Crowne Plaza Christchurch & the Food Scene

We arrived in Christchurch after another long, but beautiful drive from Franz Josef Glacier through Arthur’s Pass National Park and Korowai Tussocklands Park. Combined with all the stops along the way, the standard 6 hour drive took more like 8 hours with all the stops. I chose the Crowne Plaza Christchurch as our hotel when I realized that I still had some IHG points leftover from writing out all those postcards. I noticed when I did a quick search that there was a recently opened Crowne Plaza conveniently located in the center of Christchurch. The one night stay cost 25,000 points per room per night.

The hotel is one of a new batch of buildings rising up from the remenants city which suffered from the great 2011 earthquake which struck the region.


Arrival & Check In

We pulled up to the parking lot around the corner from the hotel and walked the short distance from the parking lot to the hotel. There isn’t a bell hop on call or valet parking, but you can wheel out the hotel luggage cart to the parking lot and gather up your luggage.

The lobby of the hotel was decorated for Christmas and was characterized by design elements and furniture of a modern hotel.

The check in process was swift and I didn’t have to even ask to be upgraded to the corner view room at the hotel due to my IHG Platinum status (from the credit card). Along with our room keys, the receptionist also handed us some free drink coupons to use at the bar Social Wine Bar in the lobby of the hotel. Breakfast was not included in our rate and we didn’t find the need for it given all the fabulous restaurants at our doorstep.

Social Wine Bar

Before we headed to our room we used up the drink coupons at the adjacent Social Wine Bar. I have no clue what mocktail I ordered, but it was certainly very good and came with a tray of snacks which included some chips and nuts. The bar itself appeared to be more of a spot for locals to gather and have a proper afternoon tea rather than a late night gathering place. But then again, hotel occupancy was surprisingly low during our stay despite it being around Christmas.

Deluxe Corner Room

I actually took pictures of my parents room because it was empty, but our room was the exact same as this one with the only difference being that we had two double beds. The rooms were spacious and fresh (as you would expect from a recently built property).

Our room was located on a higher floor and owing to its position in the corner, it had great views of the city and the nearby hills. It was a pity that I didn’t get a chance to photograph the hilly countryside that afternoon because the light just began to explode in all kinds of oranges and yellows.

The restroom was quite spacious and featured a stand in shower (with rainshower head) and large vanity. I’ll spare you the individual images of the toilet and toiletries because they were completely unremarkable.

WiFi was fast and free (for IHG members) throughout our stay and the hotel had all the standard amenities.


Dinner @ Mumbaiwala 

The first night we wandered around town for a bit and I believe since it was Sunday night, most places were closed when we decided to get a bite to eat. My initial plans were to hit PitaPit (which is absolutely awesome in New Zealand), but the place was already closed for the day. There is no end to the number of restaurants offering vegetarian food in most New Zealand towns, but none of them seemed to be open.

It always seems like Indian restaurants have the most extensive hours in any city I visit because there was a fabulous, upscale Indian restaurant just three stores down which was open late. The place is called Mumbaiwala and it specializes in Indian street food. It was quite easily among the best Indian restaurants I’ve visited, an unexpected find.

The restaurant was quite packed the first night we were there, but somehow we we managed to get a high table in a corner. The place was extremely popular among locals (including ones of Indian origins) which is always a good sign. We actually ended up coming back to Mumbaiwala the following evening, for dinner, just before our flight to Melbourne (yeah it is definitely worth it).

We hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast that morning at the hotel, so we ordered quite a wide variety of food, ranging from appetizers to main course. By the end there was no room for any dessert. Not only was the food tasty, but the service was exceptionally good as well. The final bill came out to around 50 USD + tip I believe, which is extremely reasonable for a family of 4. So if you are ever in need of some Indian food, this is the place to visit while in Christchurch.


Day 2

Anyway the following day we got to explore a bit more of Central Christchurch, which actually didn’t take too long. Well because there isn’t much to see. We noticed that the famous church which gave the city its name was still being repaired and refurbished after it sustained heavy damage from the earthquake back in 2011. Most of the town is still rebuilding from that natural calamity, but it looks like the city is coming back stronger. There were many people strolling around the central business district just taking in the beautiful weather.

 

Since we didn’t have breakfast at the hotel, we stopped by Pita Pit for an early lunch. I absolutely love their falafel wraps. They seemed to be especially fresh and flavorful in New Zealand where I believe they are headquartered. It’s certainly a fairly healthy fast food treat everyone should have while they are in New Zealand.

While my parents and I got PitaPit, my sister opted to go next door and try the veggie burger at BurgerFuel. I only tasted it, but I would certainly make it my to go place if PitaPit wasn’t right next door. The place has 4 different kinds of veggie burgers. For your reference, we only tried out the V8 Vegan, which is definitely worth trying.

Again you can clearly see how many affordable options there are for vegetarian food in New Zealand. In general I’m always astounded by how good the food culture is in New Zealand. I still can’t believe that a sparsely populated country like that can have way better vegetarian options than the U.S (shame on us).

After having a bite to eat, we browsed around some stores and relaxed in the hotel room for a bit. Before we knew it was time to say our good byes to New Zealand and head off to Melbourne. Just writing this trip report makes me even more nostalgic of my time in New Zealand than ever before.


Bottom Line

The city: Though there isn’t much to see and do in Christchurch itself, it certainly makes for an ideal starting point for any adventures on the South Island of New Zealand. As New Zealand’s second largest city (and largest on the South Island) it certainly deserves a visit or a stay for atleast one night. I was most of all surprised by the number of great restaurants in the center of town, I was never short on choice.

The hotel: the Crowne Plaza Christchurch is a great place to stay while in the city. It is close all the shops and restaurants in the area and comes in at a very reasonable price of 25000 points per night. The accommodations are modern and the hotel has all the amenities anyone needs. I would most certainly return to stay here if I were back in Christchurch.


Have you been to Christchurch? What do you think of the New Zealand food scene?

TRIP REPORT INDEX:

United Club SFO Concourse F Rotunda
United Global First Lounge – SFO (Now Replaced with the Polaris Lounge)
United NEW Polaris SFO-AKL (777-300ER)
Air New Zealand Economy AKL-CHC
AirBnB Review: Lake Tekapo
Focal Point: Tekapo
World’s Greatest Drives: Tekapo to Franz Josef Glacier
Te Waonui Forest Retreat: Franz Josef Glacier
Focal Point: Lake Matheson
Focal Point: Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Crowne Plaza Christchurch
Manaia (Priority Pass) Lounge Christchurch
Qantas Economy Christchurch – Melbourne
Westin Melbourne
Focal Point: The Twelve Apostles
Singapore Airlines First Class Lounge Melbourne
Singapore Airlines First Class Melbourne – Singapore
Singapore Airlines Private Room @ Changi
Singapore Airlines Silver Kris Lounge @ Changi
Singapore Airlines Economy Class Singapore – Hyderabad
Westin Hyderabad Mindspace
Focal Point: Hyderabad – Old City
Plaza Premium Lounge Hyderabad
Etihad Business Class HYD-AUH-DFW
Etihad Business Class Lounge Abu Dhabi
Etihad Business Class Lounge Abu Dhabi (US Departures)