Christchurch's newest attraction is bringing food hall culture to the inner city

Christchurch is celebrating the arrival of another landmark tourism experience with the launch of a huge new indoor food market in the city centre, packing more great food and drinks options per sq metre than anywhere else in the city.

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Riverside Market will open in Christchurch later this month. Image by Riverside Market

Ever since the devastating earthquake rocked Christchurch on New Zealand's South Island in February 2011, the city has taken giant leaps in rebuilding and developing new and revitalising old, experiences for tourists. The city centre though has struggled though to retain visitors after office hours but there's hope that a new attraction will revitalise its fortunes. Scheduled to open next week on the site of the former Re:Start Container Mall, Riverside Market is bringing food-hall culture to Christchurch's CBD. It's the first of its kind in the city and promises to be a celebration of New Zealand culture and cuisine. 

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Overlooking the Avon River, the 3500 sq metre space will sell local fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood, baked goods, potted plants and coffee from over 40 fresh produce stalls and 30 independent food outlets. In summer you might see strawberries and in winter you might see turnips as small, artisan food producers aim to keep things as local and as seasonal as possible in an effort to reduce carbon footprint. Much-loved eateries like The Butcher's Mistress and Little Fish Co will have outposts there, while upstairs visitors can sink a beer at the Kaiser Brothers Brewery or EightGrains.

The market is also committed to being as zero-waste as possible. "One of the challenges for businesses in New Zealand is that not all commercial composters can take food packaging labelled as ‘compostable’ or ‘biodegradable’ so often these products have to go to landfill. However, the Riverside Market has permission to send these products to be commercially composted, provided that all food vendors use only the products specified, and that the waste is hand-sorted which will ensure that only those products are diverted to composting," a Riverside spokesperson told Lonely Planet."

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Rendering of Riverside Market's boutique shopping area. Image by Riverside Market

The Market will work with skilled experts to hand-sort waste for compostable systems as well as divert recycling and reusable streams so that it all goes to the right place. However, the zero waste journey does not stop at diverting waste – best practice is to stop it in the first place and Riverside will feature shops selling reusable solutions to disposable products such as coffee cups, takeaway containers and veggie bags, that can then be used when shopping at the market, and for life.

Alongside the market is Riverside Lanes, which is described as a "destination boutique shopping experience" with over 14 retail boutiques and a formal dining area that incorporates five rooftop restaurants with views over Christchurch. 

"Riverside Market has committed to supporting small businesses, community and the environment by reducing carbon footprint and minimising packaging and waste, with space for community and festivals," says Paul Carberry, founder of New Zealand travel specialist New Zealand In Depth. "There are also plans to incorporate a cooking school to learn how to take local fresh produce and turn it into classic New Zealand cuisine."

Riverside Market will open year-round, seven days a week from 17 September.