metropol » North Canterbury

Tag: North Canterbury

A blissful day out

Described as New Zealand’s biggest and most popular country fete, The Christmas Country Fete 2019 promises to be the best yet as it celebrates the securing of a permanent home at the beautiful Lyddington Garden, only 40 minutes from Christchurch.


Photographer Kate McConway


Mike Sheppard, Owner of The Christmas Country Fete, says having Lyddington Garden as a constant hosting venue means that not only do people get to leisurely browse for Christmas gifts in a relaxed and spacious location, but they also get to view one of North Canterbury’s most picturesque and spectacular gardens for some tranquil time out.

With easy access, free parking, the central wine and food area, wonderful shade and shelter spots to sit and soak up the live music and entertainment, this isn’t just a perfect day out – this is bliss!

The Christmas Country Fete 2019 features over 160 stalls (comprising a mix of familiar, previous stallholders and new stallholders) showcasing their unique, artisan, pure New Zealand made wares that will be cherished gifts for years to come by those who receive them.


Last year’s fete brought a bit of inclement weather but Mike remains perkily upbeat. “We’re praying for sunshine this year – it’s going to be great!”

To plan your brilliant and blissful day out, download the online electronic programme before leaving home, and like their Facebook page. Ticket sales now online.

The Christmas Country Fete is at Lyddington Garden, 891 Mt Thomas Road in Fernside on Thursday 31 October, from 10am to 4pm. Visit or find them on Facebook at



Hottest Happenings

Winter got you bored? We’ve curated an itinerary of all the latest and greatest events happening over the coming weeks in colourful North Canterbury. Jot these in your diary!




    Interested in adopting the Keto diet but not sure where to start? We’ve got the event for you! Keto Source NZ and Fools of Desire (a.k.a F.O.D) are coming together to bring you an informative keto evening on 18 July from 7pm – 9pm at F.O.D’s digs at 176 High Street, Rangiora. Hosted by experts Liz Ford (Keto/LCHF specialist and NZ dietitian) and Caleb Ford (Founder of Keto Source NZ), the event will answer all your burning questions about this trendy topic and will give you all the tips, tricks and vital info to get you started.

    Why not head out to the colourful town of Rangiora and join the friendly folk of North Canterbury as they party the day away at the Waimakariri Winter Festival on 21 July? Have a wander down Blake Street and enjoy the assortment of entertainment on offer – highlights include an ice sculpture competition, an animal farm and an open-air movie, not to mention buskers, clowns, fairies, a photo booth and more.

    With the aim to educate the community on a wide range of topics about bees and beekeeping, All About Bees North Canterbury is hosting its second annual South Island Bee Conference on 10 and 11 August at Rangiora High School. Jam-packed with forums, knowledgeable speakers from New Zealand, Germany and the USA and bee equipment and products, this event is for anyone and everyone who is interested in bees and our environment.

    The perfect pick-me-up for winter! Ashburton’s beautiful Lake Hood catchment will set the scene for the South Island Half Marathon, held on 4 August. Experience some of the South Island’s most picturesque water views, amazing home and garden settings and tranquil reserves as you traverse the 21km course, or opt for the 1/6th Marathon (7km) for something a bit easier. A Kidz Dash (1.5km) for 7-13 year olds will keep the young ones out of trouble too. Everyone from beginners to elite runners are invited to give it a go, and walkers are welcome too!

    Captivating audiences with renowned neuroscience education more than 200 times per year to sell-out events in New Zealand, Australia and internationally, Nathan Wallis will provide an informative narrative on how our day-to-day interactions with children and young people play a critical role in defining later outcomes for our children and for our future.



Hanmer’s Hotspot

There are some exciting new developments in the works near Canterbury’s northern border, so we caught up with Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa Executive General Manager Graeme Abbot about why this alpine oasis is the hottest place to head this year.




Can you tell us about the exciting new developments happening at the hot pools?
Sure! It’s all go in New Zealand’s alpine spa village. We’ve begun construction on a new $4.5 million development that will add five new thermal pools and an aquatic thrill ride to the complex. These will be open in time for summer.
First open will be the new pools. These are set among river boulder terraces and native gardens. Bathers will soak in our famous mineral-filled waters with the sounds of waterfalls and nature around them. We’re also really excited about our new 13.5m high aquatic thrill slide. It will open in November and will be the only ride like it in New Zealand.

What sustainability measures have been incorporated into the new development?
The new pools are designed to be super water efficient, with no holding tanks. We’ve also had to pioneer a new construction technique that saw them built on piles (instead of being dug into the ground) to protect tree roots below – this was a big process with 280 piles and added cost to the project, but was worth it.
Readers may also remember that last year we became the first in New Zealand to have a micro-turbine generator that uses waste methane (that comes out of the ground with our thermal water) to generate electricity. It was an exciting project that powers around 10 percent of the complex’s electricity. Now we’re capturing the heat the generator produces and using that to reheat our thermal water – it’s a pretty cool innovation that will provide half of the energy for the new developments.

You’ve got a slide naming competition running until 31 July, what sort of inspiration are you looking for?
Something awesome! The slide will be the only one of its kind in New Zealand and, given the impressive nature of it, this new addition needs an equally impressive name. We want something bold, fun and energising – because we promise you, this one is going to get the blood pumping through your veins! We have had more than one person suggest ‘Dave’ as a name but we’re sorry, that won’t do!

Why is this time of year a great time for people to head over your way?
Winter brings with it the possibility of snow, making it our favourite time of the year at the pools. If you’ve ever been to the pools during a snowfall, you’ll know why! It really is magical soaking in the hot waters, watching snow gently fall around you and melting as it hits the thermal waters. It brings with it a real sense of tranquillity and stillness, which is great for the mind and soul.

What are your recommendations for things to do and see over your way for people from Christchurch heading over for the day or the weekend?
The next time you come our way, take your time! Stay overnight instead of just making a daytrip. That will give you time to take a walk up Conical Hill, or along the Waterfall Track, before peddling through the village on the Rockets. Or jump on a horse or mountain bike to see another side to Hanmer Springs. Try out your mini golf skills and dine in at any one of the local spots.
We have a new Forest Walk featuring huge sculptures in the forest (look out for the BFG) which the kids will love or you can jump in the car and head ‘over the back’ and discover some spots locals love (just ask a villager which way to go!).

What other exciting things do you have in store over the next 12 months?
We have something really cool planned for younger kids – stay tuned!



A World Away: Tuscany Downs Estate

Tuscany Downs Estate is a true New Zealand luxury rural lifestyle experience on five acres of farmland near Darfield, Canterbury that caters to holiday getaways, weddings and corporate retreats.



Just 30 minutes from the central city and 25 minutes from Christchurch International Airport, Tuscany Downs Estate is in the heart of Canterbury-rural living with local wineries, ski fields and golf a short drive away. It’s the perfect location to experience the best of all seasons with large garden areas for relaxing outdoor summer living, or winter drinks beside the large outside open fire after a day at one of the six local ski fields.

Over the last ten years, Tuscany Downs Estate has grown with its local environment and become a gateway to neighbouring attractions that complement the local experience, including a thriving local wine making scene. Tuscany Downs’ proprietors Matt and Tracey Jones say the most overwhelming feedback they hear time and time again from locals and international guests is ‘Location’.

Being within reach of Christchurch city, but immersed in a rural setting surrounded by farmland and views of the mountains means it creates the perfect base for a lifestyle holiday. “All the time we see people who are off for the day skiing, or off for the day on a wine trail, or even a day trip in to the city knowing they’ll return home to a quiet environment to relax in, and everyone loves drinks by the outdoor fire,” Tracey says. “We really want our local and international guests to leave with a lifelong memory being able to say they know what New Zealand rural luxury feels like.”

Tuscany Downs Estate now has an international reputation after hosting guests from over fifty countries, including Europe, North America, and Asia, and that includes people coming to get married. The requests for wedding venue hire has doubled in the last 5 years, largely due to the immediate social media posting of wedding photos. Matt Jones says, “When people see the setting in the photos it sells itself”.

Originally designed and built as a luxury B&B, different markets have presented themselves since the earthquakes, including hosting for corporates when retreats, seminars and conferences became a regular theme as a result.

Tuscany Downs has introduced a new branding campaign aimed at the corporate market titled ‘Bring the Boardroom to the Country’. This is a full-service offering including catering, seminar space for talks and presentations, plus the large garden space for team building or creative thinking.

The portfolio of corporates who have used Tuscany Downs Estate as a boardroom on location includes local Canterbury companies and some of New Zealand’s largest brand names who have brought clients for product launches.



Eat, Shop, Enjoy

There are plenty of reasons north of the Waimakariri River to tempt you out of the city because, although North Canterbury might be known for its picturesque landscape, it also has plenty of bustling hotspots and a jam-packed social calendar.



Kaiapoi’s Red Eight Café has been drawing people from far and wide with its delicious range of sweet delights, home baked pastry items and store-roasted coffee. We profile this heavenly hotspot in this issue.

A bit further north in Rangiora, Fools of Desire (F.O.D) offers something that little bit different – but in the best of ways. With a focus on sourcing local and seasonal produce and using free range, fair trade, organic and ethical products – there’s even a fully functioning beehive in store! – you’d be a fool for not heading here, pronto! The exceptional eatery introduced insects to its menu last year and pushed the culinary envelope again with the launch of a new keto menu earlier this year.

For those who are interested in exploring the popular ketogenic – high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate – diet, the team is hosting informative keto evenings with Caleb Ford from Keto Source New Zealand on 18 July and 22 August. To register, visit

Not only does F.O.D host a bi-monthly networking event, ‘Thrive – Inspiring Women’ (next held Thursday 11 July, visit, it’s also a huge supporter of the Waimakariri Winter Festival which draws 8,000-10,000 people to central Rangiora every year. Held on Sunday 21 July, there will be an exciting line-up of mostly free attractions, a High Street market, music, food and fun! Find out more at



A special northern stop: Red Post Cafe

Winter is well and truly here and a trip to Maruia Springs Thermal Resort or Hanmer Springs to thaw out in the hot pools wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t stop at the Red Post Café to sit by the open fire for a barista-made coffee or sample some hot winter fare like a cottage pie, a bowl of fresh seafood chowder or some fish pie.



With friendly, efficient service you can relax in the warm ambience that is Red Post Café. Settling in to eat you may see the odd car club event that makes Red Post a regular stop because they’ve come to appreciate the venue for what it is: great food in a great environment.

They are ready and waiting to host groups, but make sure you let them know you’re on your way, especially if you’re after the blue cod or Southland cheese rolls, because these beauties sell fast. With a cabinet full of fresh treats for the weary traveller, there will be something for everyone, including gluten free and vegetarian options.

If you’re visiting North Canterbury for the first time, Trent, Carolyn and their staff will be able to help you with local knowledge and make your experience just that little bit more special. North Canterbury has so much to offer and Red Post Café should be the first stop on your journey to this winter wonderland.


To Market To Market

North Canterbury has plenty of markets and fetes to keep the weekends – and pantries – full. Check out our itinerary.



Rangiora Church Street Market
Saturday 1 June 8am-1pm
St John’s Anglican Church, 355 High Street, Rangiora
The market is open on the first Saturday of each month. Café, indoor craft, garage, white elephant sales, outdoor car boot sales and sausage sizzle.

Midwinter Christmas Market
Saturday 8 June 10am-3pm
Rangiora New Life School, 2 Denchs Road, Southbrook, Rangiora
You’ll find more than 30 market stalls in this indoor Midwinter Christmas Market, including a PTA cake stall, hot food and featuring a silent auction – fun for all!

The Christmas Country Fete
Thursday 31 October 10am-4pm
Lyddington Farm, 891 Mount Thomas Road, Rangiora
Join thousands of people from around New Zealand in attending the country’s biggest and most popular fete. The day features over 200 stalls, bursting with hundreds of gift ideas, along with fresh food and wine, live entertainment and demonstrations.

Hanmer Springs Fete
Friday 1 November 10am-4pm
Queen Mary Hospital Grounds, 1 Jacks Pass Road, Hanmer Springs
Hanmer Springs Fete is set to become North Canterbury’s finest shopping event, with more than 100 high quality stalls for a day of indulgence with live music.


Exceptional events: North Canterbury

North of the Waimak is a happening hotspot with a range of exciting events set to hit the streets in the coming weeks. We’ve picked out our faves.



  1. Derelict Brewing Tap Takeover
    Head along to craft beer and cider fillery The Good Drop on 27 April for a pint courtesy of micro brewing company Derelict Brewing and a gourmet burger served up by Alt Kitchen. From 12pm to 10pm, the pop-up bar at 7 Durham Street, Rangiora will see local folks enjoy a taste of burgers and beers made right here in little North Canterbury.

  2. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Musical
    Take a trip to the French Riviera with North Canterbury Musicals’ Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. A hysterical storyline, a jazzy score and two mischievous con-artists combine for several uproarious evenings (2-18 May). A musical guaranteed to add some spice to your life!

  3. Cake Tasting Arvo
    A beautiful, tasty range of cakes all in one place – what could be better? If you’re looking for a delicious cake for a wedding, birthday, baby shower or even Mother’s Day, then head down to Gather + You – your one-stop shop for event information, inspiration and giftware at 91 Ivory Street, Rangiora on 5 May for an afternoon of cake tasting. Tickets include a free tasting with each vendor and a goodie bag. Head to for more information.

  4. ABBA Heaven! All the Hits with The Mermaids Dance Band
    Following a sell out last time The Mermaids Dance Band hit the Kaiapoi Club, the crew will treat audiences to an updated repertoire of ABBA’s top hits while donning dazzling new costumes. Dress to the nines, slip on your dancing shoes and join the band on 17 May as they belt out top tunes like Waterloo, Super Trooper and Dancing Queen.


Culinary dream come true: Lemongrass

Chef Sriamorn Reavill has always wanted to share with people the home cooked food she had growing up in her native Thailand.



Her restaurant, Lemongrass, is the culmination of that dream. Most days and nights she can be found there cooking up traditional Thai dishes, some innovative shared plates and meals, and delicious desserts. It’s a family business. She and husband Paul bought the Loburn property and house, adding the restaurant you will now find tucked into beautiful rural surroundings, including hazelnut and fruit trees. There is al fresco dining where, if you catch it just right, the silence is refreshing, perfect for those balmy Canterbury evenings, or even the cool ones.

As a family business, Sriamorn’s children pitch in too. Aaron and Chelsy can usually be found waiting tables, attending mum in the kitchen, or taking care of front of house duties. Even busy architect Paul can sometimes be found clearing tables or serving drinks. Lemongrass is perfect for any occasion; private functions, casual lunches, romantic dinners, or a special treat for friends and family. It is BYO beer and wine, and there is a selection of non-alcoholic beverages. The menu is replete with all the Thai dishes and flavours you would expect, plus a few surprises. Thai beef salad (pictured), wok fried pork with garlic and chilli, or pan fried salmon.

Demand is high at Lemongrass and bookings are essential. The restaurant is only open when you’ve made a reservation. The full menu is at and you can call Sriamorn on 03 310 3102.


Plan your Perfect Party: Jubilee Events

After three years of managing fundraising events, fellow mums Julia Dockerill and Cassandra Kelly decided to set up their own events management company. After a chance encounter led to them to discover the Rangiora Function Centre, Jubilee Events was formed.



Now they are busy hosting events including birthday celebrations, corporate functions and weddings. The venue offers one of the largest and most versatile spaces in North Canterbury. It can be divided to create two separate spaces for smaller gatherings or used to full capacity to cater for larger events for up to 250 people. Catering, with an emphasis on old-fashioned favourites, is baked fresh on-site and the team are happy to discuss any catering requests. So whether you need help planning an affordable DIY wedding party or a more lavish high profile event, their mantra is ‘Your Day, Your Way’.

Email, phone Julia on 027 229 3159, or find them on Facebook.