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15 Dec 2022

Planespotter’s guide to CHC

Christchurch Airport offers some amazing places to see planes come and go. Check out our guide to the best vantage points and watch the video for some insta-worthy inspiration!

Whether you’re an avid planespotter, keen photographer or looking for something fun to do with the kids, there’s a number of plane-viewing hotspots around the airport.

Plus, with over 90,000 annual flights landing or taking off every day of the year, there’s no shortage of action in the skies. From the burly Hercules and C-17s headed to the Antarctic, to our biggest visitor the Airbus A380, to a range of domestic and overseas aircraft, there’s always something new to see. Bring your camera, park near our perimeter and let your imagination hit the skies!

To find out what’s arriving or departing, check our Arrivals and departures web page. This information is updated every ten minutes by the airlines, so you can plan well ahead – or simply head over to the airport when you have the time. For additional insider tips, request to join the ‘Canterbury Plane Spotters’ group on Facebook, run by local aviation enthusiasts.

Don’t forget to hashtag your photos with #ChristchurchAirport and tag us @Christchurch_airport so we can appreciate your best snaps!

Here’s a roundup of the best planespotting vantage points at Christchurch Airport:

End of Grays Road

This is a popular spot for families and offers great protection from the wind when there’s a howling Nor’wester.

Western end of Harewood Road

This location is great in the morning from sunrise up until about 11am. There is a small rise here which offers clear views over the airfield fence.

Note – The western end of Harewood Road is currently closed to vehicle traffic, but you’re welcome to walk down to the viewpoint.

Wairakei Road

Our best spot for stunning night photography. Large wide-body aircraft taxi past at night, making it perfect for long exposures. You can also see the aircraft parked on the Antarctic Apron from here.

Note – This is a high traffic area. Please watch for vehicles and stay safe.

Outside the Novotel

The South side of the Novotel hotel is the best place to get close-up views of the planes parked on the Antarctic Apron. Ideal day or night.

Pound Road

Your best view of Runway 02 arrivals. This spot offers beautiful light from 1pm through to sunset. Explore different areas along the road to get different landing perspectives.

Aviation Drive

Aviation Drive provides a good overview of Runway 02 and Runway 20. The best lighting for photography is in the afternoon and evening, and if you position yourself right you’ll be able to capture the tower and Port Hills in the background.

Planespotting tips and safety reminders: 

  • Don’t forget to charge your camera and phone batteries, so you have enough juice to catch those great shots!
  • Please don’t cause any damage to the airfield fence. Avoid parking your car too close to it and don’t lean anything against the fence.
  • Please stick to publicly accessible areas only. Stay clear of private land and businesses.
  • Some of our local roads can be quite busy. Take care, park only in approved areas and be a safe pedestrian.
  • Never block any emergency exits such as gates and access roads.
  • Sorry – no drones or UAVs can be used near the airport. You’ll have to leave these at home.
  • Don’t feed the birds. Birds are a real hazard for aircraft and we don’t want to encourage them to the airport area.
  • Be considerate of others and share the vantage points so everyone can have a go.
  • Please be a tidy Kiwi and take your rubbish with you.