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Christchurch, New Zealand

The Journey Begins

Our journey began in Christchurch, a town infamous for the 2011 earthquake that devastated the region. Nothing could have quite prepared us for the magnitude and intensity the quakes left in their path. Not only are the affected buildings in need of restoration, but also the huge numbers of buildings that don't meet earthquake code are being knocked down and rebuilt. Amid the chaos, there is still something that remains strong and proud, and that's a sense of community. The locals have teamed together, creating vibrant hubs all over town, flooded with creativity and love.

Christchurch New Zealand

C1 Espresso

On the search for the perfect caffeine hit, we stumbled across C1 espresso. At face value, it's easy to underestimate the intricacies you'll find inside. Owner, Sam Crofskey lost his previous business to the tragic earthquakes, C1 was his way of making a come back. His ideas were big and bold, all starting with the spiralled tubes manifesting from the ceiling. Other than the visual attraction, these tubes actually posses functionality - to transport your freshly made burger and drop it right on your table. Hard to believe, but I saw it with my own eyes. This complex procedure took years to perfect, but has certainly created a stir among locals. The back wall is lined with teeny tiny tea boxes divided in two, one half for now, one half to take for later. The tea was sourced sustainably in India, and is covering just about every flavour. The rooftop is where you'll find the beehive and micro herb garden. The food culture of New Zealand rests heavily on its easy access to fresh, local ingredients; this concept was prioritised throughout the menu.

Christchurch New Zealand

Re-Start

A walk around town unveils several fascinating districts. One that struck a chord was a shopping mall called Re Start, where unconventionally, every store is housed in a rectangle-shipping container. This outdoor shopping mall was created by the owner of the City Property and Business Group, in a desperate measure to restore some soul in the place that needed it most. He believed that waiting for the infrastructure to be rebuilt would be a timely process that had to be fast tracked. The response has been phenomenal, as is the experience. There is an array of food stalls and boutique clothing stores, showcasing everything high-end fashion to up-and-coming designers.

Christchurch New Zealand

Shop Eight x Rekindle

By lunch we found ourselves amid another interesting pocket of Christchurch, which stretched itself all the way along the quaint street of New Regent. Shop Eight is a little place that has a whole lot of soul, using furniture from a local supplier called Rekindle. All the furniture has been created using materials salvaged post-earthquake that otherwise would have been thrown away. The area downstairs is suited for a quick biodynamic wine, picked from some of the region's finest wineries. Upstairs is where you can be properly seated to experience the menu. Head Chef Michael Smith focuses on four locally sourced, alternating main dishes and a selection of sides. After a decadent Ox-Tail Terrine, we moved onto a selection of speciality cheese from a local source.

Christchurch New Zealand
Christchurch New Zealand

Roots

By nightfall we made our way to the small port town of Lyttelton, a short drive out of Christchurch. Our eagerness to arrive at Roots was amplified, as they had just won the New Zealand restaurant of the year award. Roots is broken down into two separate dining areas and a garden courtyard. They offer a degustation menu, influenced by the ever-changing ingredients made available to them. Ingredients have been foraged, carefully picked from their own garden or found at the local farmers markets. Owners Giulio Sturla and Christy Martin aim to eliminate wastage, by writing a new menu each day, curated from the ingredients they've found. A perfectly matched wine for each round harmonised our decedent 10-course meal. The dishes that struck a cord were the Pumpkin gnocchi, served with complementing flavours of onion, cheese, pancetta and miners' lettuce. An intricate dish, juxtaposed with the creamy texture of gnocchi. However, the star of the show was the Blackfoot Paua, served in a complex broth, with celeriac and crispy kale. The Paua has been tenderised until melting point, and then sliced into fine, delicate pieces. The idea of Roots was to change the way we think about food, create the perfect fusion of decadence and simplicity, all the way from how the food was harnessed to the flavours on the plate.

Hotel Montreal

With full hearts and bellies, we made our way to our stay for the night, the very cool and contemporary Hotel Montreal that overlooks Hagley Park. The hotel is very young in aesthetic and design, creating the perfect artsy escape. A good nights sleep and breakfast at the hotel restaurant is just what we needed to begin the next chapter of our journey.

Christchurch New Zealand
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