It is a truly unique and interesting way to check out some of the inner city sights of Christchurch. The restaurant is on a converted 1927 Australian tram.
You will be travelling and dining aboard a historical tram which began it' life in Melbourne as a passenger car until 1982. It was also used as a stationary dining car in Sydney in the 1980s before it went to the Sydney Tramway Museum (1995-1999) where it was converted into a restaurant car.
It arrived in Christchurch in December 1999 and started operating in January of the following year. Due to the earthquake in Christchurch in 2011, it was unable to operate for 4 years but was reopened in December 2014 and continues to give tourists and locals a unique dining experience.
The interior is a very classical 1920s style and makes you feel that you are travelling and dining in yesteryear. It can accommodate up to 36 passengers with either a 2 seat table or 4 seat table option. Bookings are necessary and this can be done online. It is fully air-conditioned/climate control which was good, as the night we were in Christchurch the outside temperature was around 2 degrees. We dined very comfortably.
The dining experience starts as soon as you board the tram with a lovely welcome drink waiting for you at your table. You can either choose a bubbly or a non-alcoholic one. A starter from the onboard chef was also waiting for us on arrival.
The menus are seasonal and as we were there in late August we had their Winter menu to decide from. The dining experience includes the starter and 3 other courses. There is 3-4 dishes for each of the courses to choose from and this includes vegetarian and gluten-free options. The Tramway Restaurant is fully licenced and you can either purchase wine by the glass or a bottle. This is separate from the ticket for the dinner and tour which was $109 per adult.
We were served by a lovely waitress who kept our glasses topped up and answered any questions we had about the passing scenery outside. The tram does several loops of inner Christchurch taking you past some of the older styled buildings that were spared or repaired from the earthquake alongside the newer more modern buildings. Christchurch is still rebuilding and a number of the inner city streets remain closed, thus making our time in Christchurch that much more special as we felt that tourism is a big part of the rebuilding process.
For entree, my husband had the Akaroa Salmon with cream cheese and pumpernickel toast whilst I had the chicken liver parfait with bread and butter pickles and toasted brioche. Even though mine was good, I did also enjoy some of my husband's salmon.
The restaurant tram operates all year round with different starting times for Winter and Summer. March to October it leaves at 7pm and November to February from 7.30pm. They recommend you arrive at least 10 minutes before boarding. The total time you are on the tram is about 2.5 hours.
It was a truly memorable dining experience for my husband and I which we thoroughly enjoyed and have recommended it to friends and family back here in Australia on our return. A fabulous culinary experience with a historical Australian twist.