Your Gateway to the South!

The Christchurch Airport team truly believes the South Island is the best place in the world to live, visit and do business.

We champion the South Island every chance we get, including in our seasonal magazine "Gateway South". As we shrug off the colder months in this spring edition, we'll tell you of some of the many upcoming activities and events across this special island, the place we call home and love to welcome millions of visitors to… and show you some of the places you can fly to direct from this airport.


The Harris family had so much fun on their short action-packed holiday in Queensland, the children can't choose a favourite activity!

The children aged 7 to 15 had a lot of new experiences and say "I liked everything." But then, what's not to like. Warm weather, fun in the sun, wildlife, lots of different eating and accommodation options… and one three-hour flight from Christchurch.
Linda and Chris Harris say they'll definitely visit Queensland again.
"It was a fabulous family holiday and it was all great," says Linda. "One of the best things was we did everything as a family. We all did it all. I even enjoyed the ziplining which I was really frightened about, but was surprised by how much I enjoyed it and so glad I did it." Chris says the family enjoyed the vast array of choices.
"There were lots of places to stay, to eat, to walk and things to do. We did and saw a lot of things, but there's still plenty left for next time. The weather was spectacular so we were out and about every day. We crammed a lot in, but it would also have been a great holiday if we'd done less. There were different things to see, friendly people to talk to and the gentle walk along the river and through the markets was fun."
The family's action-packed break included Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, Hartleys Crocodile Adventures, Jungle Surfing Ziplining at Cape Tribulation, Port Douglas, Tangalooma Island Resort on Moreton Island and the Great Barrier Reef. They saw crocodiles, turtles, dolphins, held snakes, went snorkelling and sand-tobogganing and experienced a night at an eco-lodge in the Daintree Rainforest.
Linda says Queensland doesn't have to be an expensive holiday.
"There's something to suit every family. Families can choose accommodation and meals to suit their budget. I appreciated being able to do our laundry and prepare some meals, or choose to go out to eat. Even then, it didn't have to be expensive because there's so many choices - and every one of them was tempting."

Fly direct from Christchurch to Brisbane three times daily.


If you're considering a spring rev-up, head to South Canterbury late September for inspiration.

Geraldine will host the Spring Challenge, an all-women adventure race where 600 teams of three women will raft, mountain bike, hike and orienteer in three, six and nine-hour events. Race director Nathan Fa'avae says the event began in 2007 in Hanmer Springs, with 327 women recording the biggest number of participants in any adventure race in the world at the time.
"It has grown every year as it has moved around different parts of the South Island and this year a record 1,800 women will take part," he says.
Nathan believes women are inspired by seeing others they know take on the challenge. "They see friends and family spend months preparing for the event and see a transformation and achievement, then want it themselves. Women have told me the juggle of fitting in all the training and preparation alongside everything else they do is one of the biggest challenges to overcome and one of the biggest satisfactions." Though the event offers prizes, Nathan believes they are not the motivator for the women who enter.
"Entrants focus on challenge, participation and completion. Everyone has a different challenge - some use the rafting to overcome a fear of water, some want to become proficient cyclists and others use the preparation to spend more time outdoors." Nathan says the event is in its eleventh year and while his focus is on safety aspects, he gets genuine satisfaction from seeing entrants' joy at crossing the finish line.
"My biggest satisfaction is seeing so many women enjoy courses we create in the beautiful South Island. We spend a lot of time putting together a course which challenges the competitors and showcases the scenery. When they reach the finish line, entrants do reflect on both their achievement and the scenery they passed through."




They're being described by some as "giant coffee cups" and are our latest visible commitment to sustainability. The bespoke bins are designed only for takeaway coffee cups - no food or rubbish - which we hope will soon be compactable or recyclable. In the meantime, we have started making it easier for all the coffee cups to be managed on their own, so on your next visit, please enjoy your coffee and put the emptied cup into a large brown coffee cup bin.


Three recent visitors to Christchurch Airport will soon visit again - on their way to Fiji! The three women, Miriam from Kaikoura, Kay from Christchurch and Barb from Timaru, entered the 'Win A Trip to Fiji' competition when they shopped at the airport while waiting to board flights. Barb says she has been promising her husband of 35 years a holiday in Fiji and now will deliver it. Miriam is encouraging girlfriends to go with her, to make a girls' trip to remember. Kay and her family were planning a snow holiday, but will trade snow for sand. Ten other recent airport visitors - two from Australia, two from the North Island and six South Islanders - also each won a $500 travel voucher.


More South Island tourism operators have travelled to China as part of the 'New Horizons' China mentoring programme. The operators receive financial assistance to make their offering attractive to and appropriate for Chinese visitors (e.g. translating material, websites and social media into Mandarin), then personal introductions on 'Kia Ora South' trade missions into China. Operators report up to a four-fold increase in business on the programme, with one saying "From a handful of Chinese visitors to hundreds, there's no way we could achieve this without the tutoring and tremendous support of Christchurch Airport."



NASA's aircraft known as SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, has been in Christchurch for eight weeks. Programme Manager Eddie Zavala says "It's hard to beat the quality of the science data we obtain while observing from New Zealand." SOFIA is a Boeing 747SP jetliner modified to carry a 100-inch diameter telescope and made 24 overnight observation flights from Christchurch Airport on this visit. 



Get ready for two new eateries to open at Spitfire Square at Christchurch Airport. The well-known restaurant and bar Lone Star has a new position, complete with enclosed bar/patio area and gas fire, near the Spitfire. Tai Chi is an authentic Chinese restaurant, with spacious in-house dining and banquet areas, or order takeaways on your way home from the airport. 


As SH1's rebuild between Blenheim and Kaikoura progresses, there's been a lot of concern about seals in the area. The good news is the seal population and seal community is fine.

DoC's Community Ranger and Iwi Advisor, Brett Cowan, says there have been changes for seals and the seabed since the November 2016 earthquake.
"A totally new landscape has emerged. From a marine and ecology perspective, there's a lot of new opportunities to use the earthquake and uplift of the seabed and landscape to create educational tools/programmes for school children, university students and scientists," he says.
Point Kean Seal Colony is one of three colonies in the Kaikoura district. Naturally, visitors want to get up close and personal with seals to take photos, but Brett urges visitors to stay 10 metres from the seals because they can become aggressive to protect their young or nesting area.
"Post-earthquake with rocks and high tide now much further out for the seals, there may be fewer seals around the carpark area. If you can't see them on the left side of the carpark, walk on top of the seabed (rocks) toward the outer right-hand side of Point Kean to see a more active colony that has emerged post-earthquake.
"That's where the young, fit male seals are fighting for territory in a new 'hang-out'. It's definitely worth the walk to see them, but do keep your distance."
Pre-earthquake Ohau Point was home to about 6,000 seals. Many have walked to the waterfall to see seal pups playing amongst the water and rocks at the Ohau Point Seal Colony.
"Good news post-earthquake is that the waterfall is still intact and seals are still around in the area. The pool at the base of the waterfall is shallower than before, but once the rebuild is completed, a pool and stream will be deepened and we anticipate seal pups will return."


The door has finally opened at a Marlborough vineyard well known for decades of exporting award-winning wine.

Jackson Estate's expertise has long been recognised, but now its visibility is being raised through the opening of a Cellar Door a few weeks ago.
Cellar Door manager Michelle Osgood says locals, family and friends have been keen to see its "collision architecture" - a modern state of the art winemaking operation behind an 1850s settler hut frontage.
"We are delighted by their interest and response," she says. "What they see on the outside is different to what they find inside and seeing people's faces as they come inside has been magical. I hope we never lose that."
The Cellar Door further underlines the reputation the vineyard has of being modern pioneers, a Kiwi-owned and family run business which handcrafts boutique Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.
Only 40,000 cases of wine are made each year and 95% of them are exported to Britain, but now the Cellar Door is open, locals can enjoy the hospitality and buy the wine onsite. Michelle says though the new venture will grow the brand in New Zealand, it's not just about wine.
"It's a way to show people who we are and what we are about. It's about Marlborough - our land and our climate.
We want people to build a relationship with the company, not just the wine, and we have some big ideas for how to make that happen."


Looking for spring garden inspiration? Then head to Marlborough early November to get it from a real expert.

Fergus Garrett, head gardener at world-famous Sussex garden Great Dixter, will be the special guest at Nelmac Garden Marlborough and gardeners all over the country are keen to learn from him.
"Innovation, originality, verve, ebullience, abundance, joy, an infectious enthusiasm and a wild energy…" are some of the words used to describe the gardener and his work… while he says "The most important tools a gardener has are eyes."
His own eyes are usually focussed on Great Dixter. He says "This is not a fluffy cottage garden. It's a place where we've always been expressive. I love the quirkiness of big plants and big veg, the sense of the countryside being let in… we make rules, we break them, we experiment all the time."
Carolyn Ferraby, longstanding Garden Marlborough committee member has heard Fergus Garrett speak at several international events and says "Fergus is always the star of the show. His knowledge and passion are contagious, extremely entertaining, we are so lucky to have him here this year. Not only is Fergus one of the garden world's foremost plantsmen, but his knowledge and passion are contagious, and he's extremely entertaining. He's unquestionably the strongest international guest speaker we've ever brought here." Influential garden blogger Frogend Dweller simply says "If you get a chance to hear Fergus Garrett speak, grab it. You won't regret it."
November 9 to 12


Seeing stars will be top priority in mid-October, when the third international Starlight Festival takes place.

The Starlight Festival highlights and celebrates the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, which has the mission of encouraging and protecting dark skies free of light pollution in the Mackenzie, as well as promoting star gazing and astro-tourism.
Professor John Hearnshaw is chair of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve Board and Emeritus Professor of Astronomy at University of Canterbury. He says the Starlight Festival is held alternate years for both locals and international tourists.
"Astro-tourism in the Mackenzie at Tekapo and Aoraki/Mt Cook is now one of New Zealand's biggest tourist attractions," he says. "About 200,000 people travel to Tekapo every year to see the stars and many of them are from Asia and Europe.
"The festival will offer many different events from lectures and workshops, to exhibitions, videos, documentaries and planetarium shows… and of course stargazing! We are also working on a musical concert with a starlight theme."
Three world-class speakers will lead sessions at the festival, including Dr Natalie Batalha, a NASA space scientist who was in 2017 named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people on the planet. She will also tour New Zealand giving talks on space exploration and the search for extraterrestrial life. 


The fascination Chinese visitors have with the South Island is encouraging more Kiwis to learn to speak Chinese in response.

New Zealand Chinese Language Week (NZCLW), October 16-22, is the first initiative of its kind in any Western country and highlights a rapidly strengthening relationship between New Zealand and China.
Project Manager Sylvie Poupard-Gould says it's a Kiwi-driven initiative to increase Chinese language learning in New Zealand and has many enthusiasts.
"The idea is to bridge the cultural and linguistic knowledge gap between the two countries through fun and practical initiatives to help Kiwis learn Chinese," she says. "China is now our largest trading partner, as well as the source of tourism and international students, so it makes sense to strengthen the ties and understanding. NZCLW is not just for school children - we have businesses, government organisations, libraries and individuals taking part too.
"One of our supporters is Sir Richard Taylor of Weta Workshop, who says his greatest regret in business is not having the skills to speak the Chinese language. Other business leaders agree with that sentiment, which is why several of them partner with us for the week." Activities for children, Tai Chi classes, culture classes, Chinese immersion days, a film festival and lapel badges highlighting everyday phrases have been on offer in the past, with more and new events planned this year. 


The biggest rugby league event ever in New Zealand will see world class players and their fans in Christchurch in November.

Christchurch Stadium will host two much-anticipated matches - New Zealand vs Scotland and a quarter-final two weeks later.
On Saturday November 4, the New Zealand Kiwis will tackle Scotland, both teams conscious of their thrilling 18-all draw at the 2016 Four Nations tournament and both wanting a different result.
The Rugby League World Cup won't return to New Zealand for at least another 12 years, so tickets are in demand.


Whitebait is a staple food group on the West Coast, with locals eating it almost daily in the season. Come the annual Whitebait Festival in October, West Coasters proudly and generously share their treasured small white fish with visitors.
Eyvonne Diskin is a fourth generation West Coaster. She grew up fishing for whitebait with her mother and her grandfather and still fishes from his special "posie" (position).
"In the season, I like to fish every tide," she says. "When I get home, I get the frypan hot, bag the whitebait up in one-pound lots for the freezer and immediately fry the rest. You can't beat very fresh whitebait - I just love it.
"In the season, we'll eat it four times a week. Our favourite meal is whitebait patties, chips and eggs, but over summer we'll cook up frozen whitebait into patties with salad and new potatoes.
"I always cook a pound at a time and put any leftover patties in the fridge so I can snack on them. I eat them hot or cold, on their own or in a sandwich… and always with a little mint sauce."
During the Whitebait Festival, Eyvonne sets up a stall outside her gift shop and last year cooked and sold 25 pounds of whitebait in 40 minutes.
"We had five frypans going at once," she laughs. "There were people who had no idea what whitebait is, but after they ate one patty they lined up for one or two more."
Eyvonne can't understand people not liking whitebait, though she admits a couple of her nine grandchildren prefer to fish for it than eat it.
"My father couldn't eat fried food, so he cooked it differently," she says. "He'd put a pound of whitebait in a pot with pepper and salt, a knob of butter and half a cup of milk. It cooked through and looked very white.
"Not for me. I make patties, a lot of patties. The only alternative is when I make bread cases in muffin tins and put whitebait into them in a mornay sauce with parsley.
"I know people who roll the whitebait in flour and put them in a pan to cook separately, but I can't be bothered with that."
Eyvonne has a tried and true recipe, which she can recite and is happy to share (see inset recipe below).
There are debates over whether flour has a place in a whitebait patty. Eyvonne says a little is necessary to hold the patty together, but Alicia Urlich, a former chef often called on to make whitebait patties for West Coast events, disagrees.
She says her recipe is simple, always gets compliments… and has no flour.
"I use four free range eggs to a kilogram of genuine Haast whitebait. The patties should be cooked on a hotplate in Westgold butter and served on white Blanchfields Bakery bread, which has been buttered with whipped butter (Westgold butter slightly softened and whipped). I like to put a dash of F. Whitlock & Sons mint sauce on all four corners of the bread, with a spritz of lemon, sprinkle of salt, and pepper and parsley. No flour or egg white because it takes the taste of the whitebait away. The whitebait should be the hero."
Flour aside, both whitebait cooks agree whitebait patties should be eaten as often as possible… with pepper, salt, lemon and mint sauce.

Eyvonne's Whitebait Patty Recipe
Whisk three or four eggs with salt and pepper to taste.
Add a small dessert spoon of flour and the same amount of self-raising flour.
Gently stir in 1 pound (half kilogram) of whitebait.
Cook spoonfuls in oil in a hot pan.
Eat between two slices of buttered white bread, with a little lemon juice and mint sauce. 



September 8 - 23

Disco Diva, gangster boyfriend and lots of singing nuns! Sister Act is the feel-good Broadway musical comedy smash based on the Whoopi Goldberg film, with outrageous dancing and joyous gospel music. Live on stage in Christchurch for the first time.
September 22-25

Blossom-lined streets and orchards in full bloom herald the arrival of spring in the Central Otago town of Alexandra. The annual Alexandra Blossom Festival includes a Grand Procession of floats and Float Princesses, a Mardi Gras, Party in the Park and garden tours, plus the crowd favourite of Friday night's Race Around the Clock.
October 13-23

Celebrate New Zealand's most important early 'harbour city' and Otago Harbour heritage plus the vision for the future. Events on both sides of the harbour and in the central city - from Taiaroa Head Royal Albatross Centre, to buildings not normally open to the public and the Port Otago Open Day.
October 15

An amazing and much talked about event through Christchurch's CBD. You'll run, walk and crawl through the changing central city - plus there will be obstacles to challenge you. You'll recognise some of them, but others are special only to this event.
October 20-22

This fishing competition for adults and children is run over two lakes, Te Anau and Manapouri, as well as the Upper Waiau river. Teams and individuals compete for the largest fish and spot prizes based on 'mystery' catch factors. Plus there's a new boat to be won!
November 4

Celebrate the diversity of cider at the second New Zealand Cider Festival. Sample varieties from all over the country in a relaxed and friendly festival environment, with gourmet dining and great entertainment - all in the region where most New Zealand ciders are made.
November 11-18

Excitement is building and planning is well underway for Christchurch's hottest week of the year - and the country's biggest and most exciting spring festival. There's something for everyone with racing, agriculture, fashion, family fun and entertainment on offer across three venues. Tickets are on sale now.