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A lush garden retreat

Ashburton’s Lushington Garden Gifts and Café is a trove of pleasure. Delighting the senses, it’s the ideal break on a journey, the perfect destination itself for a few hours’ treat with friends, or a soul-restoring solo escape.



The garden centre is award-winning and you can see why, with its beautiful displays, and a range of plants that is guaranteed to inspire. There are lots of living gifts and a gorgeous selection of indoor plants.


The range of plants is huge, and you’ll be assisted in your selections by the knowledgeable and experienced team. Local and sustainable are watchwords, and the team pride themselves on the quality of the plants, many of which are grown in their nursery at Allenton, which also helps to keep the prices competitive.

Inside you’ll find the café, the gift and homewares shop. Worked around a ‘country comes to town theme’ you’ll find beautiful French and English inspired giftware, while in the café you’ll find delicious wholesome and homemade cakes and slices, plus full breakfast, lunch and sides menus, which cater for gluten free and vegetarian diners.


Co-owners and sisters Miranda Sinton and Sophie Duff are locals who grew up on a farm in Mayfield. They’ve brought their love of the wholesome and artisan to Lushingtons, where the plants, great food and gorgeous gifts have been nurtured for ten years. “It’s just a great place to revel in beautiful plants, meet with friends for lunch in a licensed cafe then browse the gifts and home-wares,” says Miranda.





Foodie Heaven: Craft Room Cafe

Found in the new Maltworks complex in the Heathcote Valley, Craft Room Café is locally owned and operated by Hannah, a hands-on food lover who makes sure no customer leaves hungry.



Craft Room Café is run by a small team who take the time to get to know their regular customers and strive to make every customer feel welcome.

Off the brunch menu, the Vege Stack is a must-try warm salad loaded with colour and flavour (can also be made vegan on request). Of course, if you can’t resist an Eggs Benny, they’ll fill your plate high. Meanwhile, the cabinet features homemade sweet and savoury favourites – ginger and pistachio slice (you’d never know it is gluten-free) and the oversized Pork Sausage Roll.

They take food seriously and strive to provide their customers with delicious and wholesome food to suit any dietary requirement (some upon request).

While they know the perfect brew is essential, they also don’t mind bending the rules, so you get the perfect cup of coffee to fit your taste. Running the machine with a few familiar faces makes getting to know your barista that much easier. With a few decades of coffee knowledge between them all, the crew at Craft Room Café know their stuff.

Craft Room Café is open from 7:30am weekdays, 8am weekends, until 4pm daily. Support your local laid-back café, enjoy the sunshine out on the terrace and let Craft Room Café prove that delicious food and coffee doesn’t have to be too serious.




Iconic cafe the place to be: Brigitte’s

Nestled in the heart of Merivale for over 45 years, Brigitte’s is an iconic and well-loved café.





With loyal customers visiting from all over the city and distant shores, many of their regulars include generations from the same families. “We have people who came in as children with their parents and grandparents, now bringing in their own children – it’s really cool to see, but slightly ageing!” says owner Ange.

The front-of-house team is well-known for creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere, going out of their way to ensure customers feel special and valued. Brigitte’s is renowned for its amazing brunches and delicious lunches, with all the traditional favourites made by their talented kitchen team, adding the special Brigitte’s touch. Some popular favourites include the Warm Lamb Salad, Salt and Pepper Squid, Eggs Benedict, burgers and pancakes, as well as a selection of house-made slices and cakes. “We sometimes try to sneak in a few changes to the menu, but our regulars just won’t let us!”

There’s definitely an option for everyone at Brigitte’s. Whether you’re having a business meeting, celebrating a special event or heading to the races, the courtyard is an idyllic place to enjoy a glass of wine in the sun. The adjacent garden room is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the main restaurant. “It’s a bit quieter, for those wanting a more peaceful setting to dine or chat.”

Brigitte’s is now open at 7:30am on weekdays.




Culverden’s culinary oasis: Red Post Cafe

With the days getting longer and the nights shorter, now is as good a time as any to enjoy some spring dining and quality eats with your nearest and dearest at Culverden’s Red Post Café.


Situated on Highfield Street and facing onto SH7, Red Post Café, in its beautiful restored villa, has been the cornerstone of Culverden’s culinary community for many a moon. Red Post Café is a fully licensed family eatery, able to offer you a stunning selection of delectable delights including muffins and scones, cakes and slices.

You and yours can also relax in Red Post Café’s garden dining area. Here you can soak up the sun while feasting on either a light lunch or an evening meal. Vegetarian, gluten-free options and a children’s menu are also available.

Plus, the addition of West Coast Whitebait to Red Post Café’s new menu really gets the taste-buds excited. Red Post Café also has a wide range of hot and cold beverages on hand to quench your thirst.

Open from 8am–4:30pm Monday to Thursday, Friday until 8pm and weekends until 5:30pm, what are you waiting for? Red Post Café is waiting.




Takahe Takes Off

One of Christchurch’s historic masterpieces has reopened its doors as a friendly and welcoming café, bar and community hub, with Cashmere couple Andrew and Kay Male at the helm.



The building, inside and out, is really something special. The Sign of the Takahe was founded by naturalist Harry Ell and was one of four rest houses built to provide refreshments for travellers on their route from Akaroa to Christchurch via the Summit Road. The building became Christchurch’s finest ‘silver service’ dining experience in the late 1900s and was eventually closed for repair and strengthening after the recent earthquakes. Eight years on, it has opened to the public once again, thanks to the enthusiastic local couple.

They immigrated to New Zealand in 2005 from Windsor, home to the famous Windsor Castle, with their first four-month old baby boy. Fourteen years on and now with two teenage sons, they have taken pride in giving this Christchurch ‘castle’ a new lease of life. “We’re very passionate about the building,” Kay says.

The couple are also passionate about honouring Harry Ell and his philosophy of nurturing the Port Hills environment and community. Community is at the heart of the business – there’s a significant focus on supporting local businesses, groups, schools and causes. Sections of the building are able to be hired and used as a space for community groups to hold events like meetings, fundraisers and classes.



The locally sourced café and bar offerings are all part of the story. A brand-new menu features favourites like pasta, fish and chips, pizza and steak. “It’s not going to be the fine dining that it was before – it’s more fresh, local produce; family friendly, affordable and casual,” Andrew says.

Fine local wines, spirits and craft beers are available at the bar – take note of their locally brewed house beer, Takahe. For every pint sold, 50 cents will go to a separate fund set up to invest in the conservation of the Port HIlls, again honouring Harry Ell’s legacy.

Their tea and coffee also have great causes at their roots; Charity Tea, a loose-leaf organic, fairtrade and biodegradable tea range donates its profits to feeding programmes in New Zealand and Haiti; for each 1kg of tea purchased, five children are fed. Their one-of-a-kind coffee, Ha Kawhe, also puts their profits back into the community, with money going to Matapopore Charitable Trust.



Sustainability is also an integral focus of the business, and they have plans to become B Corp Certified by following a sustainable social and environmental ethos. The couple are already passionate about recycling and reusing; so much so they have introduced a KeepCup swap system. “Just things like that, we want to be able to leave as little impact on the planet as possible,” Kay says.

Revamped, refurbished and taking off into a bright new future, Sign of the Takahe is open for bookings, just in time for your Cup Day celebration. Phone 03 925 8766, visit Sign of the Takahe on Facebook or the website,




Business giving back: Flora Cafe

Owning a café was never the plan for Wil and Kim Sze. Wil was finishing his master’s degree, and Kim was pregnant with their first child and going to be a stay-at-home mum. But in August 2016, at 41 weeks pregnant, they had the worst news possible – ‘there’s no heartbeat’. Their son Oliver was born at 7.5lbs, 56cm long and no cry, just a deafening silence that would change the Szes’ lives forever.



They had an outpouring of support and one in particular was from an organisation called Heartfelt. Heartfelt came to the hospital and took photos with Oliver, as they are able to do for any family who loses a baby or has a serious illness, providing the Szes the gift of photographic memories at no cost.

From their loss came a desire to give back. They decided to start a business that would enable them to pass on the kindness they had received and on 1 July, 2019, Flora Café opened.

Located in the ground floor of the Manawa building, across from Christchurch Hospital, there’s flamingo wallpaper, plants, Unknown Chapter coffee, homemade food and smiling faces that will welcome you with a warmth that feels like home. They are worth the visit, especially for the oaty caramel slice!

In October, Flora Café is donating a portion of their profits to Heartfelt. There will also be a memory wall, so anyone who has lost a child can write their name on a heart to put on the wall. For every heart, an additional $1 will go to Heartfelt.




Spring brunch delights: Red Eight Cafe

Popular Kaiapoi eatery Red Eight Café has now introduced its delicious brunch menu every day.



Pastry chef Stephanie Reeves, owner of Red Eight, has spruced up the brunch menu for spring, and extended the hours it’s available. From 8am ‘til 2pm daily, except Sunday when it’s closed, the new brunch offerings are up for grabs.

The avocado on rye or rosti is always popular, Stephanie says. So, too, are the pancakes served with fresh fruit, butterscotch sauce, ice cream and gingernut crumble. Headlining the new menu, however, is the eggs benedict. It’s served on a crispy agria potato rosti with mushrooms and spinach, or bacon, or smoked salmon, and the hollandaise sauce is house-made.


In fact, everything at Red Eight is house-made. Stephanie and the team prepare everything right there, every day, including the sauces, aiolis and vinaigrettes. Even the milkshakes (very popular!) are made with sauces from real ingredients. Real bananas, real strawberries. No generic syrups.

That’s how it is at Red Eight. “It’s simple food, done well,” Stephanie says. “Tastes delicious and looks good on the plate.”


In addition to the new brunch menu, there’s a cabinet full of scrumptious delights, all, of course, freshly made in house each day. “To me, that’s the sign of a good café – if there’s so much choice that you can’t decide what you want.”
Open 7am ‘til 4pm Monday to Friday and 8am ‘til 4pm on Saturday, Red Eight also offers catering and venue hire.

To contact, phone 03 327 0136. Visit 143 Williams Street, Kaiapoi, or check out the Facebook page.




Exceptional culinary choice: Crisp Cafe

What can one say about Crisp Café that hasn’t been said already? Locals come from around Christchurch and even as far as Ashburton, just to sample the great eats and beverages from Nick and Sue Leadbeater and their family- run café. Located at Shop 2 in the heart of the Fendalton Village Shopping Centre, Crisp Café is a warm and friendly family-run business, which you experience the moment you set foot in the door.



The most unique aspect of Crisp Café is the food on offer, particularly the addition of ketogenic or keto foods to the menu – keto is based on the concept of high-fat and low-carb. Gluten-free food also makes up more than half of Crisp Café’s menu, making it the definitive gluten-free go-to in Canterbury.

With a stunning selection of sweets, savouries, pies, slices and even some scrumptious cheesecakes, you are well catered for. Basically, if the centrepiece of your diet is of a gluten-free variety, you simply won’t find this level of culinary choice anywhere else.

A hot cup of barista-made coffee is never far away and the fully equipped kitchen is expertly run by Nick and his team. With a new menu proving very popular, and great weekly specials on hand, isn’t it time you visited Crisp Café?




Firm favourite for foodies: Original Foods Baking Co.

You’ve likely heard of this locally owned and operated Canterbury family business, which has been a firm favourite since its beginnings in 1991… but if you’re unsure, we’re willing to bet you’ll have given them a go without knowing it.



Been on an Air New Zealand flight recently? The delicious muffins on offer are just one of the treats this talented team creates. Cheeky monkey looking up at you from that perfectly gooey slice you just added to your shopping trolley? That’s Original Foods Baking Co. right there too. The famous sticky, soft chocolate cake your kids ask for every year for their birthdays and what about the Jam Rap Donut from the local fish ‘n’ chip shop? You guessed it… Original Foods Baking Co.

Now you can experience Original Foods Baking Co. in a different way again, this time with its own café in Wigram. The café proudly supplies a loyal base of regular customers with C4 coffee, its famous donuts, an ever-changing selection of café fare (made fresh in-house daily), as well as the Original Foods Baking Co. products you know and love, straight from the factory door.

This cosy spot has quickly become a local favourite with residents and nearby workers. Whether they’re enjoying a caffeine fix and donut to-go, or relaxing for lunch in the outdoor seating area, it’s an ideal spot to grab a delicious cup of coffee and a really good bite to eat.

The café is open Monday to Friday from 7:30am – 5pm. For more information, visit and find them on Instagram and Facebook for mouth-watering food pics!

8 Stark Drive, Wigram.



Crisp Café

The Perfect Place: Crisp Café

Crisp Café ticks all the boxes when it comes to food, service, vibe and that all important parking question.


Crisp Café


With an enormous shopping carpark to pull into, no steps to have to negotiate prams or wheelchairs and seating for 70, this is the perfect venue to catch up with friends, hold business meetings or reserve a table for that special occasion.

“Over half of our products are gluten free, as is our cabinet food,” owners Sue and Nick Leadbeater say. “Most of our menu can be adapted to gluten free as we’re fortunate to have a gluten free chef!”
Everything is made onsite. “Homemade food prepared with love can’t be beaten,” Nick says.

They serve Underground Coffee, with milk options covering everything from dairy through to almond, soy and coconut. New menu items feature burgers, nachos, seasonal soups and the popular fishermen’s basket. Children also have a new menu to get excited about, while the bagel and toastie menu has been revamped.

Renowned for their tasty, tummy-filling all-day breakfasts that warm the cockles and fire up all the cylinders, it’s no wonder patrons flock here – in droves. Make sure to check out the wall art from Canterbury University’s fine art students; the artworks change regularly and are all for sale; and if you’re in need of a last-minute gift, browse the display stands of small but beautiful items for inspiration.


Find Crisp Café and Gifts at 376 Ilam Road, open 7am to 4pm Monday to Friday and 7:30pm to 4pm weekends, phone 03 351 4414.