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port hills tarn guide

==the cj way++

The CJ way Guide to the Port Hills tarn


A small tarn in the Port Hills looking over the Christchurch city


2 minutes from parking



Best time to visit: sunrise or sunset

Jandals/sandals suitable


  • Coordinates of the tarn: -43.602009, 172.657853

  • Park on the side of the road right near the tarn. There’s not really designated parking but enough room to get your car off the road. You walk down through the shrub and connect to the biking trail (goes right past the side of the tarn).

 best time to visit? 

  • A sunrise or sunset with some nice high cloud for reflection in the tarn. You can check the high cloud forecast here!

  • You will also want to time your visit so there is minimal wind! 

  • During the Winter months, the sunrise and sunset will be closer to the direction you are shooting, but if you’re lucky you can time it for a reverse sunrise/sunset during Summer.

 cj travel tips 

  • You can pair this with a trip to Witch Hill which is less than 3km further down the road. We waited to see which way the best clouds were and then chose where to shoot based on that!

  • Be prepared to walk through some thigh-high grass/scrub as it can be quite overgrown here.

  • If you have a self-contained camper-van, Christchurch has really good bylaws for freedom camping; allowing you to stay in almost any public car park for up to two consecutive nights (click here for more detail). You can sleep in the Port Hills so you're ready to go for sunrise!

 cj photography tips 

  • Shooting close to the tarn will make it appear much larger (and you can get more reflection in), however you cut off more of the city and the rolling hills below. Personal preference is best here, we shot based on where the clouds were!

  • Make sure you twist your polarising filter to ensure you get the effect you want! While we usually use our polarising filter to cut out the glare from the water, in this instance we wanted to show as much detail in the reflection as possible so the polarising filter needed to be set to where it normally shows glare.

 what we found useful to pack 

​In addition to the usuals (camera gear, suitable clothing, water and food, first aid, etc. we found the following items useful here:

  • N/A

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