Colombo is located in Sydenham and provides a very funky, weatherproof environment to shop for fashion, footwear, gifts, homeware and a wide variety of edibles and drinkables. Right outside is also the reincarnation of the very popular Academy and Metro Gold picture theatres, providing the city with art-house and mainstream movies in a boutique setting. From the same carparking spot you can also enjoy a meal at the Belgian Beer Cafe Torenhof (mussels are their speciality), drop into Hello Sunday for a coffee and deliciously different eats. Right next door to Hello Sunday is the Pascha Centre shop, which features all things spiritual, relaxing and meditational. For different food and drink options, outside the Colombo on Colombo Street is popular Burgers and Beers and styley cocktail lounge, the Dragons Den.
Cranford Street, St Albans
On a smaller scale, other parts of the city have some great shopping areas popping up. The corner of Cranford and Westminster streets is now home to a number of new shops. One of these is the Sugar Baby Cakery which is worth checking out just to see some of their beautifully decorated cakes. They also offer a range of classes and if you are looking for children’s party ideas they have a prettily decorated junior workroom where they can host them. Once you’ve picked up your sugar fix, had a coffee and lunch at neighbouring Metro Cafe, you might want to wander over the road and review the footwear for sale at speciality shop Willow Shoes. Willow Shoes specialise in women’s shoes from size 10 upwards, so this is really a destination for those women with larger feet who struggle to find stylish footwear elsewhere.
Barbadoes and Edgeware, St Albans
Tucked in a group of shops on the corner of Barbadoes Street and Edgware Road is The Donut Boutique which popped up late last year. With their range including a chocolate truffle collection and a filled donut collection, The Donut Boutique is filling the gap for specialty donuts in Christchurch. Check out some of their delicious flavours here. Next door is heaven for girls who are lovers of the colour pink. Everything you can think of that could possibly be pink is for sale at Pinkerbelle.
Directly across the road is a vintage store Etcetera Etcetera which is a treasure trove of collectables and curios. The shop has lots of vintage militaria and kiwiana as well as a beautiful range of old style clothing. There’s a small café on site so you can boost your caffeine levels while you browse. The area is also home to the Ambrose Heal shop which produces custom designed and uniquely hand crafted wooden furniture. Using a combination of recycled and new timber they have everything from bed frames to entertainment cabinets. They also offer a restoration service for furniture that could use a bit of repair work.