This area of central Christchurch teems with resorted historic architecture, distinctive eateries and eclectic emporiums.
Victoria is on a roll. Fanning out from the heart of Christchurch, the northern gateway of Victoria Street has been setting the pace as a guiding light in the revival of the post-quake urban landscape.
In fact, Queen Victoria is a prevailing theme du jour, now synonymous with stoic restoration and daring re-creation. As the ruling monarch who presided over the city’s foundation, her symbolic legacy is steeped in the city’s streetscape.
From her lofty stone perch, she continues to survey her realm across the velvety grassed expanse of Victoria Square, a much-loved public space nicknamed the city’s ‘front lawn’. It’s bordered by the city’s ‘living room’, Christchurch Town Hall, the subject of a guts-and-glory restoration project.
South of Victoria Square, another grand old lady has just been resurrected, the Isaac Theatre Royal. The triumphant restoration of New Zealand’s last surviving Edwardian-style theatre now throbs with live productions, stirring the soul in Christchurch’s premium entertainment venue.
At the far end of Victoria Street, another beacon of inspired restoration shimmers in the sunlight: Knox Church, freshly rendered in a copper and concrete façade, while preserving its wondrous wood-panelled heritage. Plus, the glorious Victoria Clock Tower, first erected to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, is back to her radiant best, after a million-dollar face-lift.
In between these time-honoured landmarks, distinctive, edgy and expressive architectural statements are redefining the skyline, adding contemporary sparkle to the elegance of the Victoria precinct. It’s the boom in distinctive boutiques and playful eateries that underpins the area’s new-found verve.
With a huge variety of entertainment and dining establishments, from Irish bars to Latin-fusion fare and South-East Asian cuisine with a local twist, you’ll love exploring the Victoria Precinct, where the future has re-framed the familiar.
Venturing out of the city’s heart you will discover more culinary delights around every corner. Travelling around the Canterbury region you’ll often see small roadside signs for the products of artisan producers – so keep an eye out and stop in and get yourself some unique local delicacies.
Whether it’s honey, organic fruit and vegetables, handmade chocolates or preserves, flavour triumphs in fresh food that’s been produced with love and care.
Or explore one of the regions many local farmers’ markets for fresh produce, fine foods and homemade treats. Be sure to stop in at Akaroa, the stunning historic French settlement nestled in the heart of Banks Peninsula, a unique micro-climate for growing sublime produce.
Ranked as number two on The New York Times’ 52 Places to Go list in 2014, Christchurch is full of unique experiences in the revitalised city bustle and the region beyond.
From the Pacific Ocean, ancient volcanic peninsula and wondrous marine life, across patchwork plains – home to lush vineyards and braided rivers, then rising to glacial lakes and the majestic Southern Alps, you’ll find something special in Christchurch and the Canterbury region.
The Garden City is your launch pad for a legendary South Island road trip. Within 10 minutes from Christchurch city centre, the Port Hills begin with a network of walking and biking tracks and views that stretch from the Pacific Ocean to Southern Alps. Whether it’s cinematic alpine scenery, luminous lakes or epic coastlines, the road is calling.
Words by Mike Yardley