After a devastating earthquake struck Christchurch in 2011, café owner Sam Crofskey was one of the first to breathe life back into the CBD.
C1 Espresso had been operating in the city for several years when the quake hit. Buildings on the street collapsed, the CBD was declared a disaster zone and the café was damaged beyond repair. Instead of giving up, Crofskey saw an opportunity to not just rebuild but to reimagine his café.
C1 Espresso reopened in High Street in November 2012, where Crofskey and his staff now serve coffee and food to an eclectic mix of people from one of the few heritage buildings left standing.
The 83-year-old post office building was built to withstand earthquakes following a powerful 1931 earthquake that destroyed the North Island city of Napier. Crofskey oversaw extensive renovations, stripping the building back to reveal its sturdy concrete columns and making a lobby with two entrances. “People coming in can see that it’s strong,” he says.
The café grows its own vegetables, some of which are found in an inner-city garden out front, and supplies its own milk from local cows. Its coffee is grown in Samoa.
The décor is distinctly quirky with a network of pneumatic tubes running along the ceiling and snaking down into the dining area. Order a ‘Pneumatic Slider’ meal and staff will whizz your burger to you at 100km/hr.
Crofskey says there are now more cafés in Christchurch than there were before the quakes and plenty of innovative restaurants and bars.
"The city feels alive, vibrant and full of hope. If you want to give something a go, you can.”
Sam Crofskey’s top five things to do in Christchurch
- For expansive views of the city, take a 40-minute drive from the CBD via Ferry Rd to Sumner, then follow the signs to Godley Head. Regardless of the weather, this is a quick and easy reminder as to why Christchurch is home.
- The Riccarton Markets every Sunday at Riccarton Park. A sandwich from our friends at BAOdown is always the first call at these very social markets.
- Pop up markets and events. Christchurch is ever-changing and the First Thursdays performance art market is a highlight. First Thursdays is held in Sydenham on the first Thursday of every month from 5-9pm.
- The port town of Lyttelton provides a great escape from the city and is never complete without enjoying a coffee at the Lyttelton Coffee Company.
- Explore the post-quake hospitality scene – food markets, food trucks, new restaurants, bars, cafés and precincts. We enjoy the regular haunts as much as checking out all the new places.
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.
How to Book
C1 Espresso is located at 185 High Street, Christchurch. The café is open from 7am to 10pm every day and no bookings are required.