Where do celebs celebrate summer?

Jason Gunn and his family are regulars at the Raspberry Cafe in Tai Tapu.
Jason Gunn and his family are regulars at the Raspberry Cafe in Tai Tapu.
Actress/singer Ali Harper rates Akaroa as her favourite summer destination.
Actress/singer Ali Harper rates Akaroa as her favourite summer destination.
Jamie Bennett, chef and co-founder of the Christchurch Farmers’ Market, takes his family to Orton Bradley Park.
Jamie Bennett, chef and co-founder of the Christchurch Farmers’ Market, takes his family to Orton Bradley Park.
Simon Barnett spends quality time with daughter Lily wandering along the beach in Redcliffs.
Simon Barnett spends quality time with daughter Lily wandering along the beach in Redcliffs.
For Jodi Wright, founder of the World Buskers Festival, the Harry Ell Track is perfect on a summer's day.
For Jodi Wright, founder of the World Buskers Festival, the Harry Ell Track is perfect on a summer's day.

We asked a few local personalities to share their favourite summer spots with us.

Jason Gunn, radio and TV personality - Raspbery Cafe

We live out Tai Tapu/Lincoln way and if we're spoilt enough to have some free time on a beautiful summer's day, we'll head down to the Raspberry Café.  We like to grab a table outside. Sitting out there in the beautiful garden, eating one of their amazing berry dishes - it's like a smoothie, with yoghurt or ice-cream - that just screams "summer" for me. We love those berry dishes. I think the Gunn family pretty much keep that operation going, we eat so many of them.

We have a big family. Three daughters - Eve, 23, Grace, 18, Faith, 14, - and one son, Louis, 9. With so many of us, there's never a dull moment, so you're always trying to squeeze things in. Dining is a great time for the family; an important time. It's a time when we can actually sit down and have a conversation.

If we're going to the Raspberry Café, then we're all in. Nobody wants to miss out. We like to head down there for brunch - the whole lot of us. They have big, long tables outside that everyone can fit around and you can sit out there with the sun shining. It's a place to feel relaxed - we often go for an hour and end up staying for two or three.

Over the years, we've celebrated birthdays and other special occasions there, so it's become a special place for us. We go down there if we have visitors. We've taken most of the significant people in our lives down there at some stage. Like anything, it's so often about the people you have with you. 

And there's always someone at the table who says "hey, haven't we got it good". And they're right. I always think "where in the world could you be this close to a town and yet feel so far from everywhere?" Sitting out in the café garden, you feel like you're really out in the country. It's what I love about Tai Tapu.

If we don't have time for a trip to the Raspberry Café, then we'll often head to Hillyer's of Lincoln. We'll grab a selection of their gourmet pies - the roast chicken, mashed potato and gravy pie is one of my favourites - then we just sit out in the garden and eat them, or head home and chill out together. 

Life is often about trying to catch moments, especially with a big family when everybody is busy. Dining is a great time to do that.

Ali Harper, actress/singer - Akaroa

I just love Akaroa. It's the perfect place for a day out from Christchurch. It's far enough to feel you've been away and near enough to get there and back in a day. 

I moved back to Christchurch three years ago with my husband, who is British.  He'd never been to Akaroa and I'd always talked to him about him and I was so excited to show him it. I was pregnant with Thomas at the time, so this was pre-babies. We headed over there and ate at a beautiful café, then walked around the shops, just taking it all in. Sometimes you can just imagine you're in France -   all the little streets with their French names. My husband loves it as much as I do. 

Now, we have two baby boys, Thomas, 3, and Archie, who is 18 months. And I have a 12-year-old daughter. The boys tend to go to sleep on the way there and they're recharged when we arrive, so there's less time spent in cafés and more picnics on the beach. When we arrive, we unload all the bits - the bikes, the pram, the picnic - and then we go down to the beach and lay down the towel. We'll have some sort of antipasto platter and sandwiches. It's just lovely. Sometimes, I'll leave my husband looking after the kids and go and have a nosy around the shops on my own.

One time we hired a bach over there for four nights. It was perfect; it had everything we needed and there was even a flying fox, which my daughter loved. It felt like the sun shone all the time we were there.

The great thing about Akaroa is there's just so much to do there and it's perfect for families. We've been cycling out round the peninsula. We've climbed the lighthouse. There are even some lovely art galleries. It's great. Next time we go we're planning to go out on the little pedal boats. And one time I definitely want to do the boat trip and go and see the dolphins. I might even swim with them.

Of course, the one thing you can't guarantee is the weather. A few weeks ago, it was a beautiful sunny day in Christchurch, so we thought we'd head over to Akaroa and have some fish and chips on the beach. It was all a bit of a disaster.  Archie was car sick on the way there and then, when we got over the hill, it was just raining and hailing. No sunshine in sight. We kept going because we thought it'd just pass over, but it didn't. When we got there, I ran out of the car to buy hot chips and we ate them in the car on the way home. Nobody got out of the car except me. But we'll still be going back.

Jamie Bennett, chef and co-founder of the Christchurch Farmers' Market - Orton Bradley Park

I don't have weekends off as much as I used to, but on a sunny summer Sunday, we love to head to Orton Bradley Park when we get the chance. 

It's a really nice drive around the peninsula to get there and it's just less crowded over that way. 

We'll usually have a barbecue and get out the cricket set for a bit of a game.  Then there's the river, where you can splash around and we pretend to hunt for eels. Afterwards, we'll head over to Diamond Harbour and have a giant icecream from the store there. 

We sometimes head to the beach down there, as well. We might play a bit of frisbee, or I love flying kites, so, if there's a bit of wind, as there usually is around Christchurch, I'll get the kite out. The kids get into the kites as well. My two girls like to fly regular kites and I'm teaching my oldest boy, who's 12, to kite-surf. Other times we'll walk around the rocks and look for crabs and things like that.

The barbecue is a big part of the day. I take an old charcoal barbecue, because I just find it more fun, more interactive. And you get more flavour from your food. It's all about getting a bit hands on with it, starting the fire, controlling the heat. It takes a bit more time. It also teaches the kids about fire. I suppose people see charcoal barbecues as hard work compared to the gas ones, but the flavours you get are great. I might do barbecued beef brisket or pulled pork.  Sometimes, we'll even go foraging. In a lot of the parks you can find herbs and stuff growing wild - things like watercress, fennel, Italian parsley. The kids love doing that, too. 

It's quite a family destination. When we head over there with the four kids and start playing cricket or something like that, we often end up getting together with three or four other families, so there'll be a whole group of you.

Last time we went over there it was a whole, extended family thing, so there were 20 or 30 of us; all the aunts and uncles and so on. It was great, as I got to see family members I hadn't seen for some time. 

I love the peace and quiet and, on a summer's day, you can hear the whirring of the cicadas. It's just beautiful out there on the peninsula.

Simon Barnett, radio presenter - Redcliffs beach

We like to wander along the beach in Redcliffs. 

I remember the first time we did it, the day was perfectly clear and I'd woken up particularly early - it was 7am. One of my daughters, Lily, 12, was awake, too, and I said "shall we go for a walk".  So, off we went for a walk. 

It was a beautiful day and, because it was early, there was this incredible silence.  You could just hear all the birds. I said to Lily how silent it was. And Lily said, "I don't like the silence, Dad. I like noise and bustle".  And that was the first of many great chats we've had on that walk. I remember thinking this is a special time.

Now, it's become a habit. We were evacuated from our house for about three months after the quake. We moved back in about April and, since then, we've been doing this walk almost every week, when the weather is fine. We'll start off by wandering down to The Spur Café. Lily will have a chocolate smoothie and I'll have a long black and then we'll just walk along the beach. I always insist she holds my hand and I'm going to carry on doing that until she's married.

Every week, we talk about different things. I'm a shocking talker; the kids tell me that all the time. I've always talked non-stop about everything. For me, the beach walk is just that great one-on-one time with my daughter; time to chat about anything and everything. 

We've invented a lot of games along the way, too. Just silly, fun things - walking like a seagull or fishing with a piece of string. We've never caught anything.

When you walk around the back, there's always a couple of fishermen sitting on the rock with their rods. And, occasionally, you'll see a person on one of those stand-up paddle boards. There's a wee park bench and you can head right out to Sumner. The water is always really clear and calm and we just sit there and look out.

In the film The Castle there's a scene where he walks out and he's just surveying the land and he says, "Ah, the serenity". That's how I feel when we're sitting there. It's just serene.

Jodi Wright, founder of the World Buskers Festival - Harry Ell Track

We are lucky to live in a beautiful place and there are still so many options of places to go on a summer's day. We've discovered new places [post-quake]. I've started walking the Harry Ell Track, from the Sign of the Kiwi near Victoria Park.

There is an area at the beginning of the Harry Ell that is full of eucalyptus trees, so you get a good 30 seconds of that great essence. Then there is an area of pine trees towards the end that reminds me of a Pacific Northwest [western North America] forest. Even though there are always a few batches of that bright yellow Scottish bloom that doesn't have a pleasant odour, it's easy to ignore the smell, because the scenery is so good.

There's a whole section in that trail that's a little bird sanctuary and you can spot all different types of birds. It's beautiful.  And there is always the opportunity to run into someone you know at the Ell.

I live in Sumner on the hill and one of my favourite places used to be just walking along the Captain Thomas Track. It was always so peaceful and you felt like you were having a bit of time out in the wilderness, but then right down the road there was this village. 

I first discovered it when somebody mentioned it to me about 10 or 12 years ago. You couldn't find it easily and they showed me the entrance to it. There weren't any stairs and it hadn't been really managed or maintained. You had to know where you were going. It had originally been built by a couple of volunteers, I think. It was directly across from Stoke or Colenso streets and it would take you up and go all the way around to the top of the Evans Pass Rd.  I would always cross the road and go down the other side. It was a few kilometres if you did the whole circuit. 

It was the most beautiful place and you could go so many spots along that trail, even all the way over to Lyttleton.

Sometimes, if the weather wasn't so great, it could be a challenge. At times you'd have to share the trail with ponies from the pony club, or sheep, or mountainbikers. Other times, it would just be full sun all the way up, but I had some of the best runs ever along that track.   

I remember the last time I walked it was a week or so before the quake. I was with my daughter and we finished it off with some great eggs benedict at the bistro. I sure miss that trail now. I guess it will be open again one day. I did walk across the top of it the other day and there are loads of boulders and stuff that have fallen down on to it. 

The Harry Ell Track is really just as beautiful as the Captain Thomas Track was - it's just a little more populated.