Post-earthquake update June 2011
This great place has been unaffected by the February earthquake and is fully operational.
However, if you want to make sure to get a table for dinner it is highly recommended to make a reservation. With a lot less restaurants than before the earthquake many places are completely overrun by people. No problem with seats and tables during daytime, including lunch. It is really a big space.
I love the original Speights Ale House in Dunedin, and I love the one at Tower Junction in Christchurch.
Tower Junction (where you also find the railway station where the Tranzalpine and the Transcenic start) is a shopping centre west of Hagley Park, on Blenheim Road. Not a mall but a big area with a lot of different shops and outlet stores (Kathmandu, Swanndri), and a big DIY store (Bunnings). There are also some cafés, Baker’s Delight, and a Raeward Fresh. And there is the Speights Ale House.
You might not think these are attractive surroundings for a pub and restaurant, and this was my concern at the start. But I do not care since I have been there the first time. Sure, you cannot go barhopping like in the city centre in this area but you have free and easy parking, a great indoor and outdoor area, and the nice hearty meals you already know from other alehouses. You always get great steaks, fish’n’chips, roasts, and so on. No haute cuisine but satisfying portions of the Kiwi kitchen.
If you sit in the bar area because the designated dining area is occupied you have to order the food at the bar, and carry your drinks to the table. As soon as you have learnt this lesson there should be no more difficulty to enjoy your meal ;-) I also like the big screens on which you can follow all sports events that are relevant for New Zealanders - including sheep dog trials LOL
There is also a Speights Ale House on Bealey Avenue, at the northern edge of the city centre. But I have not been there yet.