Christchurch Airport Spotting Guide

Our newest member Patrick from Germany lived a couple of month in New Zealand and presents you a new guide from Christchurch with 13 different photo positions. CHC is the second biggest airport in NZ behind Aukland and welcomed 5.5 Mio passengers in 2012. So if you going to visit this area, don’t forget to make a stop at this interesting airport.Christchurch is the second biggest airport in New Zealand and welcomed 5,5 Mio. passengers in 2012. The city is the gateway to the South Island of New Zealand. That’s why Christchurch has a lot of national and a couple of International flights. Especially flights from and to Australia are very popular. Air New Zealand, Jetstar, Virgin Australia, Emirates and Qantas are serving the larger cities at the eastcoast, seasonally Air New Zealand also Perth at the Westcoast. Other international destinationas are Emirates to Dubai via Sydney and Bangkok, Singapore Airlines to Singapore, Fidji Airways to Nadi and Air New Zealand to: Nadi, Port Villa, Tokyo, Rarotonga, Osaka, Nagoya, Naha . Among the many Air New Zealand and Air New Zealand Link flights to many desitinations all over New Zealand, Air Cathams flys to the Catham Islands with their Convair 580’s once a week.

There are also some sheduled freight flights to Christchurch, Qantas Freight on the routing SYD-AKL-CHC-SYD (shown on the homepage), some domestic flights by Airwork NZ (B733F and/or Metroliner and/or F-27F in the late evening weekdays) and Air Freight NZ (Convair 580/5800 often in daystop depature in the late evening hours). During the New Zealand summer there are also the Antarctic planes operating out of the military apron. The usual planes are: USAF with C-17A and LC-130H, FAA Challanger N86, for the Italian program Safair L-100-30, RNZAF C-130H and B752 and one of the Skytrader A319’s.

Written by Patrick Weis / Visited August2012-Januar2013

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Airline Variety
Photo Locations
Airport Informations    Runways 02/20 11/29 02/20
3.288 m (10.785 ft) 1.741 m (5.712 ft) 515 m (1.690 ft)
Asphalt – primary Asphalt – secondary Grass – Aeroclub
Terminals Terminal Aeroclub  Garden City Helicopters
Alle national and International Flights All light planes and sometimes national Buisnessjets and a few Helicopter operators  Ambulance Helicopter flights and flight Training
Spotting Informations  Ladder sometimes 1-2 steps necessary depends how tall you are
Car recommended as the afthernoon locations are far away from the terminal
Restrooms Terminal, Aeroclub or Mc Donald’s
Drinks/Food Mc Donald’s near the terminal, Some restaurants in the Terminal, Aeroclub only dirnks in cans
Hotels a few Hotels and Motels near the airport
Season we suggest September/Oktober – April as this is the high season for the long haul services, as there are additional flights during the New Zealand summertimetable.
Runway Usage  02/20 – Asphalt
mainly in use for arrivals from both directions. Heavy planes (larger than A320/B737) only depart here in both directions
11/29 only 29 in use (up to A320/737) if there are to heavy crosswinds for 02/20
02/20 – Grass
small probs only

Spot #1 – Fire Station – 02 Arrivals&Departures
WHERE This spot is located in a corner right next to the airports fire Station at Grays/Avonhead Rd. You can park your car right next to the street here. Its a long walk from the terminal to this spot! You can easily spot above the fence here as the fence is very low. Be instructed that there is often heat haze on the runway.
WHAT You can see all larger aircraft taxiing past you to runway 02, and all action on runway 02
TIME Best light conditions from sunrise to 12/1 p.m.
MISC. There are only rubbish bins there and no shaddow. Take the rest with you. Best is you can relax in the car.
FOCAL LENGTH 10-300 mm (400 mm for Beech 1900D and smaller on the runway)
Spot #2 – Ryans Rd – 02 Arrivals
WHERE From the airport use highway 1 and turn right into Ryan Rd and contiune until you see the approach. Park on the grass on the side of the road and spot the inbound planes.
WHAT This spot is good for arrivals on runway 02 if there is too much heat haze on Spot 1
TIME Light conditions are prefect until 12/1 p.m.
MISC. There is nothing but some shaddow from trees on the side of the road
FOCAL LENGTH 100-400 mm

Spot #3 – Pound Road – 02 afternoon Arrivals&Departures, Line up
WHERE If the sun turns around at spot #2 just continue on the Ryan Rd and then turn right into the Pound Rd.
There is a low fence like on Spot #1 but on some corners you need a onestep ladder or you spot through the gate a bit further down the road. You can park the car right next to the street on the grass.
WHAT This is the best spot for touchdown and lineup for the runway 02 in the afternoon. Also sometimes the fire trainer Fokker F-27 is parked at this spot.
TIME Light conditions are good from 1 p.m. till sunset
MISC. There is nothing here than the spot here.
FOCAL LENGTH 70-400 mm

Spot #4 – 29 depature& unroll afternoon
WHERE Continue on the Pound Rd until it turns left. Park your car next to the street on the grass. Don’t park after the traffic bar!
WHAT This spot is great if they take off on runway 29 and are heavy loaded. Otherwise the planes are very high. Also a good spot if they unroll for the taxiway. Normally not used for heavy aircrafts like the Emirates B777-300er as they can’t use the taxiway!
TIME Good spot from 3 p.m.
MISC. There is some shadow on the other side of the road. Bring the stuff with you!
FOCAL LENGTH 18-200 mm
Spot #5 – 29 depature& unroll morning
WHERE Once again continue on Pound Rd to the other side of RWY 11/29. Park your car next to the street on the grass. Don’t park afther the traffic bar!
WHAT All departures and arrivals on ruwnay 11. You can also take face to face shots here. Also there are low flying helicopters from the nearby hangars.
TIME Good spot in the morning until early afternoon.
MISC. There is some shadow on the other side of the road. For facilities you can use the nearby Aeroclub
18-200 mm
Spot #6 – Aeroclub Terrance
WHERE To reach the Aeroclub follow the Pound Rd until you see Helipro, turn right into the street and you will see the Aeroclub. Park your car in front on the large carpark. Go inside the building go up the stairs past the toilets and go into the big cafeteria and you will see the terrance.
WHAT This Place is good for 02 and 20 on the grass and asphalt runways depatures and arrivals in the afthernoon and 29 depatures in the morning hours. Also you can take shots of the parked plane at the Aeroclub.
TIME Light conditions are prefect from good from 1 p.m. for 02/20 and 29 depatures from sunrise till 2 p.m
MISC. There is everything you need except food. You can buy drinks at the machine at the stairs downstairs.
FOCAL LENGTH 18-400 mm
Spot #7 – Jessons Rd – 20 arrivals & depatures
WHERE Follow the Pounds Rd from the Aeroclub until you see the Jessons Rd sign on the right hand site turn into the street and follow it until you see the airport fence. Park your car on the grass on the side.
WHAT This place is good for 20 arrivals and depatures. Depends on the pilot they are touching down in front of you. The bad thing on this spot is that you hear the planes very late.
TIME Light conditions are good from 1 pm until sunset
MISC. The are rubbish bins and some trees for shadow.
FOCAL LENGTH 50-200 mm
Spot #8 – 20 arrival afternoon
WHERE This place is next to the bussy McLeans Island Rd. Park on the grass next to the street and not on the cycle path!
WHAT From this spot you can only spot planes on arrival for rw 20 in the air in the afternoon. Here you can see the planes earlier then on point 7.
TIME Light conditions are good from 1 pm until sunset
MISC. There are only trees for shadows
FOCAL LENGTH 70-300 mm
Spot #9 – 20 arrival morning
WHERE This spot is located at the end of Harewood Rd easily reached from the terminals. There you can park your car next to the other cars. Then walk up to the low gate there
WHAT This place is good for 20 arrivals in the morning hours with some nice mountain scenery if the mountains are clear of clouds
TIME Light conditions are prefect from sunrise till 12 a.m.
MISC. There is nothing
FOCAL LENGTH 100-400 mm
Spot #10 – Military apron Wairakei Rd and NZ Post
WHERE For this spot park your car at the Peter Leeming Rd or the airport carpark and walk up to the Wairakei Rd. Also you can walk there from the terminal
WHAT In the Wairakei Rd you can take picture of some military aircraft parked on the apron. Also you can walk further up to the NZ Post there you can also shoot through the fence the parked aircraft on the apron. Also you can take pictures until 2 p.m. of planes taxiing to or from the runway in an verry close angle. As this is a private ground so leave this spot if someones tell you to leave. But there is not a problem as long as you take your pics and go again.
TIME Light conditions are prefect from sunrise till sunset depends on the angle.
MISC. Facilities only in the terminal
FOCAL LENGTH 10-200 mm

The Post:

Spot #11 – military apron terminal site
WHERE You can also park your car in the Peter Leeming Rd or at the airport carpark (15 min free) if you’re here by car.
WHAT On this spot you can take pictures of the military planes parked on the apron from another angles. Also you can take a picture with the sun in the back when Emirates is leaving.
TIME Light conditions are prefect from sunrise till sunset depends on the parking position
MISC. You find everything you need in the Terminal
FOCAL LENGTH 18-200 mm
 Spot #12 – 29 arrivals morning
WHERE For this spot park you car in the Ivan Jamieson Pl on the site of the street and walk for the right angle you like to have
WHAT This place is good for aircraft arriving on runway 29 in the morning/early afternoon.
TIME Light conditions are good from Sunrise till 2 p.m.
MISC. Nothing here
FOCAL LENGTH 70-300 mm
 Spot #13 – Avonhead Rd – 29 arrivals&depatures
WHERE Use the direction for spot #1  but for this spot park your car on the site of the Avonhead directly at the fence to get the approaches.
WHAT There you can take pictures of planes lining up for 29 depature or on touchdown for 29 arrival.
TIME Light conditions are prefect from 3 p.m. until sunset
MISC. There are some rubbish bins along the fence
FOCAL LENGTH 70-200 mm

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8 thoughts on “Christchurch Airport Spotting Guide

  1. Josh

    you can’t use spot 13 or for they have been closed of but you can go though a little gate and you can see 29 arrivals

  2. LamboAston

    The only heavy flights are the China Southern B788, the NZ 763 to Perth on some days, the EK 77W, the SQ 77E and charter flights and diversions

  3. Yusef

    Cobham Intermediate is also good to go plane spotting.
    If you go to the field which is what you will see after going through the classes.
    It is a good location for 29 arrivals as they fly very low and you have a good view of the aircraft which means you can take several shots of each aircraft.

    1. PatrickPatrick Post author

      Deat Henry,

      these shots were taken during my Work and Travel year in Nz from August 2012-January 2013 during the time I lived in CHC.
      I think there is still no regularly 777-300er flight from ANZ into CHC just Emirates. The All Black B777-300er was a special
      Charter when I was there. The 777-200er of ANZ are more often in CHC. Just Check: for the international Flights and Types. That was the plan I used most of the time for my spotting.


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