The 10 Most Beautiful Churches in Auckland, New Zealand
Inside Auckland's St Patrick's Cathedral | © Jason Pratt / Flickr
Among Auckland’s many architectural marvels you’ll find an array of incredibly beautiful churches. Here are some of the lovely places of worship you should look out for while exploring this remarkable New Zealand city.
Cathedral of St Patrick & St Joseph
The Cathedral of St Patrick & St Joseph, better known as St Patrick’s Cathedral, has been the main cathedral for the Catholic Bishop of Auckland since the region established its diocese in 1848. St Patrick’s is founded on the original grounds given by the British Crown to Jean Baptiste Pompallier (New Zealand’s first Catholic Bishop) in 1841. From the 1880s to the early 1900s the structure received several extensions that transformed it from a small chapel to a modest church and finally into a structure worthy of its Catholic cathedral status.
St Paul's Church
St Paul’s is a historically important Anglican church that dominates the city centre’s Symonds Street-Wellesley Street intersection. Among with being the oldest congregation in Auckland city, the church is noteworthy in that its unfinished Gothic Revival facade has been a prominent local landmark for more than a century. St Paul’s is known as the ‘Mother Church’ of Auckland because its original church was the first to be built in the city – the current structure is actually St Paul’s third iteration.
St Andrews First Presbyterian Church
As its name suggests, St Andrews First Presbyterian Church was the first place of worship of its denomination to be constructed in Auckland; it is also the oldest church building in the central city. At the time it was built, its design completely bucked normal architectural trends: unlike the ornate Gothic structures of the period, St Andrew’s consisted of a simple stone nave that was completed in 1848. A prominent portico and tower were later added to the structure in 1882 – the tower itself is notable for its classical Ionic, Doric and Corinthian columns.
The present St Matthew’s, better known by locals as St Matthew-in-the-City, is the third Anglican church to be erected on its downtown Auckland site. The historic stone building, which was completed in 1905, is noted for its Gothic Revival aesthetics, magnificent stone interior and remarkable vaulted ceilings. St Matthew’s hosts several services throughout the week and has become quite well-known for its music – the church has its own choir and chamber orchestra.
Auckland Baptist Tabernacle
The Auckland Baptist Tabernacle sits right at the edge of Auckland’s central business district, near the corner of Queen Street and Karangahape Road (K’rd to locals). The church’s foundation stone was laid on Easter Monday of 1884 and the Tabernacle was finally opened in May 1885. At the time it was built, the Auckland Baptist Tabernacle’s portico could be viewed from the harbour and its auditorium (which can accommodate up to 1,500 people) was the largest in the city.
All Saints Anglican Church
Located in the eastern suburb of Howick, All Saints was the very first parish church to be built in Auckland. Upon its construction in 1847 the church primarily served the needs of soldiers who stationed in strategic positions across the Auckland isthmus during the New Zealand Wars (a series of land conflicts between the British Crown and Maori). The church’s lychgate, which was erected in 1930, serves as a memorial to the soldiers who died during the conflict.
Saint Mary's Church
Saint Mary’s Church in Parnell served as the Cathedral Church of the Anglican Diocese of Auckland from its completion until 1973, when the Holy Trinity Cathedral’s Chancel came into use. The wooden Gothic Revival church was designed by distinguished Christchurch architect Benjamin Mountfort, who is widely credited for bringing this Victorian architectural style into New Zealand. Saint Mary’s was consecrated in 1898, after its four final bays were added, and was Mountfort’s final large-scale project.
Holy Trinity Cathedral
The Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell is currently the mother church of the Anglican Diocese of Auckland. While the land where it resides was originally purchased by then-Bishop Selwyn in 1843, it wasn’t until much later – in 1957 – that the foundation stone for the cathedral was laid. Holy Trinity’s neo-Gothic style Chancel was completed in 1973; it also houses the Marsden Chapel which is regularly used as a separate place for worship. Right after this, the aforementioned St Mary’s Church was actually shifted to its present location – just across the road and adjacent to the completed Chancel.
St Michael's Church
St Michael’s is a Catholic church in the inner-city suburb of Remuera. It is noted for its striking brickwork as well as its distinctive Gothic and Italian Romanesque style. The church opened in 1933 and was awarded the prestigious New Zealand Institute of Architects’ gold medal that same year. A marble altar and a plaster canopy were installed in 1950, while stained glass depictions of Hope and Charity were added to St Michael’s rose windows in 1954. Besides undergoing a couple of rounds of structural strengthening, the church’s exteriors have been largely unaltered since its inception.
St Stephen's Chapel
St Stephen’s Chapel holds a special place in the history of the Church of England in New Zealand. It’s believed that the Anglican chapel was devised to become the venue for the signing of the constitution of the United Church of England and Ireland in New Zealand in 1857. St Stephen’s Chapel was designed by English architect and clergyman Frederick Thatcher and replaced an earlier structure which had collapsed in 1845. Its churchyard is also historically noteworthy in that it contains the graves of some of Auckland’s most illustrious early settlers.
These recommendations were updated on June 26, 2018 to keep your travel plans fresh.