Christchurch has always been a photogenic city, thanks to its charming historic architecture and breathtaking location flanked by mountains on one side and vast ocean on the other. And while the 2011 earthquakes caused widespread damage to the city, they also gave birth to new several new attractions that have become part of Christchurch’s visual identity. Here are our can’t-miss spots for getting the best shots during your visit.
1. Cardboard Cathedral
A photogenic gem that arose from the rubble of the earthquakes, architect Shigeru Ban’s triangular Cardboard Cathedral was built as a temporary replacement for the ChristChurch Cathedral, which was badly damaged in the natural disaster. Ban’s unique vision for the church—constructed using cardboard tubes, timber supports and a polycarbon roof—has since become one of the city’s architectural icons.
2. Antigua Boat Sheds
When the Antigua Boat Sheds first opened to the public more than 130 years ago, the dress code was extremely different—men wore suits and straw boater hats, while ladies rested lavish parasols atop their shoulders. These days you can get away with much more casual attire, but you’ll still feel like you’ve travelled back in time when snapping the classic green-and-white striped buildings perched along the Avon River. Take a tour in one of the flat-bottomed boats known as “punts” to get the best photo vantage point.
3. New Brighton Pier
Another treasured piece of Christchurch history, the New Brighton Pier has long been a seaside gathering spot for locals (at one time it even had a penny arcade and a nightclub). Stretching out into Pegasus Bay, it’s the biggest ocean pier in Australasia and looks particularly spectacular at sunset—so bring a tripod if you have one. While the pier itself is currently closed for repairs until 2018, you’ll still be able to get a great shot of it from the shore.
4. Christchurch Art Gallery
If you like to get a little creative with your photography, the Christchurch Art Gallery is an essential stop on your itinerary, not just for the art itself but for the reflections on the curvilinear building’s facade. The mirror-like exterior seems to almost absorb the surrounding outdoor scenery, creating a fascinating visual fusion that shifts depending on where you’re standing to take your photo.
5. Street art
There’s no shortage of street art in Christchurch, which is great, since it’s bound to earn you some Instagram love. Vibrant and colorful works can be found all throughout the city and some of the impressive murals will blow your mind—#nofilter required. Here’s a helpful map with the best sites in the city.
6. Port Hills
To really take in the beauty of Christchurch and its natural surroundings, opt for a birds-eye view atop Port Hills. For the adventurous, there are plenty of hikes that offer stunning panoramic views, or you can take the Christchurch Gondola, which will give you an uninterrupted shot of the Canterbury Plains, Southern Alps and the dramatic hills of Banks Peninsula. Port Hills is also one of the best locations in Christchurch to capture your classic sunrise or sunset photo.
7. The Christchurch Tram
Hop on the heritage Christchurch Tram for a scenic tour of the city and some of its best photo spots, including the Botanic Gardens and the Avon River. Be sure to stop off at New Regent Street, which is famous for its picture-worthy rows of colourful pastel buildings built in the Spanish Mission style. The pedestrian mall is also a great place to do a spot of shopping or grab a bite to eat, but before you get back on the tram, remember to snap a photo of it against the picturesque backdrop.
8. Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
New Zealanders don’t get their nickname, “Kiwis,” from the fuzzy brown fruit, but rather their national bird. You’re extremely unlikely to see a kiwi roaming the streets of Christchurch, but you’ll definitely get a close-up shot at the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. While you’re there, you can also acquaint yourself with lemurs, emus, gibbons and capuchin monkeys.
No matter where your adventures take you during your hotel stay in Christchurch, you’ll find plenty of photography inspiration, so remember to charge up your battery before you go—and pack an extra memory card or two!