Canadian man Ryan Wilkes came to Christchurch in 2015 and is now one of the city and region’s biggest champions. We meet the man behind The Path Less Traveled – and winter weekend series.
What brought you to Christchurch from Canada originally?
Believe it or not, the thing that brought me to Christchurch was a PhD position at the University of Canterbury in Bioengineering. It wasn’t until about six months later that I started exploring New Zealand and my interests in filmmaking and photography began.
How do you describe Christchurch and Canterbury to friends back home?
Compared to my hometown of Calgary, Christchurch is really quiet. But like Calgary, it’s super close to the mountains and is an awesome home base for people who enjoy the outdoors.
What motivated you to start using digital media to promote the region?
Since I arrived I’ve always been blown away by the diversity of Canterbury. It is home to New Zealand’s tallest mountain, amazing wine country, deep blue lakes and rivers, some of the most incredible wildlife in the country and so much more. At first, I just wanted to show my family how awesome it was – and it has just taken off from there.
Where do you live in Christchurch and what do you like about living there?
After moving around a fair bit in the first two year of living in Christchurch, I’ve finally settled in Spreydon. For me it strikes the perfect balance between being within biking distance to uni, a short drive to the Port Hills, down the road from the CBD and easy access to highways to get out of town when the mountains are calling.
What do you think are our region’s best attributes?
Canterbury has got something for everyone – from adrenaline-packed jet boating or skiing to relaxing in the hot pools in Hanmer and checking out the food scene and Christchurch’s re-emerging nightlife.
What is your favourite place to grab a coffee or get a bite to eat in the city?
What is your ultimate winter weekend getaway?
The ultimate getaway for me would involve a mix of excitement and relaxation. So probably a couple days of skiing/tramping finished off with a glass of wine and a soak in some hot pools.
What is your favourite spot to grab a drink in town?
O.G.B Bar, hands down. Nick and his team provide some of the best hospitality I’ve ever experienced and their cocktail menu is unreal. Make sure you drop in during the winter to try their mulled wine!
What is your favourite weekend activity?
My favourite thing to do on the weekend is to just try something new. Whether it’s going on a new tramp, visiting a new part of the island or trying a new café in town, the thing that keeps my life so exciting is challenging myself to experience new things as often as I can.
If you had mates here from Canada for a few days, where would you take them?
If we only had a few days I would take them around Christchurch for a day, then road trip down to Aoraki/Mount Cook with a stop at Tekapo for another couple of days and finish it off with stops in Kaikōura and Hanmer Springs.