Church of the Good Shepherd and Lake Tekapo. © Swiss Media Vision

The Church of the Good Shepherd: the most photographed church with the best views

View the map


In case you hadn’t noticed (stop looking at Facebook!), New Zealand owes much to its sheep farmers. Especially in the South Island, where the high country is ideal for these little jersey producers.

The Church of the Good Shepherd honours those early musterers and paddock merchants who settled this particularly famous and unforgiving sheep-country region.

Is this New Zealand’s most photographed church? Most likely. But don’t go all ‘I’m an off the beaten track kinda guy’ on us, or you’ll miss out on something truly spectacular. The building alone — tiny, iconic — is a must see: its setting is unparalleled. The view through the altar window as it frames the Southern Alps is profoundly moving and, in this happy snappy age, one you’ll need to commit to memory. There is no photography permitted inside the church.

The surrounding area is known as the Mackenzie Country, and it’s real pioneering territory.

The church, completed in 1935, was built as a memorial to those hardy souls who settled and made a life here and, as befits their carving a life from the land around them, the church is constructed solely from local materials.

The stones were gathered from within an 8km radius and left in their natural condition. Bushes on the site were left undisturbed: the building couldn’t be more ‘of’ the landscape than that.
Nearby is a bronze sculpture of Haig, a New Zealand collie sheepdog. These guys did as much to turn the land to awesome grazing territory as their owners, and he probably gets as many snaps as the church. Woof!

Overall, this is a quiet, reflective place. But it’s also damnably popular, so you might want to arrive outside regular visiting hours if you want to grab a moment. You should. It’s life-changing.

Be the first to comment on this page. You cannot post comments until you have logged in. Please log in or register if you don't have an account.

More stories like this

Find out more

Things to do

Larnach Castle: a vision of past and present

If you missed Larnach Castle on your trip out to wing it with the albatrosses, you must have been on Facebook. It stands proud and bold on the highest point of the entire Otago Peninsula. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Things to do

Must-Do's Hawke's Bay: art deco, wine and the largest gannet colony in the world

Traverse beautiful coastline, riverbeds, rolling pastures and native bush before taking in panoramic views and experiencing the exhilarating sight and sound of 20,000 gannets. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Things to do

Must-Do's Auckland: the show never stops

Summit the city's most iconic volcano, as well as its youngest and largest. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Things to do

Must-Do's Queenstown: New Zealand's adventure capital

Queenstown Hill, just out of town, is more than worth a peek, and you can make its peak in an hour if you get a wriggle on, and check out the series of information panels showcasing the past, present and predicted future of this stunning part of the world. Read the story . . .