Open Christchurch festival: Get a rare glimpse inside city's most iconic buildings

Public Trust Office. Photo: Open Christchurch
Public Trust Office. Photo: Open Christchurch
Christchurch is throwing open the doors to the public, giving rare glimpses behind the scenes of some of the city’s newest and most unusual buildings.

From the Court Theatre under construction to the Post and Telegraph building - still home to New Zealand’s only cafe running a pneumatic tube delivery system - a selection of 50 buildings in Ōtautahi will be in the centre of Open Christchurch.

The weekend-long architecture festival will be running May 3-5 in the rebuilt city.

With a variety of paid and free events over the Saturday and Sunday, these architectural spaces are giving a behind the scenes look to the public - many for the first time.

“Open Christchurch is a chance to encounter the city through architecture and designed spaces. Thanks to the generosity of our building partners, we have a wide array of buildings to explore in 2024,” says director Jessica Halliday.

“Most do not require booking - so just plan your weekend and turn up.”

There will also be a treasure hunt, says Halliday, with clues scattered around some of the city’s most recognisable icons and hidden structures.

In Cathedral Square the landmark Christ Church Cathedral will be offering a rare look inside the building work, as it enters the next phase of restoration.

After completing a three-year structural reinforcement, this might be the last time the public gets to look inside the city’s Gothic Revivalist centrepoint until work is scheduled to finish in 2027.

Four free tours are taking place, with pre-booking essential. Hard hats provided.

Christchurch Mayor Phil Maugher says it is a great opportunity for visitors and residents to see a different side of the city. In many cases for free.

“By getting behind closed doors and up close to a variety of spaces – we discover places we perhaps didn’t know existed,” he says.

By Thomas Bywater