10 Amazing Places in Christchurch to See the Sunrise

10 Amazing Places in Christchurch to See the Sunrise

The sunrises in New Zealand can be breathtaking if you know where to watch them. Sure, setting your alarm clock early can seem like a pain, but sunrise at the places on our list are worth it, we promise you!

1. New Brighton Pier – Christchurch

New Brighton Pier – Christchurch
Image from Unsplash by Vivian Wong

New Brighton Pier is the longest pier in Australasia, as it spans 300 meters into the ocean. But aside from that, it’s a great place to see New Zealand’s spectacular sunrises! 

We recommend going down to the beach in the early morning to experience the glimmer of the pier’s lights. When visiting the area, you’ll also see many people exercising, walking along, or waiting for the sun to come up.

Make sure to visit the pier when it is low tide to get a chance to see the reflection of the dock in the water. Then, if you have your phone with you, take a timelapse video. 

Make sure your phone is fully charged or you bring your power bank with you, though. You wouldn’t want to run out of juice during the magical moment when the colors change! 

After watching the sunrise, you can visit the modern library at the very start of the pier, by the way. The library opens at 9:00 AM on weekdays and 10:00 AM on weekends.

There are bars and cafes situated around the area as well. After sunrise, you can enjoy a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.

2. Shag Rock/ Rapanui Rock 

Shag Rock Rapanui Rock
Image from Wikimedia

Rapanui Rock is one of the famous landmarks of the South Island. It was once a sea stack sitting at the source of the Avon Heathcote Estuary.

The rock pillar was eight meters high before the February 2011 earthquake. It is now reduced to about half of that height.

The reduction of its height led kiwis to refer to it as a “Shag Pile”. It is now known as the Shag Rock. 

If you’re feeling a bit down, we recommend experiencing the sunrise here. This sea stack is a testament to Christchurch’s resiliency. 

It’s a perfect illustration that no matter how hard life knocks you down, you can still be beautiful; different but even stronger.

The rock looks the best when viewed from the Sumner Beachside, so make sure to view it from there. 

3. Hoon Hay Scenic Reserve 

Hoon Hay Scenic Reserve
Image from Away With CJ

We recommend this area if you want to set up a romantic date or want some alone time to reflect, as it’s relatively quiet. 

In addition, we recommend viewing the sunrise over the Lyttelton Port side, as it looks much better with views that stretch as far as the Southern Alps. 

A cloudy day would also improve the experience, making the view even more incredible! It is also only 10 minutes from your car’s parking, so you won’t need to prepare for a trek, unlike in other spots. 

4. Cashmere Hill Lookout

Cashmere Hill Lookout
Image from Unsplash by Molly Spink

Cashmere is one of the best places to experience the Christchurch sunrise. You can enjoy the sunrise and a fantastic panoramic view of the Lyttelton Harbour, Southern Alps, and Banks Peninsula.

Unlike Hoon Hay, which is relatively unknown to most people, this area is popular among picnickers, dog walkers, and hikers. In addition, this area is very near the central business district and is only 10 minutes from the car park.

You can perch on the grassy hill of Cashmere and just watch the sky change colors.  There are several viewing points on the hill where you can stay, have a picnic, and enjoy a cuppa. 

This area is easy to get to via public transport or car. You can also choose to just trek up to the viewing areas. We also recommend bringing a jacket, especially during winter, because of how chilly it can get here.

5. Port Hills

Port Hills
Image from Wikipedia

If you like a bit of a challenge, we recommend hiking up the picturesque Port Hills and having a viewing experience of the sunrise like no other. But, of course, you can also explore this spot by bike or car. 

Port Hills has it all, from rocky outcrops to bushy gullies. All areas have magnificent views, trust us. 

The hills are eroded remnants of the Lyttelton volcano. They run from Godley Head to Lyttelton Harbour and Gebbies Pass. 

This area provides panoramic views from Lyttelton Harbour to the Southern Alps. You can also see the whole city of Christchurch up on the hills.

So yes, it’s great to picnic here with a beautiful scenic skyline view. Fair warning, it’s quite windy here. 

6. Gibraltar Rock

Gibraltar Rock
Image from Away With CJ

This place is Canterbury’s smallest crag, which is a rugged or steep cliff or rock face. So, you’ll be able to see a lot of rock climbers here. 

Like the previous entries, it is fairly accessible as it is only ten minutes away from the access point on foot. Hopefully, you’ll also be able to catch the native bellbirds and pigeons that live around the area.

The height of Gibraltar Rock provides you with a fantastic view of the city of Christchurch and the Canterbury plains. In addition, this area is perfect for experiencing the changing colors of the sky during sunrise.

We recommend wearing extra layers of clothing or even a windproof jacket as it gets really cold here, and the wind makes it feel even chillier. 

And, if parking your car in the designated parking space, take care when accessing the track, as the road can sometimes be dangerously windy.

7. Godley Head Track

Godley Head Track
Image from Unsplash by Koon Chakhatrakan

The Godley Head Track offers amazing views during sunrise. Its exposed headland sits on top of a cliff 120 metres high. 

It also provides a good view of the harbor up to the Banks Peninsula and the pristine coastline.

You can also sit on the grassy hilltop and picnic while feeling the ocean breeze. We recommend bringing extra layers of clothing or blankets as it can get cold and windy.

The entire Godley Head track consists of a loop that takes three hours to traverse and goes through the coastal areas of Mechanics, Harry’s Boulder, and Breeze Bay. For your safety, be vigilant of the bikers you will be sharing the trail with. 

Keep your eyes peeled for old caves and a massive defense battery from the Second World War. The part where the walking and biking trails meet is one of the best views of the harbor.

8. John Britten Reserve

John Britten Reserve
Image from Wallpaper Flare

John Britten Reserve is located on the borders of Port Hills and is a go-to place in Christchurch to catch an excellent sunrise. It is next to Mount Pleasant and makes it easy to view the beautiful city.

The entire track is one of the easiest in the area, so if you’re a beginner hiker, then we highly recommend this. 

Massive cloud formations can also be seen here. Imagine seeing the sunlight peeking from the clouds. 

John Britten Reserve is also an excellent place to use hang gliders, so you’ll sometimes see people gliding around.

9. Witch Hill

Witch Hill
Image from Away With CJ

Witch Hill is a war memorial that provides a fantastic view over Christchurch. You can see it on top of Rapaki rock. 

People flock to this area for its sunrises and sunsets. Witch Hill is 35 to 40 minutes away from the central business district. 

If you plan to climb With Hill, we recommend wearing sneakers or comfortable footwear to be safe, as the terrain is rocky and rough. Make sure that your shoes fit your feet perfectly to avoid difficulty in going up. 

The climb will take about 20 minutes, but it will all be worth it! You’ll also see the war memorial at the top of the Rapaki Track, so it’s great for history buffs. 

10. Mount Pleasant

Mount Pleasant
Image from Wikimedia

Mount Pleasant is also located on Port Hills. It only takes about forty minutes to trek to the peak.

At the top, you’ll get a 360-degree view over the Canterbury Plains, Kaitorete Spit, and Lyttelton Harbor. You’ll also see the historic gun emplacement from the Second World War.

This area is only 20 minutes from the central business district. We recommend wearing sneakers or rubber shoes to be safe when climbing. 

That concludes our guide on where to best see the sunrise in Christchurch. We hope that this helped you bookmark some noteworthy places for your next adventure. 

Did we miss out on any of your favorite spots? We’d love to hear from you! 

And if you’re looking for more things to do in Christchurch, make sure you don’t miss out on the following reads: