WORD Finder: Things to do in Christchurch – WORD Christchurch

Kia ora, welcome to Ōtautahi if you are in town for the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival. Here’s some things to check out while you are here - with a focus on the central city, where this year's WORD takes place.


Poetry nā Hinemoana Baker
Poetry nā Hinemoana Baker. Victoria Street, Christchurch. Flickr 013-07-30

Go down to The Terraces and see the poetry on the banks by Apirana Taylor. Wander further afield and see Ōtākaro to Victoria nā Hinemoana Baker at a mini-park at 108 Victoria Street. There are also poems on power poles on Victoria Street: Whakapapa by Ariana Tikao, and Victoria Street by Ben Brown.


The splendid University Bookshop UBS will be on site at festival venues.

Scorpio Books is in the new BNZ complex at 120 Hereford Street if you want to wander to a bookshop in town and browse. They will be hosting National Poetry Day readings on Friday 26 August.

(If you want to browse old books as well as new, try Smiths Bookshop at the Tannery).

Arty types

Biochemic handbook by Natasha Allan
Biochemic handbook by Natasha Allan. Carpe Librum: Seize the book exhibition. ArtBox, Ara Institute. Flickr 2016-08-17-IMG_5568

Carpe Librum: Seize the book is on show at the Artbox by the Ara Institute in Madras Street. We've taken some photos - it is stunning.

Christchurch people are very proud of our Christchurch Art Gallery - the people as well as the building and exhibitions. Some WORD events take place here. Take the opportunity to check out the exhibition Bloomsbury South: The Arts in Christchurch 1933 - 1953 that ties in with Peter Simpson's new book - he'll be presenting a session as well as the book launch. (Book your tickets for Bloomsbury South, Sat 27 Aug, 4pm). Other shows are well worth a look including Doris Lusk and Fiona Pardington.

There's an Antony Gormley sculpture in the river called Stay. And HEAPS more cool public art and street art.

Stay by Antony Gormley
Stay by Antony Gormley. SCAPE Public Art. Flickr 2015-10-4-IMG_9872

Libraries (and free wifi)

As a librarian, it behoves me to plug our temporary central libraries. Central Library Manchester (not open on Sunday) - 1.2 km from The Piano - and Central Library Peterborough - a mere 550 metres or 7 minutes walk. There is free wifi, and computers to use as well as books, mags, etc.

If you want to find out more about Christchurch, our website has a motherlode of local history information.

Margaret Mahy Playground

Not just for kids. I am having visions of writers and festivalgoers shooting down the flying fox of an evening. Make it so.

Plus the place is a tribute to our great writers - word witch Margaret Mahy and peace activist heroine Elsie Locke. The wonderful David Levithan will be delivering the Margaret Mahy Lecture on Saturday morning (27 August).

Margaret Mahy Playground
Margaret Mahy Playground. Flickr 2015-12-23-IMG_1733

Botanic Gardens and the Museum

Cuningham House
Cuningham House, Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Flickr 2014-07-27-IMG_0809

A favourite local outing is a visit to the Canterbury Museum and the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Highlights are the daffodils, the new Visitor Centre at the Botanic Gardens, gaudy, gorgeous Peacock fountain, conservatories, and the interesting Christchurch Antarctic collection at the Museum.

The Quake City exhibition is on display at 99 Cashel Street, near the ReStart container mall and gives a good insight into what Christchurch people have been through.

The Reading Room

A photo op for you book-loving types, near the site of our new Central Library.

Food & drink

Here are plenty of great hospo venues in close proximity to the Festival including:

C1 Espresso - there are some exciting WORD collaborations going on this place. The book launch for Let's take a walk is here tomorrow (Wednesday) at 6pm. It's a pretty damn cool spot in general - curly fries and pneumatic tube food are a Christchurch must. The Spinoff after dark will be on here on Saturday night.

New Regent Street is full of foody spots including:

There's some new takeaway spots at the new BNZ Centre in 120 Hereford Street - including Burger Fuel, Hachi hachi, and Mumbiwala.

Here's a few more gourmand faves:

  • Vanilla Ices in Victoria Square (weekends at the moment) I love the ice-cream and secret recipe raspberry.
  • Escarto Espresso in Cathedral Square (great coffee, and they use Whittakers Dark Ghana in their hot and iced chocs - yum).
  • Rollickin' Gelato at the Margaret Mahy Playground.
  • Friday Night Food Trucks in Cathedral Square, after which you might feel like a wee boogie at the Dance-o-mat on the corner of Colombo and Gloucester Streets.

If you want to explore more things to do in Christchurch, try:

Any other tips for places to see? Share them here! Kōrerorero mai - Join the conversation.