100 reasons to love Christchurch

Last updated 12:28 25/10/2012
Port Hills and Lyttelton
John Kirk-Anderson

WHAT'S NOT TO LOVE?: The hills, the views, the harbour are all reasons to love Christchurch.

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We are unashamedly one-eyed when it comes to loving Christchurch. To celebrate Avenues' 100th issue, we have sat and counted the ways.

Our list of 100 favourite reasons to love this city isn't in any order and it is subjective, but finding reasons was easy.

1. Roaming the Port Hills, be it on foot, by bike or by car. They are the landmark hills of Christchurch and we love them.

2. Spending an afternoon at the City Mall. The open spaces and colourful containers at Re:Start have given the city centre new life in a very fresh way, with several cafés for pit stops.

3. From an iconic architectural statement to a civil defence base, the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu is even more than an outstanding centre of fine art.

4. A gloriously decadent lunch at Pegasus Bay Winery. The award-winning restaurant focuses on using quality local ingredients matched with their superb wines.

5. Enjoying all the Botanic Gardens offer. From the colourful splashes of the rose garden to the towering trees of the central lawns and family areas, our city gardens show nature at its best.

6. Strolling by the Avon River's sun-dappled waters or relaxing on its green banks. As the lineal heart of the blueprint for the new Christchurch, it's another significant part of our city.

7. Gap Filler. From community chess to dance-o-mats and gap golf, the team at Gap Filler has been working away to fill those vacant city spaces with a little life, light and happiness.

8. New Regent St. Completed in 1931, this picturesque street of Spanish mission-style buildings was one of the biggest South Island construction projects during the Depression. We can't wait to see it open again.

9. The 142-year-old Canterbury Museum continues to impress with travelling displays such as the World of WearableArt Up Close, and permanent exhibits such as the reincarnated Bluff paua shell house.

10. The picturesque setting at Mona Vale. The historic homestead has had better days, but its surrounds are still a welcome respite from the city's hustle and bustle.

11. The Colombo. The destination for material swatches and sewing supplies, the old Spotlight mall is enticing foodies and fashionistas with its European-inspired makeover.

12. Spending a hot summer's day at the northernmost bay on Banks Peninsula, Taylors Mistake. Its clear, clean waters and shelter from the nor'wester make it a popular spot.

13. Stealing the Ellerslie International Flower Show from Auckland! No, we love it because The Garden City is the perfect place to celebrate all things floral.

14. The unfettered enthusiasm and can-do attitude behind the Cassels' projects. Alasdair Cassels is not letting anything get in his way and we think what he's doing for our city is fantastic.

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15. Counting down to Cup and Show Week, when the A&P Show brings the country to town and the racecourses are awash with fillies and spilt Lindauer.

16. Snacking on a scrumptious bocadillo at Mosaic by Simo. Chef Simo Abbari certainly knows how to infuse flavour into every dish (or Moroccan sandwich).

17. Visiting Dame Ngaio Marsh's museum house, Marton Cottage, in Valley Rd, Cashmere, and seeing how one of New Zealand's most famous authors lived.

18. Sipping coffee and enjoying the laid-back vibe at the Addington Coffee Co-op. Its fair-trade ethos and coffee-making finesse make it a hot spot for a wide range of people.

19. Watching the sterling efforts of Speight's Coast to Coast entrants, especially as they cross the finish line in Sumner and receive a well-earned beer from Robin Judkins.

20. Chowing down on an Obama sandwich at New York Deli. The best BLT in town.

21. Bic, Boh and Pearl Runga. The beautiful, talented sisters who grew up in Hornby and have each made their mark on the music world.

22. Having a siphon coffee at Black Betty. Owner Hamish Evans, also the man behind much-loved coffee brand Switch, has plans to open another café and we can't wait.

23. It's hard to find a Cantabrian without fond memories of Ballantynes, which has survived fire and earthquakes to offer a world-class cosmetics hall, an impressive fashion atrium and the homewares we crave.

24. Presenting someone with a box of the prettiest cupcakes imaginable. The Cupcake Collection's* treats look almost too good to eat. number. * an earlier version incorrectly called it the Cupcake Parlour, we apologise for the error.

25. Nature-watching at the Travis Wetlands. Fifty-five species of birds and a diverse range of native wetland plants can be found here. And it's all easy to get to, being accessible by wheelchair or pushchair.

26. The comedic duo of David McPhail and former Avenues editor Jon Gadsby. Stars of the stage and the faces of Letters To Blanchy and McPhail and Gadsby, they're Kiwi icons.

27. Edesia is the Roman Goddess of food who presides over banquets, which means the award-winning restaurant in Show Pl, Addington, is well named. It's one of Christchurch's finest.

28. The duo behind MisteR. Mickey Lin and Ra Thomson design seriously stylish clothing for men and women, right here in Christchurch.

29. Daffodils. It's impossible to walk through the daffodil woodlands at Hagley Park without feeling uplifted.

30. One of the people helping give local musicians a stage, Al Park, is also a musician himself. Al's Bar might be closed, but music venue The Park will get the party started at The Tannery, Woolston.

31. Watching a show at The Court Theatre and realising how bad television really is. Delivering high-calibre live theatre since 1971, it's a powerhouse of talent, with The Court Jesters acing improv theatre.

32. Hagley Park. These 165 hectares of green space provide us with so much. Most residents have joined the crowds at Classical Sparks and Coca-Cola Christmas in the Park, or watched a show in the Christchurch Events Village. Sportspeople push their limits, walkers and runners get a breath of fresh air, the list goes on ...

33. Perusing stalls packed with Canterbury's best produce at Christchurch Farmers' Market at Riccarton House on Saturday mornings and heading home with bags full of delicacies, from goat cheese to croissants.

34. The Chalice. Neil Dawson's sculpture was slammed by many architects and artists in 2000 - and even likened to a toilet flume - but it has endured as a symbol and we miss seeing it, especially bathed in blue light at night.

35. Bottle Lake Forest. How can you not love 800 hectares of pine forest and coastal sand dunes within a stone's throw of the city centre?

36. Watching the green spaces of Christchurch being transformed by displays of intricate lanterns to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The Chinese Lantern Festival, which lit up Victoria Square from 2000 until the earthquakes, was just as festive in North Hagley Park this year.

37. Buying parma ham and freshly cut salami at Mediterranean Food Company, then eating a pizza in the café.

38. The inspiring achievements and attitude of Paralympian swimmer Sophie Pascoe. She's a golden girl, even without the six gold medals.

39. Tin Man, a likeable creation of Tony Cribb, has developed a life of his own in paintings and merchandise in gift shops.

40. A pizza and pilsner at The Brewery in Woolston. Watch this former tannery space - it's about to grow and gentrify.

41. Having a picnic in Victoria Park and enjoying the sweeping views over the city and the Canterbury Plains to a soundtrack of bellbirds.

42. Alchemy truffles, decadent dates and dreamy hot chocolates from She Chocolat. Well worth a trip over to the hill to Governor's Bay.

43. Finding the perfect gift at The General Store, Toi Toi, or Hapa. These locally owned shops at Re:Start mean you never have to give socks again. Find Kiwiana without the kitsch or that special something for someone who has it all.

44. Lyttelton Farmers' Market. Since 2005 people have been following their noses to Lyttelton Main School on Saturday mornings, to stalls packed with foodie temptations and a welcoming community.

45. Drinking cocktails and downing yakitori dishes at The Monday Room. This uber-classy establishment is a great addition to the cityscape.

46. J'aime Les Macarons for pistachio, raspberry and mojito macarons that are crisp on the outside and gooey inside.

47. The independently owned Hollywood 3 cinema in Sumner, where the show must go on - since 1938. It has hosted many a local and international film festival, too.

48. Roger Sutton. As chief executive of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, he's got one of the toughest jobs in town, but he comes across as cool, calm and charming.

49. Walking the world-class coastal Godley Head Track from Taylors Mistake with stunning views of Lyttelton Harbour, stopping off at the historic cottages of Boulder Bay.

50. Porters Ski Area. Christchurch's closest ski field is great for learners and professionals alike. With plans to open a $500-million year-round alpine village in 2015, it's set to become a ski bunny's dream field.

51. Riccarton Rotary Market. Sundays wouldn't be the same without the South Island's largest outdoor market taking over Riccarton Racecourse.

52. It's not summner in Christchurch without the World Buskers Festival. The wacky antics of local and international star performers have audiences in stitches, or in shock.

53. Hiring a canoe from Antigua Boatsheds and then enjoying a well-deserved BLT and coffee at the café.

54. Jonny Schwass. One of the Christchurch hospitality scene's big personalities. All he touches - Gorilla, Schwass In A Box and Charcoal Relief Unit - turns to gold.

55. Hitting the slopes at Mt Hutt, an hour from the city. It's also a great summer destination, with plenty of walking tracks, native birds and the picturesque town of Methven nearby.

56. Phillip Kraal. Knock this former Le Bon Bolli and Crumpet Club chef down and he just comes back stronger, with Bamboozle in Sumner.

57. The down-to-earth Christchurch star Anika Moa, who graced our cover on November 2009, issue 67.

58. Enjoying The Twisted Hop brews and getting excited about the two new bars set to open in Christchurch.

58. Spoiling someone with a gift from Redcurrent. With an eclectic mix of homewares and accessories, it's the place to shop for something to give your home or yourself a little va-va-voom.

60. Jo Seagar. This telly chef, author and owner of Seagars at Oxford has given us good reason for a country drive.

61. Skipping dinner and going straight to Devil's Dream Cake and an affogato at Strawberry Fare.

62. Vic's Café for the best loaves in town, mean make-your-own sandwiches and a divine berry smoothie.

63. Barbara Lee. She's been at the forefront of New Zealand fashion for more than 30 years and has kept on designing, despite losing several premises to quakes.

64. Watching a game at the latest AMI stadium or catching a show at CBS Canterbury Arena.

65. Le Pet Toke (tea salad) and crème brûlée flaming with Cointreau, from The Bodhi Tree, serving Burmese delicacies in Bryndwr.

66. Hand-feeding the giraffes at Orana Wildlife Park, or taking a trip through the lion enclosure. This visitor attraction also makes serious contributions to captive breeding and conservation programmes.

67. Popping into Vino Fino to find a celebratory bottle of wine, participate in weekly tastings, or pick the brains of the knowledgeable staff.

68. The mighty Crusaders. Where would we be without the likes of Richie McCaw and Dan Carter, all under the watchful eye of Todd Blackadder? Go the red and black!

69. The Wizard. Like time itself, he's just always been here and, despite "retiring" years ago, he still pops up to champion causes the city over.

70. Sinking into a sofa with a view of the sea at the New Brighton Library.

71. Blowing off the cobwebs with a walk around the rim of the Halswell Quarry. Superb views, big blue skies and history all around.

72. Dame Malvina Major. She is not only New Zealand opera royalty and a Member of the Order of New Zealand, but she puts energy into nurturing new talent.

73. Orton Bradley Park. With picnic areas, a rhododendron garden and an arboretum, the park is a legacy the residents of Christchurch are still enjoying.

74. SoMo. The area south of Moorhouse Ave, dubbed by Lonely Planet as the city's "funkiest and most exciting post-earthquake neighbourhood", continues to blossom.

75. The Student Volunteer Army. Muscle power, shovels and wheelbarrows shifting more than 360,000 tonnes of liquefaction after February last year's quake, and the efforts continue. This month, people earned tickets to the army-sponsored The Concert by completing four hours of community service. Now this is a force to be reckoned with.

76. Exercising the dogs, or the children, at The Groynes. A weekday visit feels as though you have the huge private reserve to yourself, while weekend gatherings in the picnic areas are very popular.

77. Feeling as though you have stepped into another country at Church Corner, Upper Riccarton. Ethnic eateries offer good-value Chinese, Japanese, Turkish and Thai food, and a bubble tea from Tea'sme is a must.

78. Hayley Westenra. This Christchurch songbird might have flown the coop, but she'll always be one of the city's finest exports.

79. Getting lost in a story at Scorpio Books. A must destination for any book-lover, the independent book store was established in 1932 and is chock full of fascinating books.

80. Canterbury Cheesemongers' fabulous selection of New Zealand and imported cheeses that will put you off the supermarket stuff for life.

81. Whether it's home care, hospital help or hospice shops, Nurse Maude goes above and beyond to support us into our later years and through hard times.

82. Kelven Scott, the blind busker who sang and played wind instruments in Cathedral Square for years, has brought his brand of music to Re:Start.

83. Catching an art-house movie at Alice Cinematheque and taking home a DVD from Alice in Videoland for afters.

84. A chocolate and berry icecream from Redcliffs Dairy, a stone's throw from the sea.

85. Ryan Nelsen. No matter what strip he's wearing, we never forget that this All Whites captain came from our fair city.

86. We're certainly missing sipping Ginger Toms overlooking the Arts Centre, but Dux Live is doing a great job plugging the hole left by the original Dux de Lux, and Dux Dine is soon to follow.

87. Johnson's Grocers in Re:Start. With shelves stocked with everything from Jammie Dodgers to Yorkshire tea, this most English of stores has treats from Old Blighty covered.

88. Watching the picture-postcard scene of punts floating down the Avon River. Punting on the Avon has become an iconic Christchurch business and its tranquil tours around the red zone see it back on the map.

89. The spirit of Canterbury. It is truly amazing how hope, optimism and determination have flourished in the wake of a natural disaster. When the going gets tough, Cantabrians only get stronger.

90. Whisky Galore for great single malts from Scotland and staff who are passionate about whisky.

91. A weekend getaway in Akaroa, where fine food, artisan producers and a harbour cruise make frenetic city life feel far away.

92. Diana, Lady Isaac. A no-fuss philanthropist, she's a major arts patroness and also helps save endangered native birds from the brink of extinction.

93. The beautiful Banks Peninsula. Whether it's a scenic trip to Diamond Harbour, a stroll down the jetty at Governor's Bay, or a secluded surf in Hickory Bay, it is sure to be a spectacular outing.

94. Leaving Marshland Rd vegetable shops laden with fresh produce straight from the ground or orchard. So cheap, too.

95. Bill Hammond. He's done so much since taking up a paint brush full-time in 1981, but quirky bird-humans are his trademark.

96. The Coffee House for a superb latte and a cake after a walk in the Botanic Gardens.

97. Godwits at Southshore Spit Reserve. At the end of summer, these winged champions fly to Alaska, via the Yellow Sea, to breed, then return in September in a record-breaking, non-stop, 11,000km trip. Christchurch is obviously a bird paradise, too.

98. Jax Hamilton. She might be an English import, but we're claiming this MasterChef finalist as our very own. She can cook, write and has the coolest email sign-offs, such as "toodle pip" and "Innit Tho' am I Bovvered!"

99. The epitome of quirky, Wunderbar in Lyttelton is as iconic as the much-missed Volcano Café and the Timeball Station.

100. Easter buns and prize-winning pies from Copenhagen Bakery.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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