On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:The cuisine of New Zealand is just as diverse as the population. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the five best food experiences in Christchurch:
1. Hāngi. The Willowbank wildlife reserve regularly hosts Maori cultural shows that include Maori-style hāngi, a style of cooking with food roasted in an earth oven that brings out the flavor.
2. Flat White. Similar to a latte, the flat white is a jewel of Wellington's coffee scene, but has migrated to Christchurch as well. The Addington Coffee co-op serves a good example.
3. Whitebait. All seafood is popular in New Zealand, but none as much as this tender little white fish. Often served fried into an omelet called a whitebait fritter, this is a quintessential taste of New Zealand.
4. Kumara. A type of sweet potato that was brought to New Zealand by Maori settlers from Polynesia, the kumara is a staple of the cuisine here. It shows up in all sorts of forms, so be sure to try it at least once.
5. Pavlova. This classic dessert of airy meringue layered with lemon curd and fresh fruit was created in New Zealand, so it’s a must. It was named after Anna Pavlova, a famous Russian ballerina who visited New Zealand in 1926.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:Most Christchurch nightlife used to be centered in the few blocks around Cathedral Square. But since that area was hardest hit by the 2011 earthquake, many of those venues are closed indefinitely. However, the Christchurch Casino has reopened, with casino games as well as live bands on weekends and other scheduled events. Much of the Christchurch bar scene has temporarily shifted to the nearby suburbs. Speight's, an excellent South Island brewery, runs ale houses in the city and in nearby Ferrymead. You’ll find several other bars and clubs in Ferrymead, and also in Riccarton and Merivale. More bars and clubs are expected to reopen in 2013, though most have not yet set specific dates.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:If you only have one day to explore Christchurch, Forbes Travel Guide suggests you wake up early and take a stroll around Cathedral Square, checking out the rebuilding efforts and the city's English architecture. Take a punt boat down the Avon River, then get some eating and shopping done at the Re:START complex on Cashel Street. In the late morning, take a short trip to either Hanmer Springs for a spa day or a bungee jump; or head to Akaroa to see dolphins and explore the French shops. Get back late in the afternoon, in time for a booked tour at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, which offers a chance to see native animals and take part in a Maori culture show, with a hāngi for dinner. Late night, visit a bar in Ferrymead or one of the other near suburbs, or make a stop at the Christchurch Casino.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:The accommodations in Christchurch are more likely to be found in quaint country inns than in luxurious full-service hotels. And unfortunately, several of the city’s luxury hotel choices are still rebuilding post-earthquake. Until construction is complete, here are Forbes Travel Guide editors’ suggestions for the five best places to stay in Christchurch.
1. The George Christchurch. With modern decor in a vintage structure, this highly-rated boutique hotel is an ideal blend of Christchurch sensibilities, and overlooks the Avon river. With a staff ratio of 1-to-1, you’ll find the ultimate in attentive service at The George.
2. Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch. This large hotel is right near Cathedral Square, and rooms offer views of the Southern Alps. The Rendezvous has a large gym featuring a sauna, and the rooms have stylish amenities.
3. Millennium Hotel Christchurch. The Millennium is known for its large, well-appointed rooms and ideal location right on Cathedral Square, near the city's art gallery and Botanic Gardens. It’s not as plush as a luxury hotel, but it’s a convenient and comfortable place to stay.
4. Terre Vive Luxury Suites & Apartments. A brand new property built in 2012, Terre Vive is a boutique apartment complex. Each room includes a kitchenette, full bathroom and complimentary Internet access; some also have Jacuzzi tubs and balconies. It’s just a short stroll from central Christchurch and Victoria Street.
5. Otahuna Lodge. An exclusive country estate featuring just seven suites, the Otahuna Lodge personifies the term boutique. Each room in the historic building shows its heritage in features like moldings, ornate fireplaces, carved inglenooks and stained glass windows. Service is wonderfully warm as well, recalling a time past.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:The natural beauty of Christchurch and the surrounding terrain is just magical, especially for children. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the best things to do with kids in Christchurch.
1. Tour Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. This small zoo has all sorts of creatures native to the southern hemisphere that you might not see elsewhere. They include fallow deer that will eat from your hand, ostriches, wallabies, lemurs, and even a nocturnal kiwi house. At night, the reserve hosts Maori cultural shows, featuring dancing and storytelling.
2. See a rugby game. Christchurch and the Canterbury region routinely yield some of New Zealand's best rugby players. With its regular stadium under repair, the Crusaders squad now plays at a park in the suburb of Addington, but still boasts an outstanding roster.
3. Stroll through The Botanic Gardens. The city's quaint Botanic Gardens are worth a stroll, and they’re a great place to spot unusual local birds. The exteriors of many closed buildings nearby, like the Arts Centre and Museum of Canterbury, are worth a look for their vintage English architecture.
4. Take the TranzAlpine Railway. One of the best short train rides in the world, the TranzAlpine goes across the South Island to the west coast city of Greymouth roundtrip every day. The scenery is beautiful, the train ride itself is fun especially for kids, and Greymouth is a pleasant spot.
5. Visit Hagley Park. This gorgeous public park near the city center is also doubling as the city's events and festivals hotspot. It hosts outdoor concerts, art festivals and other fun events. Check the schedule for what's going on during your stay.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:Christchurch has a wide variety of attractions ranging from natural wonders to man-made edifices that show the country’s English roots. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the five best things to do in Christchurch.
1. Go punting on the Avon. A local tradition is to take a 1900s-style, flat-bottomed punt boat along the Avon River; if you’ve been to Venice it might remind you of that city’s gondolas. You sit back while a punter rows the small craft along the peaceful Avon in downtown Christchurch.
2. See a show at The Court Theatre. Formerly housed in the downtown Arts Centre, this renowned theater company has temporarily relocated to suburban Addington, but still performs exciting new plays and popular favorites.
3. Stop by Cathedral Square. The pre-earthquake center of the city is now fenced off. It used to house regular public events, but it's still worth walking around the area to see the rebuilding efforts and really get a sense of the earthquake's impact. The Cathedral itself sustained heavy damage, but is still worth a distant look.
4. Explore Hanmer Springs. Take a day trip to this picturesque town not far from the city; it’s a short trip by car or shuttle bus. Hanmer Springs was built on a hot spring perfect for a swim or a spa day, and is a popular destination for adventure activities like bungee jumping.
5. Take a Black Cat Cruise. See the city from the water on a two-hour nature cruise on Akaroa Harbor. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the rare Hector dolphins as well as seals, petite blue penguins and sites of historical importance.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:One of the best things about Auckland is its proximity to beautiful islands, all accessible by ferry. Great Barrier Island is the largest, about four hours away by ferry, and has enormous beaches and sand dunes. Visitors often spend a few days at Great Barrier, which is known for surfing and diving. The much-closer Waiheke Island is a popular day trip for Aucklanders, who travel there to enjoy with eight scenic beaches and long bike trails along the coast. Nature enthusiasts should take a day trip or overnight camping excursion to Tiritiri Matangi Island, a protected wildlife sanctuary in the Hauraki Gulf that's home to highly endangered takahē bird, kiwi and other New Zealand birds.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:The far northern part of New Zealand's North Island grows ancient kauri gum trees, many of them millennia old, and some dating back to the great Ice Age. Kauri forests are still plentiful, and its beautiful wood is used to make unique collectibles. Ancient kauri bowls, tools, clocks, tikis and other decorative or practical wood crafts can be found throughout Auckland, including in several stores on the main strip of Queen Street in the city center. Because of its lasting beauty, ancient kauri is a popular wedding or anniversary gift, and it's a strong wood that makes beautiful pieces.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:Since Auckland is located on the water, expect to find many seafood dishes. Maori, Indian and British culture shape the cuisine here, so it’s a mix of all three. Here are Forbes Travel Guide editors’ suggestions for the best Auckland food experiences:
1. Kumara Tempura. Good sushi is available throughout Auckland, but make sure to go beyond the familiar and try this popular fusion dish made with a sweet potato-like root vegetable that Maori people originally brought from Polynesia.
2. Thali. Thali is an Indian meal built around a pile of rice topped with different curries and vegetable dishes. At Rasoi, a no-frills spot on Karangahape Road you’ll find a delicious combination thali dishes, and the best Indian desserts anywhere in Auckland.
3. Hoki fish & chips. The British influence on New Zealand cuisine shines in this classic pub meal made with the local hoki fish, which is white and flaky like cod. It’s easy to find at takeaway shops like LJS and Marsic Brothers.
4. Hāngi. Check out the local events schedule before you arrive and find a hāngi, a traditional Maori outdoor meal with food prepared in a dugout earth oven that brings out the flavors particularly well.
5. Ice cream. There’s nowhere better to taste ice cream infused with the flavors of local fruits than Giapo Ice Cream & Research Kitchen. Try the delicious Kiwi-specific flavors — like maunka honey, Wild Rock sauvignon blanc sorbet, or feijoa — from this wildly creative dessert shop downtown.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:Auckland is a late-night city, and there are dozens of clubs and late-night bars scattered throughout the central district. As befits such a diverse city, you can find something for every taste. There are chic, high-end venues like Spy Bar or Club DELUXE, as well as dance-and-DJ showcases like Devo Nightclub, Flight Lounge, Zen, or The Lounge on High Street. Auckland also boasts some memorable theme venues, like the Soviet-themed Lenin Bar on Prince's Wharf, or the nearby Freddy's Ice House, where all furniture is made of carved ice and patrons are given thick parkas upon entering. SkyCity Hotel also has a few all-night bars popular with visitors, and the complex's casino stays busy late into the evening.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:To see Auckland in one day, get up early and have an Italian coffee at a cafe, then take a walk along Viaduct Harbour, stopping at the maritime museum or taking a short harbor cruise. Do some shopping along Queen Street, working your way south toward Sky Tower. Go up to the observation deck to see the city or, if you're more adventurous, try the Sky Jump or Sky Walk. Have lunch in the city center, then take a bus or a long walk south to the Mt. Eden neighborhood and hike to the top of the namesake volcano. Then head to either Auckland Zoo or the War Memorial Museum in the Domain for a few hours. If the All Blacks or one of the Auckland teams are in town, spend the evening at a rugby match at Eden Park. Otherwise, grab dinner at one of the ethnic restaurants in the central business district or see a play at the Civic Theater near SkyCity Hotel. Have a nightcap at a pub or club near Queen Street for a few drinks and live music.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:In Auckland, great shopping is found almost everywhere in the central business district, which is lined with shops for every taste and style. Jewelry stores near the harbor specialize in jade carvings or Tahitian pearls. Fine arts shops, like From N to Z and Real Aotearoa, sell a mix of traditional and modern Kiwi pieces. The DFS Galleria in the city's old customs house has a wide variety of popular duty-free goods. If you're looking for inexpensive gift or mementos, check out the Victoria Park Market, a landmark that's home to a number of craft stores, clothing shops, food booths and quirky kiosks. The arts district Ponsonby has stores by local fashion stars like Karen Walker and Robyn Mathieson. On weekends, check out the outdoor Aotea Square Market near SkyCity, where local artists sell ceramics, carvings, and other unique merchandise.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:Auckland is all about adventure and your kids will love being along on this trip. Here are Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks for the five best things to do with kids in Auckland.
1. Visit Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World. This popular aquarium has more than 30 live animal exhibits, and lets visitors get up-close views of sharks, huge rays, and Antarctic penguins. Underwater tunnels let you see the animals swimming around you.
2. Tour Auckland Zoo. Opened in 1922, the impressive Auckland Zoo has more than 100 species, including rare Sumatran tigers, red pandas and kiwis. The zoo hosts daily animal encounters, in which keepers introduce visitors to specific animals.
3. See the War Memorial Museum. The Domain, the city's largest park, is also home to this huge natural history museum. Make sure to check out the sections on the Pacific islands, New Zealand colonial history, and the bird and animal specimens.
4. Watch a Maori cultural show. Take in a performance by a Maori dance group; shows usually feature the haka, a poi dance, and tales from Maori legends. Some local Maori meeting houses host performances, as does the War Memorial Museum and several tour companies.
5. Explore Rainbow's End. The country's premier amusement park, Rainbow's End has roller coasters, bumper cars, and log rides — all the fun rides you'd expect. It also has costumed characters walking around, and activities for older kids like miniature golf and a video arcade.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:Auckland is an active place so expect to spend your time hiking, sailing or maybe even jumping off a tall tower. Forbes Travel Guide editors have picked out these activities as the five best things to do in Auckland.
1. Go up Sky Tower. The tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere, Sky Tower dominates the Auckland skyline and offers stunning 360-degree views of the city below. The observation deck has areas with clear floors that let you look directly down, and telescopes to zoom in on spots all over Auckland.
2. Enjoy Viaduct Harbour. Auckland is nicknamed the “City of Sails,” and its harbor is always full of boats. Visit the excellent Voyager Maritime Museum, take a harbor cruise on a vintage vessel, or just watch the sailboats while dining at an outdoor cafe.
3. Watch rugby at Eden Park. Rugby is easily the most popular sport in New Zealand, and historic Eden Park is the best place to watch the World Cup champion All Blacks national team. Depending on the time of year, the park hosts matches in international play, the Super 15 tournament and the nationwide Air New Zealand Cup.
4. Hike up Mt. Eden. The highest natural point in the Auckland area is this green, dormant volcano just south of town. It's a pleasant hike to the top, and the mountain has an unusual cone shape. From the top, you get a great view of the city and the harbor beyond it.
5. Sky jump. Adventurous travelers shouldn't miss this unique activity — jumping 192 meters from the top of Sky Tower while attached to a cable. You’ll find controlled base-jumping offers an exhilarating rush similar to skydiving.