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Rural gem: Route 72

Us urban dwellers often forget the little rural gems that lie beyond the boundaries of Christchurch. One such gem is Route 72 Café Bar Emporium in the charming country village of Cust, just a 40-minute drive from the city.




Nestled in the heart of the village, Route 72 is a destination dining experience that marries exquisite food and shopping with a stunning country environment – perfect for a day out to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

Upon arrival to the café, bar and emporium, you are greeted by local friendly staff and a buzzing atmosphere. Upstairs dining offers stunning vistas of the surrounding mountains, rivers and valleys – what better place to relax over a delicious breakfast or lunch?

Why not start with an outstanding organic fair-trade coffee as you peruse the tempting breakfast menu, available from 9 to 11.30am. Their flavoursome breakfast speciality the ‘Kiwiana’ – think homemade hollandaise, kumara rosti and free-range country eggs topped with either bacon or salmon – is their unique take on the classic eggs benedict. Other delectable breakfast dishes include French toast, fluffy pancakes and a traditional Farmers’ cooked breakfast.

Adjoining the restaurant is North Canterbury’s best kept secret – the emporium. Browse an impressive, eclectic range of treasures from giftware, art and homewares through to candles, skincare and clothing – here you’ll find Christmas gifts for the whole family! Recent special additions to the range include beautiful Italian linens.

Discover this North Canterbury gem at 1697 Cust Road. Table reservations are recommended – phone 03 312 5595.




Coolest little wine festival

The North Canterbury Wine & Food Festival returns to the Glenmark Domain in March, showcasing the very best the region has to offer.




Following the popular event held earlier in the year, organisers are now getting ready for another brilliant festival that is set to feature 30 local wineries and more than 20 stalls offering a bounty of local and seasonal fare.
There really will be something on offer for everyone at ‘the coolest little wine festival’ on Sunday 8 March and it’s only a 45-minute drive north of Christchurch.

As you wander the beautiful grounds, you’ll have the opportunity to talk directly to the food and wine producers, and sample a range of local delicacies as well as new, exciting flavours.

When it’s time for a break, grab your favourite beverage and stop off at one of the food trucks. Enjoy the sunshine as you listen to some awesome tunes from local musicians and DJs.

Another popular attraction will be the Makers’ Market, a place where artisans share their skills through classes and demonstrations, and also the Talk Tent, which allows producers time to discuss provenance and sustainability.

The family-friendly festival will also include a bouncy castle, face painting and entertainment for the kids.

The North Canterbury Wine & Food Festival will be held on Sunday 8 March 2020, from 10:30am to 5pm at the Glenmark Domain, Waipara, North Canterbury.

Keep an eye out on for a full list of stallholders and the musical line-up!




Fashion craze

If you’ve taken a trip out to Kaiapoi recently, you’ll know it’s transformed into a happening hub of activity. Delighted to be part of this refreshed township is the team at funky fashion boutique, Craze Fashion.



The moment you walk into Craze’s inviting new store, you are embraced by colour – and the beautiful aroma of candles! The fashion business has recently relocated to Kaiapoi’s attractive new courtyard of shops on the bank of the Kaiapoi River.

“Kaiapoi is becoming a destination,” says Sherie McKinlay, owner of Craze Fashion. And it is – an abundance of new businesses have opened their doors, with eateries, activities and more just a stone’s throw away.

Craze’s bigger, better premises sees stunning spring and summer styles from quality New Zealand and Australian labels all hanging in bright and beautiful colour co-ordination on their racks. There are beautiful designer pieces to suit all tastes and occasions, from capsule must-haves to statement dresses for Cup Day – with a curated collection of on-trend shoes and accessories to match!

Existing ranges have recently been extended with the move to a larger space – you can now browse more of your favourite designer pieces from the likes of Wish, Minx, Cooper Street and Federation.

There’s never been a better time to visit the region’s newest destination, and while you’re there, snap up a stylish ensemble for summer at Craze Fashion, who were ‘Highly Commended’ at this year’s Retail Awards!

Find the new store at 178 Williams Street, open seven days with late nights Thursday, or shop online at




Reasons to head to Hanmer

Hanmer Springs – that magical place which offers something for everyone! The sub-alpine town is gearing up for holiday time, with entertainment, gourmet dining and an interesting array of boutique shops and galleries to enjoy, not to mention that pivotal attraction – the gorgeous springs, which features six different types of pool systems, topping at 42 degrees. Ahhhhh, fabulous relaxation! And nearby is the spa, which offers the delights of massages, facials and hot stone treatments. Who can resist – and why would they? It’s only a 90-minute scenic drive from Christchurch.



For those who want entertainment, Acoustic Blues is featuring on 10 November, and on 15 November, the Women’s Adventure Film Tour showcases extraordinary and adventurous women.

If adventure is more up your alley, the beauty and birdlife of the gorgeous Heritage Forest is stunning, with its short and longer trails making it accessible to all.

Special events for the outdoor adventurers include an 8.4km run race from Molesworth to Hanmer on 16 November, and on 7 December, alpine marathons offer full, half or 10km runs. Mountain biking, multisport and fun runs and walks are available at the St James Conservation Area on Friday 17 January and Saturday 18 January.

A huge array of outdoor activities are available daily, including bungy jumping, horse riding, jet boating, fishing, quad bike riding and bush walking. Two ski fields are also nearby for the snow lovers.




Summer in North Canterbury

The weather is heating up – and so is the events itinerary for North Canterbury! Here’s a few fun events you can look forward to from now until the end of the year.




Kaiapoi Community Garden Open Day
Kaiapoi Community Garden, Hilton Street, Sunday 10 November, 10am-1pm
Enjoy a slice of nature while listening to live music at the Kaiapoi Community Garden Open Day! A children’s corner featuring a mud kitchen, sand pit and garden bed will keep the littlies entertained while you have a bite to eat, check out the food demonstrations and browse the seedlings and preserves for sale.

Women’s Adventure Film Tour
The Heritage Hanmer Springs, Saturday 16 November, 6:30pm-8:30pm
This fun evening of entertainment features a series of short films celebrating the extraordinary things women are doing in the name of nature.

Rangiora Christmas Celebration Night 2019
High Street, Rangiora, Friday 22 November, 5:30-9:30pm
With most retailers open til 9:30pm and a bunch of quality market stalls to browse, Christmas Celebration Night is your chance to get those Christmas gifts sorted! Have a family photo taken with Santa, be entertained by talented street performers and end the night with a fireworks display.

Ohoka Garden Tour & Fete
Ohoka School, Sunday 24 November, 10am-4pm
This biennial fundraising initiative is a wonderful day out featuring a self-guided tour of six stunning gardens, complemented by a beautiful country fete filled with local stallholders, food, raffles, entertainment – and the ever-popular Pimms tent.

Mandeville Craft Festival
Mandeville Sports Club, Sunday 1 December, 10am-3pm
Relax in the summer sun and revel in an exciting array of top-quality arts and crafts stalls. Enjoy yummy eats, live music and free off-street parking.

Amberley Christmas Festival
121 Carters Road Amberley, 5 December 2019, 4-8pm
Jot this one in your diary – Amberley is set to sparkle this Christmas with a festival featuring market stalls, carols, buskers, Christmas cookie workshops, and Kiwiana style Santa photos with a Kombi van!




Shaking prompts garden festival

An opportunity to see the world-renowned ‘Wall of Waiau’ and ‘Lake Rebekah’, the lake created when the 2016 Waiau-Kaikoura earthquake triggered a massive landslide that dammed the Leader River, is an attraction of this year’s Hurunui Garden Festival, being held from Friday 1 to Sunday 3 November 2019.



The Woodchester Walls and Waterfalls Tour (yes, there’s even a waterfall created as the lake spills over the dam) is expected to be popular with people keen to see the impact of the earthquake on the vast high country of Woodchester Station.

If you’re wondering about the connection between a Garden Festival and a tour of earthquake damage, the answer is the earthquake did more than shake up North Canterbury. It stirred local garden owners into creating New Zealand’s newest garden festival as a way to help with earthquake recovery in the Hurunui District.

“The Hurunui District was a playground for Christchurch residents who came up here for the hot pools, the wineries and exploring all the wonderful wide open spaces,” Festival Organising Committee Chair Marina Shearer says. “With State Highway 1 closed and a constant ripple of aftershocks, people stayed away in their droves. The impact was felt across the district as businesses struggled when visitor numbers fell.”



Shearer and five friends, all of whom had beautiful gardens, hatched a plan to open their gardens and offer warm rural hospitality to visitors wanting to enjoy a day in the tranquility of the country. The six gardens opened over four days in 2017, attracting visitors from far and wide. In 2018 the event was upscaled into a district-wide festival that attracted more than 4,000 visits to gardens. For 2019, the festival has expanded to include 23 gardens and two tours.

“Visitors told us they liked the eclectic mixture of town and country gardens, so we’re adding new gardens in Hanmer Springs, in the remote Kaiwara Valley and on farms around Culverden. We feel really privileged to share them with garden lovers from Canterbury and New Zealand.”

The 2016 Waiau-Kaikoura earthquake stirred Hurunui District garden owners into creating New Zealand’s newest Garden Festival. Although it’s only the second year the event has run, with six new gardens, two tours and exhibitions, talks and stalls in gardens, expectations for another successful festival are understandably high.

Visit the website to find out more.




Ohoka’s big day out

For almost three decades, Ohoka has been welcoming visitors from all over the country to its annual Garden Tour and Fête.




Featuring a self-guided tour of stunning local gardens and a gorgeous country fete at Ohoka School filled with local stallholders, food, raffles, entertainment and the ever-popular Pimms tent, the event provides a wonderful day out in the beautiful countryside.

From cottage charm to beautifully tended formal grandeur, the 2019 tour will include six of Ohoka’s finest gardens, including the Historic Homestead Gatekeepers Lodge at the Ohoka Domain and the immaculate gardens of fashion boutique Magpie Style.

Proudly run by the Ohoka School PTA as a biennial fundraising initiative, tour tickets are available for $25 on Eventbrite or from Ohoka School, with entry to the fete by gold coin donation. Suitable for all ages and perfect for Christmas shopping – think artwork and local crafts, jewellery, furniture and chocolates!

Save the date: Sunday 24 November from 10am-4pm. Email




For the culinary connoisseur: Woodley’s Restaurant and Wine Bar

Located just 40 minutes from Christchurch, Woodley’s Restaurant and Wine Bar is Darfield’s best kept culinary secret.



With three outdoor dining areas, a newly landscaped beer garden, under-cover and heated dining area and the front terrace that has a stunning picturesque view of the Southern Alps, Woodley’s is easily Darfield’s cosiest and most stylish restaurant and bar.

Talking of restaurants and bars, Woodley’s has a delightful range of beautifully prepared, reasonably priced meals and desserts to satisfy every culinary connoisseur. Lunch/brunch is served from Wednesdays to Sundays 11am until 3pm, and Dinner from Tuesdays to Sundays from 5pm till late. Woodley’s also sports Darfield’s biggest range of craft beers; a good IPA, pilsner or lager from Boundary Road is never far away.

Woodley’s can also cater for your function and can take large bookings on request. For more information on Darfield’s dining hotspot, check out




Step up for Cup Week: Shoe Therapy

Kaiapoi’s newest boutique shoe store has arrived just in time for pre-Cup Week fashion preparation.


Miss Wilson Naomi Heel – Dolly Pink Calf $299


To complete your look, or to gain brand-new inspiration, Shoe Therapy is the place to look for high-quality race day heels and accessories.

All items have been hand-picked by owner and professional fashion stylist, Debbie Reeves. In the range, she features top New Zealand and international brands, including Django & Juliette, Saben, Top End, Mollini, Miss Wilson, Rollie, Sol Sana, Superga, Diesel, Boh Runga Jewellery and much more.

Alongside race day fashion, there’s also something available for everyone, with high-quality shoes on offer with comfort in mind, and flats for everyday wear.


Miss Wilson Helena Heel – Black Suede $299


Debbie says it has been the perfect time to set up a designer shoe store in Kaiapoi, and customers have been commenting on its Melbourne-inspired vibe.

“Kaiapoi’s going through a time of regeneration and rapid growth,” she says. “The new development where we’re located on Williams Street has a modern, fresh feel. It’s really beautiful.”

The store celebrated its grand opening on September 26, so pop in today and find that perfect piece to complete your winning race day outfit.

Shoe Therapy is also proud to support mental health awareness; $1 from the sale of every shoe goes to a new charity each quarter, the first being Stepping Stone Trust.


Django & Juliette Ross – Black Leather $269

For more, visit, email, or phone 03 327 0966.




What’s happening in North Canterbury?

When it comes to the social calendar, North Canterbury is where the action is at, so put your glad rags on and head on out to this happening hotspot.




North Canterbury Expo
Saturday 12 October 10am-3pm
Rangiora New Life School, 2 Denchs Road, Southbrook, Rangiora

The North Canterbury Expo brings together more than 60 local businesses and community groups under one roof. It’s time to get amongst the local community, engage in demonstrations and games, develop new group networks and discover new businesses and group opportunities.

Rangiora Show 2019
Friday 25 October & Saturday 26 October, from 8am
Rangiora A&P Showgrounds, Ashley Street, Rangiora

It’s that time of year again, when we celebrate all things agricultural, with equestrian events, livestock, dog trials, dance competitions, shearing, wood chopping and so much more. It’s fun for the whole family.

Promise and Promiscuity: A New Musical by Jane Austen
Saturday 26 October 7:30pm–8:40pm
Rangiora Town Hall Small Theatre, High Street, Rangiora

Christchurch’s own Penny Ashton is back with her global Jane Austen smash hit. Follow the fortunes of Miss Elspeth Slowtree as she battles literary snobbery, her mother’s nerves and Cousin Horatio’s digestions, all armed with a superior wit, excellent ukulele skills and generally being quite bright… you know… for a girl.

The Christmas Country Fête
Thursday 31 October 10am-4pm
Lyddington Farm, 891 Mount Thomas Road, Fernside

Join thousands of people from around New Zealand in attending the country’s biggest and most popular fête. The day features more than 150 stalls, bursting with hundreds of gift ideas, along with fresh food and wine. Get your Christmas shopping underway, while enjoying the live entertainment and demonstrations.

The Waimakariri Light Party 2019
Thursday 31 October 4:30pm-7:30pm
Wylie Park, Smith Street, Kaiapoi

The fun at the Waimakariri Light Party, will kick-off with a multitude of entertainment including bungees, bouncy castles, (with the return of the Titanic bouncy castle) soft archery, horses and carriage rides, climbing walls, mini jeeps, Immunity quest game and Pedalmania crazy bikes.

Ohoka Garden Tour & Fête
Sunday 24 November 10am-4pm
Ohoka School, 261 Jacksons Road, Ohoka

It’s the time of the year we all look forward to! For almost three decades, Ohoka has been playing prestigious host to visitors from throughout New Zealand for the annual Garden Tour & Fête. The self-guided tour includes six of the area’s most exquisite gardens (tickets are available on Eventbrite), while the fête is at the local school with entry by gold coin donation. It’s the ultimate day in the countryside.