Marcia Butterfield thought Christchurch was getting a bad rap after the earthquakes so she set about proving otherwise.
With a background in marketing and communications, Marcia established Neat Places – an innovative and practical guide aimed at celebrating local, distinctive and one-of-a-kind businesses.
What started as a “hobby project” went on to become a beacon for anyone looking for what to do or where to go in post-earthquake Christchurch.
Neat Places is as much for discerning urban visitors as it is for locals, with information available via a website, smartphone app and handy printed guides.
It has expanded into Auckland, Dunedin, Wellington and Hamilton and Marcia hopes to one day showcase the “neat places” of every town across the country.
In saying that, Christchurch will always be home.
Marcia is particularly interested in the city’s café, bar and restaurant culture, as well as its arts scene.
“I’ll never tire of the creativity and inspiration that this city gives me, or the big open spaces and endless possibilities that surround us.”
She says the city is thriving not just because of new building developments and café, bar and restaurant openings, but because people are also driving new projects and fresh ways of thinking at a grassroots level.
“I believe Christchurch is a city where it’s impossible to get bored. It sounds clichéd but there truly is something for everyone.”
Marcia Butterfield’s top five things to do in Christchurch
- The Earthquake Memorial alongside the river on Montreal Street is a truly humbling display of architecture and gives visitors a sense of just how much the earthquake shook the bones of this city. I use this as a place to find some solace and gain an appreciation for just how far Christchurch and its people have come.
- Infinite Definite is a special place due to its passion for New Zealand fashion and a handful of cult international fashion labels.
- For lunch, a must visit is Grain Coffee & Eatery on Southwark Street. Chunky sandwiches and generous servings of salad are all made in-house and change daily, so even frequent visitors can try something different for lunch.
- The immaculate grounds at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. They are big enough to find your own private spot to read a book, play a ball game or simply wander through with a coffee from the onsite café and gallery.
- Further north, Black Estate is one of my most-loved Canterbury places and a popular spot for wine lovers. The winery, tasting room and restaurant is famous not only for its organic and biodynamic wines but also its refreshing approach to food. At least 90 per cent of the restaurant’s produce comes from Canterbury.
How to get there
In New Zealand’s South Island, Christchurch is the country’s second-largest city. It has an international airport, and there are regular flights from other domestic centres.
Best time to visit
In autumn, the changing of the leaves makes the city’s historic districts especially beautiful. With ski areas such as Porters and Mt Hutt nearby, you can enjoy a winter wonderland. Known as 'the Garden City', Christchurch comes to life in spring, while summer is an opportunity to enjoy some of the city’s 40 safe swimming beaches.
From Christchurch and within 90 minutes’ drive, you can be in the Waipara Valley vineyard region, or in the historic French settlement of Akaroa in the heart of a now extinct volcano or at Mt Hutt which is the region’s premier commercial ski area, or soaking your cares away at Hanmer Hot Springs. Lyttelton, about 20 minutes from the centre of Christchurch, is a quirky, relaxed port town and the city’s oldest settlement.