Lisa Wicksteed's Christchurch

I’ve lived in Ōtautahi all my life because I love the easy access to both rolling hills and ocean. I’ve been a hospitality owner-operator for more than 20 years. My introduction started at a young age. My father owned a fish shop and would take us to dine at the many restaurants he supplied. Dad made such genuine connections with people in his business that we were always treated to memorable experiences.

I have always loved the feeling of visiting a restaurant. I’m a romantic when it comes to hospitality as I want everybody who dines with us to feel the magic of the space. Now my work is around providing other hospitality establishments with the tools for bringing old school hospo values to the forefront.

Fall in love with the Arts Centre

1 Hereford Street, Arts Centre, Christchurch Central

This restored collection of buildings is an absolute city treasure. You’ll find a crepe stand and also a real fruit ice cream truck. There are lots of lovely local shops and you can have a look into Rutherford’s Den. If all this wandering and learning is a bit exhausting, call into Cellar Door for a flight of your favourite wine selection.

Cellar Door bar at the Arts Centre.

Jaunt to Black Estate Winery

614 Omihi Road, Waipara, North Canterbury

Black Estate is family owned and operated by Pen and Nick - you can feel it and you can see it. There is nothing like a jaunt out to North Canterbury to refresh your senses on a sunny day. I love sitting on the picnic rugs and looking down the sloping vineyard at the very vines that grew the grapes in your Chenin blanc. It’s bliss. There is à la carte dining in the restaurant, but be sure to book. If you arrive unannounced, there’s an option to have a picnic out with a pie and something delicious to drink.

People dining inside Black Estate in Waipara.

Japanese tacos at Bar Yoku

20 Welles Street, Christchurch Central

You’ll find Bar Yoku at The Welder, which is well worth a visit. The Welder is a collective of cool hospitality and health offerings that frame an open plan communal eating space.  The vibe is long tables, hanging chairs and lots of greenery. Bar Yoku is an Izakaya Japanese Bar in the back of the Welder, serving punchy Japanese snacks as well as the best Yakitori in town. My favourite from here is the soft shell crab taco - tempura sheet of nori in the shape of a taco - crammed with rice, crab, micro herbs and kewpie. My other favourites include white fish sashimi, smoked bonito cream, pickled cucumber and shiso!

Japanese Tacos and a cocktail on the table at Bar Yoku.

Sweet treat at Rollickin’ Gelato

35 New Regent Street, Christchurch Central

You'll discover these guys in two different locations in the city. The loud 90’s music blaring from speakers means you can’t walk by without peering in and locking eyes with an array of freshly churned goodness. I love that people will happily queue up here, passing the time reading the names of flavours posted on brown paper bags stuck to the inside window. My favourite is Mint Choc - I try to go past it, honest I do. Both venues spill out into interesting surrounds, prime spots for people-watching and taking in the cool architecture both new and old.

The busy Rollickin' Gelato store on New Regent Street.

Port-side brew at Spooky Boogie

54 London Street, Lyttelton, Christchurch

Spooky Boogie in the town of Whakaraupo Lyttelton is home to the most delicious port-side brew, hands down. This place brings a lot more than just house-roasted coffee. The artistic sensibilities of both owners are infused in everything, from the quirky gifts and jewellery to the new and used vinyl selection. And there is always a carefully-curated rotation of saleable art works on the wall as well.  I like to pick up a coffee and something delicious from Tess’s jars of homemade treats, before taking a walk down to the marina to sit and contemplate!

Staff members standing behind the counter at Spooky Boogie.

Champers at Twenty Seven Steps

16 New Regent Street, Christchurch Central

Twenty Seven Steps is an intimate, French-inspired bistro that overlooks the buzzy New Regent Street. I like the madness of this place.  It has a pumping atmosphere and is always packed to the hilt, for good reason. The wine list is thoughtful and all encompassing. The food is rustic yet refined and the staff are so on to it they’re almost on rollerblades. This is where we go to celebrate, sitting at the table in the back corner with a glass of champers and hopefully some great news. I also like to come up here by myself on occasion to sit in the front window with a glass of Pedro Ximenez and a plate of whatever delicious dessert is going.

A hand holding a glass of champagne.

Relaxation at Victoria Park

Victoria Park Road. Port Hills, Christchurch

This is a favourite place to go if I'm needing to get back to nature. I often park up, take a rug and a book and a cushion and find a small bit of grass. There are numerous walking and mountain biking tracks for different abilities, plus a great playground and a dog park.  The views over the city are amazing. If I'm walking, my track of choice is Harry Ell, which wraps around the side of the hill and isn't too vigorous. There's a café at the end if you are in need of a coffee or an ice cream for your efforts.

The playground at Victoria Park.

Foraging with Peter Langlands

Banks Peninsula, Christchurch

Something that I have never done, but always wanted to do, is a tour with professional forager Peter Langlands. His tour hits the Banks Peninsula’s hot spots for edible indigenous goods. I met Peter when he stopped by my restaurant for a bite to eat. He brought in with him a handful of foraged mushrooms and asked if we wouldn’t mind using them to top a pizza. We got talking about some of the interesting plants that framed the building and the various ways that ‘wood sorrel’ could be used in cooking.

A rooster under peach trees.

Botanic Gardens with a cuppa

Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch Central

If I have two hours to spare and the sun is shining, I love to park up at the Botanic Gardens and walk into the Ilex café. The Ilex is an airy greenhouse, situated smack bang in the middle of the gardens. I usually grab a coffee and walk around the rose gardens. After the gardens, stroll over to the Christchurch Art Gallery and check what's showing.

Two people standing outside the glasshouse at the Botanic Gardens.

Fluff Oysters from the Farmers Market

16 Kahu Road, Fendalton, Christchurch

This hidden gem is held every Saturday, rain or shine, from 9am-1pm in the amazing grounds of Riccarton House and bush. The market showcases loads of local Canterbury producers. You’ll find fresh fruit and vegetables, organic bread and delicious pastries, cheese and meats. There’s a lot of love in this market and most of the stall holders are the people behind their products. Grab some cinnamon oysters, sponge filled with fresh cream, from Tina and George at the ‘Fluff Oyster’ stall on your way out, and sit on the grassed banks of the Ōtakaro Avon River in the gardens.

A plate of Fluff Oysters on a white table.