As one of the largest and most progressive cities in New Zealand, Christchurch plays an important role in the country’s growing cultural scene. Backed by centuries of progress and international influence, it continues to welcome new world ideas while still staying true to its heritage.
Much of Christchurch culture can be attributed to its European history. Its influence can be seen all around the city – from its architecture and buildings to its arts, entertainment and culinary scene. It boasts a vibrant community of galleries, museums, theatres, festivals, music venues, and the like. Moreover, its restaurants and cafes showcase a range of international cuisines and innovative culinary concepts.
Here’s a sneak peek into the cultural scene of Christchurch, New Zealand.
Christchurch culture can be defined by a fun, active yet relaxing lifestyle – a big part of it focused on health and wellbeing. The city boasts a number of businesses that both locals and tourists can indulge in on the daily.
- Day Spas and Beauty Salons: Lovoir has got your every need in mind with the highest rated day spa and beauty salon in Christchurch. Specialising in facials and various skin treatments, and with two locations, you’re sure to find a treatment for you. If this is something you’re new to, the friendly team can help you to choose.
- Yoga & Pilates: There are a number of Pilates and Yoga studios in Christchurch including Flow Hot Yoga in a purpose built complex on Fitzgerald Avenue, and O Studio and Reform in Central Christchurch.
- Fitness Clubs: Many health clubs and gyms in Christchurch offer memberships and day passes. A number reside within sports complexes including the ever popular Jellie Park and Taiora QEII Recreation and Sport Centre.
Christchurch’s theatre scene is a dynamic mix of the traditional and the innovative. The city is home to several live theatres, offering a diverse range of performances that cater to a variety of tastes encouraging locals to appreciate arts and entertainment.
- The Court Theatre is the largest professional theatre company in New Zealand and showcases a wide range of productions. Since its birth in 1971, it remains to be the city’s only full-time professional theatre.
- The Isaac Theatre Royal, a historic Edwardian theatre, hosts a variety of performances, including plays, ballet, and opera.
- Theatres with more niche interests and productions are the Free Theatre Christchurch and Little Andromeda (both showcasing more experimental and independent plays) and Showbiz Christchurch (primarily musical theatre).
- There are also several community-based theatre companies, like Canterbury Children’s Theatre, Christchurch Repertory Society, Elmwood Players, and Riccarton Players.
Apart from live theatre venues and companies, local theatre groups and educational institutions also contribute significantly to Christchurch’s theatre scene. They foster emerging talent, provide theatre education, and produce a variety of shows, contributing to the depth and breadth of the city’s theatrical offerings.
The music scene in Christchurch is just as vibrant and dynamic. From classical to contemporary, the city is alive with a range of musical styles, genres, live venues, and local to international artists.
- Classical Music: The Christchurch Symphony Orchestra is one of the city’s cultural icons. It is one of New Zealand’s leading orchestras, regularly performing a variety of classical masterpieces, contemporary works, and collaborative pieces with artists of other genres. The city is also home to several choirs and chamber music groups that contribute to its vibrant classical music scene.
- Contemporary Music: As for the contemporary music scene, Christchurch has local bands and artists that cover a broad spectrum of genres, from rock, pop, and hip-hop to indie, electronic, and jazz. Music venues throughout the city host live performances, providing platforms for both established and emerging artists.
- Live Music and Festivals: Venues like Christchurch Town Hall and the James Hay Theatre have seen the likes of both local artists and international acts. The city also hosts a variety of music and arts festivals, such as the World Buskers Festival, Christchurch Arts Festival, and Electric Avenue Music Festival, drawing talents from all over the world.
- Music Education: Furthermore, Christchurch has a strong tradition of music education, with institutions like the University of Canterbury and Ara Institute of Canterbury offering well-regarded music programs, fostering the city’s next generation of musical talent.
Any New Zealander would know the importance of rugby in national sports, and Christchurch is no exception. Christchurch’s AMI Stadium is the home ground of the Crusaders, one of the most successful teams in Super Rugby.
A similarly popular sport in the country is cricket. Luckily for Christchurch, it is home to the Hagley Oval, a well-known international cricket venue. The city regularly hosts matches for the national team, the Black Caps.
Apart from these sports, the diverse landscape of Christchurch also makes it popular among outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and water sports.
Film and Television
The film and television scene in Christchurch, while perhaps not as globally recognized as that of Wellington or Auckland, is still significant to the country as a whole.
For one, the city is also home to several film festivals, including the New Zealand International Film Festival and the Christchurch Documentary Film Festival, which showcase both New Zealand and international films.
Christchurch is also home to a number of local television and radio stations that are enjoyed all over the country. Local broadcasters such as CTV (Canterbury Television) and Plains FM feature content with a distinct local flavour, while also addressing national and international topics. CTV, in particular, has been an important platform for local news and community-based programming.
Additionally, Christchurch’s educational institutions offer courses and degrees in film and television, fostering new talent and contributing to the development of the industry in the region.
The cherry on top is a fun fact that many locals take pride in – the scenic landscape of Christchurch and the Canterbury region have been used in several epic films. These include The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit, Mulan, A Wrinkle in Time, Murdern on the Orient Express, Heavenly Creatures, and many more.
The culinary scene in Christchurch is one of the many things locals and tourists look forward to. It showcases a fusion of traditional British dishes with local ingredients, contributing to a unique New Zealand cuisine. The city continues to enjoy a mix of long-standing restaurants, quaint cafes, and new, innovative restaurants.