Conquering New Zealand's South Island! CHRISTCHURCH and surrounds MUST EAT & VISIT Edition!

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Kia Ora!

We just returned from our winter trip and I have missed all the breathtaking natures at every corner we went.. Only approximately 3 hours by plane from Sydney, this gifted land with all the picturesque and nature's wonders can be a perfect escape plan for all type of travellers.. 

New Zealand consists of two main islands, Te Ika-a-Maui (Fish of Maui) aka the North Island and Te Waipounamu (The place of greenstone) aka the South Island.. We went to both islands but spent most of the time on the South Island.. Without further ado, here's our MUST VISIT list!

1. Christchurch

After series of serious earthquakes with the most devastating one back in February 2011, Christchurch is still in the process of rebuilding its city centre.. Many of the affected suburbs are considered red zones and most of the buildings are being demolished as it's deemed unfit for reconstruction.. 



We started our day leisurely at one of the famous temporary replacement buildings that are now part of the city centre landmarks, the so-called Re:Start Mall.. It is actually an outdoor space made from shipping containers and filled with different shops, food trucks and a market on the weekend.. 



No visit to Christchurch is complete without trying this Dimitri Souvlaki.. Known as one of the best souvlaki in town, they have served the locals for more than 20 years!



We chose a single beef souvlaki and it's served with fresh tomato and lettuce, tzatziki and homemade tomato sauce.. The pita bread was fresh, warm and soft enough to wrap around the fragrant meat and fillings..


Get one or two cuppa from this well known Christchurch coffee brand (they've been roasting the beans since 1990), Hummingbird Coffee.. We also ordered a traditional New Zealand biscuit, Afghan, to go along with our coffee.. It was rich in cocoa flavour and crunchy!


As the original Christchurch Cathedral was damaged by the 2011 earthquake, a transitional cathedral made from cardboard was built for the community.. This simple A-frame cathedral can hold around 700 people and becomes one of tourist attractions in the city centre.



Situated across the Cardboard Cathedral, this 185 Empty White Chairs with different sizes and designs are a symbolic tribute to the 185 people who died in the 2011 earthquake.. These were put together and painted individually by Christchurch painter, Pete Majendie..

Where to eat?
- C1 Espresso

Quirky is the word left in my head after visiting this boutique cafe.. They redefine fast food by installing the pneumatic tubes around the ceiling and use it to deliver the sliders from one end to every table at 100 kilometres per hour.. 



Since we came for breakfast, we could only order their pneumatic curly fries on top of their breakfast menu as the sliders were only available between 3pm and 9pm..


- Black Betty
 

This simple cafe offers some of the best breakfast options in town.. Don't forget to try their Breakfast Stack if you fancy some potato cake to start your morning..

- Samurai Bowl

It's rare to find a Japanese restaurant offering Yuhoe-don as part of their rice dish.. Samurai Bowl served it with their own original soy sauce and soft boiled egg in the centre.. They also offered sushi rice instead of normal white rice to go along with your fresh sashimi..

2. Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo is about 3 hours drive from Christchurch and just a short drive away from the New Zealand's highest mountain, Mt Cook (Aoraki).. On the shores of the lake, you'll see one of the most photographed church and a popular photo spot for visitors in New Zealand, the Church of the Good Shepherd.. 


Lake Tekapo is also part of a UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve making it one of the perfect spot for stargazing.. We headed back to the church after our dinner and it was already crowded with people trying their best to capture the sparkling night sky.. Unfortunately, we came unprepared and this picture was the best one Mr. Nomnom could capture in the midst of cold weather (it dropped to below 0 degree around 8pm that night).

Where to eat?

Kohan Restaurant is a must stop whenever you visit Lake Tekapo! Thickly cut and served fresh on top of the sushi rice (plus chunks of salmon buried under the rice), their Salmon Don is very recommended and has successfully put a big smile on Mr. Nomnom's face! 

Don't forget to also order their big Tekapo Roll, double nori rolled sushi filled with sukiyaki beef, avocado, salmon and omelette as you enjoy the beautiful lake view from inside the restaurant.

3. Lake Pukaki

Do spare some of your time if you drive to/from Mt Cook to enjoy this distinctive blue colour Lake Pukaki.. Created from receding glaciers, this lake is the largest of three parallel alpine lakes on New Zealand's South Island!

Not far from the Lake Pukaki Visitor Centre, you can have lunch on the world's highest salmon farm, Mt Cook Alpine Salmon or buy their fresh salmon sashimi tray and have picnic with the majestic view of Mt Cook. 


Located in a man-made hydro canal, their Chinook (king species of salmon) grows in optimal conditions like how it would grow in the wild with fast flowing currents to swim against and as little human intervention as possible.. It lives up to its name as the most delicious, succulent, fattiest and velvety soft of all the salmon species.

4. Mount Cook

Mount Cook is a popular tourist destination and also the highest mountain and longest glaciers in New Zealand.. Some said it's alpine in the purest sense with the glaciers and permanent snow fields. 

For more experienced mountain hikers, this area is claimed to be the best climbing region in Australasia and as for the adventurers, there are 10 short walks you can choose (we were told to do the Kea Point track - it's one of the best and the easiest short walk) that will lead to alpine lake, herb fields and spectacular glacier views. 


Details:
Re:Start Mall
Address:
126 Cashel Street, Christchurch Central
Opening Hours:
10am - 5.30pm daily

Dimitris Greek Food
Address:
Re:Start Container Mall, 126 Cashel Street, Christchurch Central
Opening Hours:
10am - 5pm daily
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Hummingbird Coffee
Address:
Re: Start Container Mall, 126 Cashel Street, Christchurch Central
Opening Hours:
8am - 4pm daily


Christchurch Transitional Cathedral
Address:
234 Hereford Street, Christchurch Central

C1 Espresso
Address:
Corner High & Tuam St, Christchurch Central
Opening Hours:
7am - 10pm daily
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Black Betty 
Address:
165 Madras St, Christchurch Central
Opening Hours:
8am - 4pm daily
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Samurai Bowl
Address:
574 Colombo Street, Christchurch Central
Opening Hours:
11am - 9pm daily
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Kohan Restaurant
Address:
State Highway 8, Lake Tekapo
Opening Hours:
11am - 2pm Monday to Sunday, 6pm - 9pm Monday to Saturday

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon
Address:
State Highway 8 between Tekapo - Twizel (10km north of Twizel)
Opening Hours:
9am - 5pm daily

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