The city’s central heart is changing at an unprecedented pace, as new people, places and events breathe life into the four avenues. Now, city leaders have launched a campaign to encourage residents to reconnect with the city centre and stimulate economic activity throughout the winter months.
The Explore Christchurch campaign encourages residents to get out and about and explore the latest events and offerings within the heart of the city.
ChristchurchNZ General Manager – Marketing, Brand & Communications Tim Loftus says the campaign was launched in response to requests from local businesses to help stimulate economic activity within the CBD.
“The Explore Christchurch campaign is part of our strategy to profile Christchurch globally, by starting at home,” Tim says.
“Winter can be a challenging time for our newest retail and hospitality operators in the central city. We’re hoping to help change that by inspiring our residents to get out and explore our vibrant and evolving city centre.”
ChristchurchNZ launched the Explore Christchurch CBD Winter campaign last month as a collaborative initiative between the public and private sectors to help drive residents back into in the central city.
The umbrella campaign aims to engage and inspire residents by using the popular ChristchurchNZ Pockets of Awesome channel to highlight special events, merchant offers and activities across the city.
Residents are encouraged to include the hashtag #ExploreChristchurch when sharing what they love best about their CBD with friends and across their social networks
Amid the concrete and glass of Christchurch’s sparkling new city, the CBD is emerging as a space that packs a culinary punch. Because, although deciding where to have dinner can be a tough decision, the central city has become a hotspot for the hungry with all types of foods and cuisines including Thai, Mexican, Indian, Italian, Japanese and everything in between.
The city doesn’t just have a plethora of cuisines to offer hungry people, it also has unique options that give customers a different dining experience. For instance, The Little High Eatery, located on Saint Asaph Street, is a classy food court that houses eight local and family-run businesses. Basically, it’s a one-stop shop for filling your mouth with tasty food – Thai, sushi, pizza, burgers and more!
Just around the corner on High Street, The Monday Room is another eatery that has made a splash in the central city dining space. You’ll feast your eyes on a range of elegantly prepared, meat and seafood-focused dishes such as braised lamb shoulder served with a mouth-pleasing mixture of orange, watercress, mint and pomegranate.
The establishment encourages its patrons to have a social dining experience while they savor shareable-sized meals. Its distinguished ‘Trust the Chef’ menu, where the chef crafts special dishes for each customer, sets it apart from other establishments in the area.
Meanwhile, a couple of blocks down, Welles Street too is making its culinary mark after local firm Box 112 repurposed six former industrial buildings, including a former blacksmith’s workshop, transforming them into a complex of artisan businesses known as The Welder after a former tenant.
Interesting, quirky and raw, the spaces in The Welder are engaging and authentic, headed by operators who have a shared vision for raising the standard of healthy, locally produced food in the city.
New Regent Street too is a culinary destination worthy of its prestige, with cafés, bars and restaurants making their commercial homes here, including 27 Steps, Moko Café, Caffeine Lab, Sushi Sachi, Shop Eight Food and Wine, Coffee Lovers and The Last Word.
Keep in mind that these are just some of the examples of the many eateries around the central city. Christchurch’s inner circle has a lot to offer, you just have to be willing to experience it. So the next time your stomach starts rumbling, step out of your comfort zone and into the CBD to try something new.
From a conservative post-Victorian city to a bold and innovative urban hot spot, Christchurch has emerged as a province that packs a proverbial punch.
The exciting new spaces that continue to open up in the heart of the city are driving this exciting change and commanding attention, not just on a national level but also an international one as the central city plays prestigious host to increasing tourism numbers.
Yes, it’s true; Christchurch has a long way to go, but the metamorphosis at street level is palpable as we witness the rebirth of a cosmopolitan city characterised by buildings and businesses with personality.
We’re certainly not short of inspiration when it comes to finding something to do within the Four Avenues and even more so closer to the city’s heart. The internal courtyards and winding alleys that are emerging within the greater developments, such as the BNZ Centre, are packed with incredible offerings, both large and small, the operators of which are putting heart and soul into reinvesting in our city.
The Crossing developer Philip Carter has played an integral role in this evolution, now his development The Crossing is one of the strongest drawcards within the central space, with more than 60 retail tenancies, combined with hospitality, office space and a 630-space onsite car park.
One of Christchurch’s largest private developments, the $140 million project covers 44,000sqm across different levels within a hectare block between Cashel Mall, and Colombo, Lichfield and High streets. And it continues to grow.
Now two of Christchurch’s most popular modern Asian restaurants are joining the development and returning to the central city seven years after the Canterbury earthquakes, marking almost 25 years of friendship for two local men.
The Crossing is the new home to Alfred Wong’s refurbished Cookai (situated pre-earthquake in Cashel Street, with former sister restaurant Blue Fish in nearby Cathedral Junction), returning to town after operating from premises in Riccarton. Adjoining 80-seat Cookai and its renowned sushi train is Joyful Express, both designed by Alfred’s best friend Jimmy Hsu.
It marks the beginning of the next exciting era for Alfred and Jimmy, who have been friends since the serial entrepreneurs met in the early 1990s as Papanui High School students.
During Canterbury’s rebuild period, the pair made sure they got away each year travelling and gathering ideas for the eventual move back into the city. Jimmy also worked with other restaurant entrepreneurs, designing their refits in Christchurch, Queenstown and South Canterbury, including The Camden Restaurant and Bar in Riccarton Road’s Clyde Building.
When choosing the central location for their new businesses, Alfred says he wanted to get away from what he saw as “vanilla mall culture” parts of Christchurch which had developed during the rebuild, instead yearning for a dynamic space back in the city that matched the vibrancy of the food.
“We’d been offered a number of potential locations, but it wasn’t until we saw the vivacity of The Crossing that we felt that the timing was right for Cookai to return to the city, joined by an adjacent and energised Joyful Express,” he says.
Cookai opens this week followed by the smaller neighbouring Joyful Express, opening in August 2018.
The central city is increasingly being reimagined in a creative context and this re-envisioning is taking place in a more literal sense with the Arts Centre’s latest tenant.
Repurposing waste wood into furniture, sculpture and jewellery is at the heart of Rekindle, which has just made its new creative home at the Arts Centre, as part of a six-month licence under the Life in Vacant Spaces scheme (LiVS).
Rekindle’s relationship with the Arts Centre began last year when the Arts Centre commissioned a communal table and benches for the level 1 landing in the Boys’ High building. The table was installed in February 2018 and was made using Ash logs sourced from Hagley Park, gifted to Rekindle by Christchurch City Council.
“The traditional methods used by Rekindle’s craftspeople are a wonderful addition to our arts community and the Life in Vacant Spaces Scheme aligns perfectly with the Arts Centre’s vision to be a home for creative entrepreneurs and a nurturing environment for start-ups,” Arts Centre Acting CEO Jane Parfitt says.
The tenancy gives Rekindle the opportunity to re-establish its Resourceful Skills workshops and bring back craft to the Arts Centre and city centre.
“We have long hoped to be at the Arts Centre, as we strongly believe in craft being an essential and prominent part of our city,” Rekindle Director Juliet Arnott says.
“We hope to provide many opportunities for Cantabrians to become involved in craft, including activities during the school holidays for young people to learn the art of traditional greenwood-working methods as well as free public workshops.”
The inner city’s trams are iconic Christchurch at its best. But the latest addition to Christchurch Attractions’ eye-catching fleet is Tram 1888 – a handsome blue R-class with a very colourful life.
Built in 1934 and leased from the Sydney Tramway Museum, Tram 1888 started life at the Fort Macquarie Depot – now the location of the Sydney Opera House. It was used on the city’s Watson’s Bay line until the Fort Macquarie Depot closed in 1955 and even received air raid precaution modifications to minimise window damage during World War II.
From 1955 to 1960, the tram was shuffled around Sydney depots until the body was written off and sold to a tobacco farmer in New South Wales, where it accommodated seasonal farm hands for 24 years until 1984, when the farmer donated the battered tram body to a local council interested in its preservation.
The restoration involved removing hundreds of nails that had been hammered into the inside of the body for coat hooks, lantern holders and clotheslines. The tram was furnished with original R-class seats before being put on display in Bondi Junction for five years. In 1993, it entered storage before the Sydney Tramway Museum took responsibility for it in 2000.
The museum shipped Tram 1888 to Bendigo, where it was restored to an operational level. In subsequent years, it was put on display in Melbourne, repainted and used on a tour around Melbourne’s tram system. In 2009, Tram 1888 was leased to Auckland’s Museum of Transport and Technology, before being leased to Christchurch Attractions late last year.
If you’ve ever been to a Showbiz Christchurch performance and been blown away by the on-stage performance, you’re seeing just a small fraction of the local talent that culminates in an end product of this calibre.
The 80-year-old community theatrical society stages three productions each year. The Saunders & Co 2018 season commences at the Isaac Theatre Royal with Wicked from 6-21 April; followed by Broadway Hitmen, a concert of Cole Porter and Andrew Lloyd Webber hits, from 13-15 July; and is completed by Les Misérables opening on 14 September.
Up to 100 people can be involved behind the scenes in just one show, volunteers who put hundreds of unpaid hours into their roles.
In Wicked’s on stage performance, you will see two leads (played by four actors on alternate nights), six principal roles, 16 ensemble cast and 15 dancers, with 16 backing vocalists and 18 orchestral performers in the pit. Backstage however, 100 equally important parts make it all come together.
Vicki Morris-Williamson has been volunteering for Showbiz Christchurch for 19 years and is part of a team responsible for ensuring hats and costumes are made show ready and fit the brief of Director Stephen Robertson.
Successful Broadway shows like Wicked, complete national and international tours before the rights to stage them are given to community theatre groups. Showbiz Christchurch is the first in New Zealand to get these rights to stage Wicked.
“The Showbiz Christchurch performance is a whole new production,” Vicki says.
“Stephen creates the best shows he can and is completely invested in bringing something special to the stage. He visualises exactly what he wants down to the smallest detail. We then start with the bones of the costumes, adding and improving everything, making it our own unique show.”
Vicki is currently living in a sea of green, as she works diligently to overhaul hats that came from an international production and create new ones for the Emerald City townsfolk in Wicked. Just about every member of the cast is on stage for this scene and every costume has a hat. That’s 35 hats, each representing Vicki’s work to realise Stephen’s vision for it.
Vicki wears many hats herself in the months that go into each performance. She is involved in costuming, pre-setting (planning set positioning), pack in (putting props up in the theatre), then the in-theatre rehearsals, before the run of shows.
“I warn my hubby heading into show season, that he won’t see me for three months,” she laughs. But working around a full-time job, it’s not an exaggeration.
It’s a family affair for her though. Vicki’s son James (then 12) joined her in her first production, playing Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. Her daughter Jenna – a professional dancer from the New Zealand School of Dance – made her Showbiz Christchurch debut at 19 and will be performing in Wicked when it starts next month. Tickets are available from www.ticketek.co.nz/showbiz.