Christchurch Botanic Gardens. © Bernard Spragg 

Loved by the locals: Christchurch

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1. Dance-O-Mat

My favourite Gap Filler, the Dance-O-Mat, is a coin-operated dance floor. Plug in your phone, insert $2 and the space whirls to life with sound and lights. Be the star of your own show or join in someone else’s party, this is community space at its best. 

Now in its fourth location, the Dance-O-Mat pops up in vacant spaces and then moves on when development rolls in. Ballerinas, belly dancers, break dancers – even Prince Charles and Camilla – have had a spin on this now-iconic space.

Have you enjoyed a boogie on the Dance-O-Mat lately? #pocketsofawesome 📷 = @endeavourphoto 🙌

A post shared by Christchurch & Canterbury NZ (@christchurchnz) on Jul 27, 2016 at 12:23am PDT

2. Margaret Mahy playground

By day, you’ll probably feel more comfortable if you have some actual kids in tow, but by night this new playground – the largest in the Southern Hemisphere – comes alive with the delightful squeals of children trapped in the bodies of adults and teenagers. 

There are lots of good reasons for this, including trampolines, slides, flying foxes, water cannons, splash pads and a barbecue area.

Named for one of New Zealand’s most iconic children’s authors, the playground is one of the first projects completed under the city’s recovery plan and will be part of the larger East Frame residential zone, which hopes to attract more residents, including families, to the central city.

Timber fort with a slide to get down. Margaret Mahy Family Playground, Christchurch

A post shared by super urban _ design details (@superurbandesign) on Oct 17, 2017 at 10:17pm PDT

3. Christchurch Tram

I know it seems naff, but it’s actually a great way to rest your feet for a bit, learn a few tidbits about the city and get your bearings.

The eclectic group of drivers, who call themselves 'trammies', are passionate about vintage trams and are never short of a yarn.

They provide a running commentary as the trams snake through the city. Hop on and off the city’s 17 stops all day for $25.

The old Tram against a new backdrop - this is Christchurch! ❤️️ 📷= @shaydennz #pocketsofawesome #christchurchnz #iloveisite

A post shared by Christchurch & Canterbury NZ (@christchurchnz) on Feb 18, 2017 at 11:24pm PST

4. Christchurch Botanic Gardens

One thing that hasn’t changed in post-quake Christchurch is the beautiful Botanic Gardens. The garden’s 21 acres are planted collections from all around the world. It all started with the planting of an English oak to commemorate the marriage of Prince Albert and Princess Alexandra in 1863. 

Whether you’re earnestly exploring New Zealand fauna or just hiding out for a few hours, the garden's an oasis of green.

Neighbouring Hagley Park, established in 1855, is said to have been an inspiration for Central Park in New York City two years later.

5. Little High Eatery

Saving the iconic facade of the building on the corner of High Street and Tuam Street was a rebuild triumph for Christchurch after so much heritage was bulldozed away. Putting the Little High Eatery into the back of this new/old complex was the second triumph. With everything from burgers to pizza, Mexican, sushi, Thai and dumplings, this high-end food court keeps everyone happy – hence it is always packed.

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