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ChristchurchNZ Spring Famil

The leafy riverside city of Ōtautahi Christchurch is known for the beauty of its four distinct seasons, and what better way to mark the start of Spring than by hosting a group of business events organisers to experience the city’s magic for themselves.

ChristchurchNZ reveals New Zealand's newest city to business events organisers

In October, ChristchurchNZ Convention Bureau hosted a Spring Famil for six conference organisers from around New Zealand. The two-day mid-week event was designed to showcase some of the best business events activity offerings in Christchurch. Guests flew into Christchurch International Airport from Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington.

48 hours in Ōtautahi Christchurch

ChristchurchNZ Convention Bureau manager, Claire Hector-Taylor said the invited guests were reacquainted with Christchurch as a business events destination, and were eager to learn more about the possibilities and opportunities here.

“With a mix of in-house and professional conference organisers in the group, everyone was excited about the opening of Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre next year, and the myriad of activities and attractions on offer in New Zealand’s newest city.

“We showed them Ōtautahi Christchurch is an epic business events destination, with new hotels and convention venues, riverside restaurants bars, boutique shopping, and charming heritage features all easily walkable within our compact city centre.”

Starting off on a high note

From the airport terminal, guests were whisked straight to GCH Aviation’s state-of-the art helicopter and jet facility nearby. Here they took to the skies for a bird’s eye view of Christchurch city, and across to the ocean and the alps. Their helicopter landed at Peppers Clearwater Resort, just minutes from the airport, for a site inspection of the lakefront hotel, golf course and newly refurbished meeting venue.

From there they travelled into the city to meet the team at the 4.5 star Rydges Latimer Christchurch. The hotel’s exceptional meeting spaces overlook scenic Latimer Square, just a short walk to all of the city’s key attractions.

Christchurch Art Gallery was the next stop, and guests were in awe of its stunning contemporary glass façade, and appealing meeting and function spaces.

Just across the road, they received a tour of The Arts Centre, a series of beautifully restored neo-Gothic Victorian stone buildings and courtyards, once the former University of Canterbury and now offering meeting and function spaces from intimate to grand.

From there it was a short walk to the Antigua Boatsheds and a classic punting experience with Christchurch Attractions through the Botanic Gardens — an absolute must-do in any season, but especially in Spring.

Then the group headed to Novotel Christchurch for a tour of this contemporary central city hotel and to take in views across the city from its accommodation and meeting rooms.

Drinks at The George overlooking Hagley Park was another highlight. There the group met with Christchurch’s wider business events community to learn first-hand about the many unique locations, activities and suppliers in the city.

Afterwards the famil guests enjoyed a memorable dinner matched with fine wines at The George’s acclaimed 50 Bistro, before experiencing for themselves the hotel's 5-star luxury for the first of two nights.

The fun continues on day two

The next day started with an incredible breakfast experience at Riverside Kitchen, set inside the city's new foodie haven, Riverside Market. In a relaxed atmosphere, the group were able to cook their own omelettes under the guidance of chef and owner Kirsten Fox. She told them about the huge range of activity and function options that Riverside Kitchen and Riverside Market can offer groups.

From there it was on to the Transitional 'Cardboard' Cathedral, where they had a chance to view the architecture and simple grandeur of this award-winning venue, and experience its versatility as an event space with ‘wow’ factor.

Next it was on to experience the new Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre. At the Te Pae offices they were given a virtual tour of the centre’s array of flexible and modern spaces, including the 1,400 seat Auditorium; the Rivers Room – a 1,000 seat banquet space; the 2,800sqm Exhibition Halls and an array of smaller meeting rooms and pre-function areas.

From there the group headed out to Wigram to inspect the world-class facilities at the Air Force Museum of New Zealand, with several inspirational spaces all offering something different.

Five minutes from the city centre, the group gathered at Riccarton House for lunch in the fine dining room, and a chance to experience the charm of one of Christchurch’s first grand homes set in pristine gardens and surrounded by native bush reserve. Here they learned the fascinating history of the area and the pioneering Christchurch family, the Deans.

There was a surprise in store at Sudima Christchurch City hotel, newly opened last year, with everyone treated to a pampering at Moss Spa, a superb luxury experience set within the hotel.

The trip to Christchurch was topped off with a walk from The George to the nearby tram stop for a tour on the heritage Tramway, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and a must-do for any visitor to the city.

Later the group headed out to The Tannery, a restored Victorian gem just 15 minutes from the city, for dinner. With five different spaces for intimate corporate events up to large conference gala dinners, The Tannery is a unique shopping and hospitality destination, which includes the impressive tiled and glass roofed Atrium, Blue Smoke, one of Christchurch’s best-loved live music venues, plus the Aga Kitchen, and the Log Shed outdoor area.

What they said

The group particularly enjoyed Christchurch’s old world charm sitting alongside its modern urban vibe. They were excited about how accessible the city and venues were, and about the great selection of facilities, suppliers and activities on offer.

Jo Kelk, Outshine Ltd – ‘A HUGE thank you for hosting and looking after us so well over the past few days. It was a great refresher and reconnection trip, and very worthwhile. So looking forward to working with everyone over the coming year, and very much appreciate all those connections.’