Hidden away from the bustle of the city, situated at the centre of a world-renowned site, surrounded by majestic 150-year-old trees, exotic flowers and the tranquil Avon River, ilex’s events and wedding spaces are a celebration of the nature that surrounds us. This is an oasis in the heart of Christchurch.

ilex’s spaces differ in their charms, whether you want to host drinks under a greenhouse glass ceiling, dinner by the river, a lively garden party or get down to business in the middle of winter in your own tropical hideaway.

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From lavish parties to sit-down events and bespoke corporate events, ilex offers three diverse spaces in the middle of the Botanic Gardens.

These different venues comprise two unique spaces that can each hold around 130 guests seated, as well as Cuningham and Townend House – perfect for 230 guests for a cocktail party.

ilex Café is a bustling eatery by day, serving great, honest local food from renowned chef Jonny Schwass. In the evenings this space is brought to life, transforming into multiple indoor and outdoor entertaining areas. Inside, floor to ceiling windows fill the room with light and views that overlook vast lawns and the luscious palm-filled nursery. Outdoors, guests are treated to a private courtyard surrounded by nature, with bar and food stations setting the scene for a lively garden party.

Absorbing the tranquillity of the Avon River views, the ilex Events Space also has floor to ceiling windows that invite sunbeams into every corner of the room. This stylish, versatile space and private outdoor courtyard has a sense of intimacy and exclusivity, providing guests with a one-of-a-kind Botanic Gardens experience.

Think champagne and oysters when imagining an event in the stunning heritage structure Cuningham House – which is nothing short of majestic. Built in 1923, this architectural marvel of a greenhouse features a large collection of tropical plants. At the top of an elaborate staircase, a leafy hideaway spreads across two levels boasting everything from Kentia palms to banana trees and the native nikau. Although formally known as the Winter Garden, this unmatched, elegant venue is suitable for events year-round.

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A unique collaboration of events professionals with over 40 years of combined experience, one of NZ’s best chefs – Jonny Schwass heads up the kitchen – will be cooking at your wedding or events. There’s an event planning and operations team, run by Kate Burnell, and Eloise McIntyre looks after sales and event enquiries.

Have your ceremony outside under the oaks, move into Cunningham House for canapés and cocktails, or dinner in the events space – why not party the night away in the ilex café space?

From design through to service, the team is passionate about creating unique wedding experiences with a sense of effortless elegance; a full sensory journey inspired by the vibrant backdrop.

The team at ilex makes all their food and beverages to reflect a continued appreciation of the land. They showcase produce grown and sourced locally. They want their dishes to reflect that Christchurch truly is the Garden City. There’s Akaroa salmon from just over the hill, smoked on Botanic Gardens Oak – sourced from pruned branches – as well as fresh herbs and edible flowers from the Gardens; suffice to say, it’s all pretty special.

PaletteJoshua Brosnahan