It always amazes me just how much you can see of a place in just a weekend and Christchurch has everything you need for an amazing weekend away.
Christchurch has always had a little bit of my heart. There is so much to love about Christchurch. There are the flat plains of the city that stretch for miles and the gridded roads that make finding your way on foot so easy. There are the amazing parks and public spaces, the heritage buildings and of course the people. Those wonderful, tenacious Cantabrians.
So when my best friend had her 40th in June we decided to not only go and celebrate with her, but also to have a little mini break in Christchurch ourselves.
I always forget how close Christchurch is – they say an hour and a half from Auckland but really it’s only just over an hour in the air. Which is great for a nervous flyer who needs a few wines (thanks Jetstar for the inflight wines) and a short flight to convince me not to just drive!
We arrived with a few of said Jetstar wines under our belt and headed out to Vesuvio – a quirky little Jazz & Tapas Bar with some seriously amazing platters. The decor in this place is awesome. The walls are papered with pages from the Christchurch Star and the stairs up to the library on the top floor are just amazing!
It was also just a short walk away from Hotel Montreal where we were staying for the weekend. So short that we didn’t even mind the minus 3 degree walk (or that could have been the cocktails!)
For us when we are looking for a place to stay when it’s just the two of us we look for more than just a bed. We want somewhere that’s a bit different, has a great bar for a quiet drink at night, in a brilliant location and makes you feel really special. It’s a big ask and Hotel Montreal ticked every one of those boxes and then some – you can find out more about why we loved Hotel Montreal over here.
A short stroll from Hotel Montreal you will find two of my other loves.
The first is Hagley Park – a 400 acre park flanked by the Avon River. My advice – if you are ever in Christchurch at Sunrise on a Winters morning – head here.
The second is the Arts Centre. With a collection of buildings dating back to 1880 and owned in trust by the people of Christchurch there is a mix of old and new history as the Arts Centre undergoes its $300 million rebuild. It’s one of my favourite places to wander…
This time however we decided to go a bit further still. We hired a car for 24 hours from Avis (James preferred car – a V6 Holden) for just $75 and started our adventure.
The plan was to head to Methven where James spent a year living at The Blue Pub while on a contract fixing hail damaged cars in Ashburton. As usual though we got a bit side tracked on the way and a one hour trip ended up taking us 5 hours before we finally wound up at the Blue Pub – but what an adventure on the way!
Of course along the way we got hungry so we decided to stop at the first interesting place that we saw. Which happened in our case to be the Dunsandel cafe and store.
Located 40km out of Christchurch it’s an endearing mix of an old fashioned country store and a cafe and even has its own post office!
Second detour – the Rakaia Gorge. Towering snow covered mountains, braided aqua rivers and frozen beaches – this was a destination to be missed and there is more about it over here.
After that saw an interesting sign for Lake Coleridge so we decided to follow it. A few dirt roads later and we ended up here – there’s a whole story about it over here.
Finally, after a story of a very unfortunate trout that James one encountered in Methven and many more stops for photos, we end up in Methven for a very late lunch at the Blue Pub.
Back to Hotel Montreal for a wee nightcap in the Polo Bar and some well deserved rest before getting up before sunrise to go and take photos with the other keen photographers at New Brighton Pier.
I’d never been before but I’d seen loads of photos and was keen to see it in real life. It doesn’t disappoint and is one of those places where timing really is everything so head out at sunrise if you can.
Drop the rental car off (it was quite muddy by this point!) and head off for coffee with my Godfather before jumping on a plane (another wine thanks Jetstar) and heading off home.
Thanks Christchurch for another sensational weekend.