Christchurch Design Guide – long version

I recently published an article on Design*Sponge about my wonderful hometown Christchurch. This is the full one! So if you are coming here you will probably be interested in the loooong one. I will try to keep this one a bit more updated… new places, closed places and the like. So if you chch peeps think something should pop up here… just comment!

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Christchurch is a small city in the south island of far away New Zealand. Surrounded by stunning scenery, whimsical old mining towns and plenty of tourist attractions, if you make it all the way down here to NZ I have no doubt its not just to see my little home town! So if i was traveling around a remote country looking at towering mountains and eating in little tearooms and restaurants on the road, what in a city would a designer like person miss the most? MMMmmm easy, coffee, shops, well designed pretty things, yummy food and the buzz of the city. I will do my best to inform you on the best places to go to feel in touch with civilization once again.

Christchurch Central City

BOTANICAL GARDENS To help with your transition into civilization I recommend a stroll through the gardens, its completely free with many themed gardens and lush green lawns, plus a fishy looking fountain. Don’t neglect the greenhouses, warm and interesting.

Weave your way from the Gardens to the Arts Center and if this is a weekend it will be full of Market stalls!  The Markets run from 10am until 4pm on Saturday and Sunday. The old buildings that used to house our university are now full of permanent shops that stock mostly locally designed and made goods. Some places you even get to peer into their messy workshops. This is where you will be able to buy things that remind you of your trip here, but are not the typical tack you can get in souvenir shops. Try some fudge in fudge cottage if you need a sugary treat. The shops and galleries are open 10am to 5pm, Monday to Sunday.

COOKING WITH GAS is a restaurant with YUMMMY (be warned… expensive!) food situated across the road from the Arts Center

THE DUX DE LUX (the dux) Popular with the locals for its beer and meals, but mostly the extensive outdoor seating in a great location, if you like ginger beer try theirs, very refreshing. They also have the occasional band playing on Fridays and Saturdays.

Over the road and around the corner from the Arts Center is the new Gallery. If you like Art and what not head in that direction. Open 10am to 5pm daily. Late night Wednesday until 9pm. Worcester Boulevard, Christchurch. Great big glass building with sculptures outside. Can’t miss it.

The Center of Contemporary Art often has some “less famous” but just as cool artists on show.
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Friday, 10am – 5pm.  Saturday – Sunday, 12pm – 4pm

Ok now lets head into town, walk/drive/skip towards the cathedral, take Hereford street east! On the way you will see these little favourites:

For the bibliophile, I usually feel like I am being sucked into a black hole when i walk in here. “Oh that looks interesting, and that and that…” Interior Design books are at the back, if you make it that far…. 79 Hereford Street, Mon – Thu 8:30am – 5:30pm, Fri 8:30am – 7:00pm, Sat 9:30am – 4:00pm, Sun 10:00am – 3:00pm

Across the road from Scorpios is cafe and a coffee roaster. Small but delightfully simple, good coffee small snack, passionate barista.

Antiques and vintage clothes, these guys were around since before ‘vintage’ was fashionable.

If you walked up Cashel Street you would see these places:

Up some old wooden stairs is one the shops that begun the gifty, handmade wares craze in Christchurch. Alot of the work has a NZ feel. Get something for anyone from babies to funky grandmas. I often covet designer jewlery in the wavy wooden cabinets, some ‘manly’ stuff for the guys often in stock. Coffee shop right next door with a view of the river and street from the windows for the tired traveller.

Vintage Home ware, Antique Furniture and some clothing. Owned by the Tete a Tete peeps. Upstairs, look our for a cute sign, very close to the Vault.

Clothing, glassware, gifts and art all with the New Zealand theme, classy and well presented.

Stands for “New Objects Of Desire” this is a new Furniture and Homeware shop.  Scandinavian influence, closest stab at competing with IKEA. (No Ikea.. I KNOW.) This is at the end of the pedestrian mall, next to the hotels. 141 Cashel Street, Mon-Thu 8.30-5.30pm, Friday 9-6pm, Sat 10-5pm, Sun 9-4pm.

So concludes the two streets of interest closest to The Cathedral. Next, still in walking distance are “the Lanes” a bit like a mini melbourne we have a few hidden gems in amongst some lanes and alley ways recently redone with a lovely vibe. What was once a bunch of alley ways known only to residents that lived close by, is now a thriving community of shops, restaurants, bars and cafes. A write up on it for you here .

Around and About these lanes are some gems not to be neglected:

A popular Jazz bar.

An old school three story second book store, floor to ceiling books, magazines, records and anything else one might put in the book category. Smiths has even been used for the occasional fashion photo shoot.

Very Popular with the locals for good reason, best coffee, best breakfast and atmosphere second to none. Been around since I can remember starting to drink coffee. MMmmm yes gotta be a favorite of mine.

A treasure trove of handmade goodies. Photography, cards, home wares and more. Great stop for some crafty handmade inspiration.

Delicious Beer brewed onsite.

A cafe with friendly service and good coffee.

Bar and Resturant, featuring the occassional band or DJ.

A small beautiful gallery run by design savy collectors. Vintage and New Furniture and Homewares, 179 High street.

Specializes in Vintage Ceramics and lighting. However they have a lovely selection of furniture and odds and ends also. 151 High St Christchurch, Mon – Sat 11:00am – 4:00pm

Fabrics from international, local and australian designers.

For beautiful designer jewelry

A German Delicatessen, Bar, cafe and restaurant. Fast becoming a local ‘hot spot’, good sausage.

Pizzeria and bar. Nice atmosphere. 21 Latimer Square, Christchurch

Nom nom nom! 96 Hereford Street, Hours: Mon-Sun 5pm-Late. Lunch Mon- Fri 11.30am-2.30pm


Through the tunnel is Lyttelton Harbour a busy port with much comings and goings. Its a beautiful spot whose claim to fame is it was the location of Peter Jacksons “The frighteners” there are scenic walks to be explored. The shops and community have a funky atmosphere all its own. Be warned the opening times for some places are a bit sporadic. London Street and Oxford Streets are the places to meander.

Lyttelton Markets
On oxford street in the school the markets are held every Saturday from 10am – 1pm. Food, vintage and handmade stalls. Fresh, organic produce.

Lyttelton Coffee Company
Yummy food, good coffee and views. Quite visually interesting… I find myself just looking around at all the little things. London Street. Quite often has live music.

Fun Crazy bar, full of weird and wacky things with the occasional band, pool table and foosball. A fun night out!


Antiques and Vintage
Due to our lack in affordable well designed new furniture we have a thriving antiques and vintage retail presence. Here are some nice ones if you are in the area.

Antiques Furniture and Homeware, nicely presented. 88 Wilsons Rd, St Martins. Wed-Fri 11am – 6pm, Sat 11am – 4pm, Sun – Tues Closed

Antique Furniture and vintage goodies. Lots to chose from. 369 St Asaph Street, Monday – Friday 10-5pm Saturday 10-3pm

The cafe culture is alive and well in Christchurch, expect good coffee and great service, if not there are plenty that offer that, so go somewhere else.

For a view of the city and yummy food. Just up the road some more is Victoria Park for more views. 127 Hackthorne Rd, Mon – Fri 7.30am – 4pm, Sat & Sun 8am – 5pm

Run by one of the best cafe bosses ever (yeah i worked for this lady once) ‘under the red’ has delicious organic/free range food. Always good coffee and fab teas. Closed on Mondays!

Event finder : for events in New Zealand

Local Vanguard : Really nice blog on Christchurch

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5 thoughts on “Christchurch Design Guide – long version”

  1. my boyfriend (a chch native) and i are travelling from london to nz for christmas – i am an avid knitter and i would love to know if you have any recommendations for independent yarn/knitting shops?



  2. Sadly one thing NZ lacks is lovely independant yarn stores. We have quite a few online stores that i hope will build money up and become brick and mortar ones. But for now in yarn emergencies there are knitworlds across NZ: They usually have a good selection – the decor is less than inspirational, but they sell the good stuff and the nice cheapy stuff, plus needles ect. Bring your nice needles with you though… there is not a huge selection of those… yet (its growing! I have noticed them trying to get more in.)

    And those who sell yarn aswell as the knitted goods. The arts centre in chch has a few stores with hand spun and machine spun mixes. If you are road tripping down the north island there is the country store for this place: the possum and merino mix is soft and lovely to knit with and does not pill.

    If you are going through Ashburton you have to stop at Ashfords Its pretty dreamy – they have a selection of yarns but its more the overall feel of the place – all yarn, all colour and craft – with lots of its history on display. I am usually more excited about visiting this place than the end journey of where we are going on the way through!

    There is a NZ ravelry group that probably has more ideas. There maybe some nice stores off the beaten track that i have not found yet. 🙂

    Have a great journey down here, I hope we give you good weather and fun times!

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