The historic Christchurch tram is back on the rails and no matter what you may read locally, central city Christchurch is showing all the signs of a resurgence.
Following on from the success of the innovative “Container City”, Re:Start, the city continues to thrive. The recent street art exhibition Spectrum brought together some of the world’s best to beautify the urban landscapes with an exhibition that exceeded attendance expectations.
Key developers have signed a contract to deliver a significant city retail precinct in the next 18 months, and rumours are leading chains such as TopShop and Zara will complement local business.
Arguably, it couldn’t be a more exciting time to visit the Garden City. In the final stages of transition, you can still understand the magnitude of the earthquakes, but see the absolute positivity and resilience in revival.
Of course, staying close to the city centre is the key – Christchurch TOP 10 ideally place you to easily experience the wealth of choices on offer.
In this post, we’ll focus on two key areas – Victoria Street and New Regent Street. Both institutions pre-quake for their hospitality and boutique retail offerings, they have bounced back with a freshness that even locals find inspiring!
Victoria Street - Central City Style
Victoria Street is thriving again and is certainly one of the most exciting streets in Christchurch. Angling down from the edge of the Four Aves through to the heart of the city, you could spend a week here and still find something new to experience.
The list of new arrivals is hard to keep up with. Mexicanos, Tequila Mockingbird, Boo Radley’s, Dirty Land, King of Snake, Revival and Black and White Coffee Cartel offer up tastes to suit any palate.
Christchurch's oldest and best known pizza place, Spagalimis has joined the Victoria St contingent in the former Harlequin House building, and is mere moments away from the Commons. Technically on Kilmore Street, this community initiative was home to a venue made entirely of wooden pallets, and is now home to a range of food trucks and regular community based events. It’s an expression of can-do, creative Christchurch at its best.
If Victoria Street isn’t enough to satisfy your hunger and thirst – and if you can make it past the food trucks to stroll through Victoria Square – you will find another street that has bloomed in recent times.
"The Most Beautiful Street in New Zealand"
Arguably nowhere in the central city has returned to postquake life as fully formed as New Regent Street. Christchurch’s iconic and historic paved street is home to a diversity of shops, cafes and bars.
With the sucessful restoration of the 100 year old Isaac Theatre Royal around the corner (thanks in no part to famous patron Sir Ian McKellan) offering a range of world class acts, and the tram running straight and true through the centre of New Regent Street, it’s back on the map and ready for business.
The street itself is notable as it has managed to keep its Spanish Mission style heritage, and offers a glimpse into a Christchurch that has been predominantly lost in the aftermath of the earthquakes. Naming itself, “the only heritage street in Christchurch”, and even “New Zealand’s most beautiful street”, it has an abundance of attitude with an offering to match.
Groovy glasses? Done. Sushi? If caffeine and quality food offerings are on your list then you’ll love cafes such as Caffeine Lab, Moko, Coffee Lovers, Stir, and Shop 8.
All the while browse artworks, jewellery – and especially the renowned Young’s Jewellers or Rowena Watson Designs - souvenirs and fashion. For the adventurous get a tattoo at Expression Tattoo, or relax and pamper yourself at Nspyre or Lizzy Lu.
During the day hop on the tram from new Regent Street to enjoy a historic sightseeing tour, as well as being able to hop on and off at 17 city locations during the loop which includes Cathedral Junction, Avon River, Gothic-style Arts Centre, the Canterbury Museum and more. You're also just a block away from the super fab Margaret Mahy Family Playground.
You might even want to add an extra day or two onto your visit to make sure you have the time to experience it all!