History of Christchurch's Antigua Boat Sheds

With their green and white stripes and quaint lean towards the Avon River, Christchurch’s Antigua Boat Sheds is one of the city’s most recognisable buildings, and is thought to be one of the oldest commercial buildings in the country that is still used for its original purpose. Punting began operating at the Boat Sheds in 1994 and we’re still going strong 25 years later!

The Antigua Boat Sheds were built in 1882 by Messrs Shaw and Tidd who were boat builders from nearby Lyttelton. Boat hire has been available ever since, and the walls inside our Punting on the Avon site and at the Antigua Boat Sheds Café are filled with black and white snaps of people enjoying paddling on the river in years gone by. Keep an eye out for the photos on your next visit as they are well worth having a look at.

The Boat Sheds suffered from a fire in 1907 that consumed the eastern end of the building and many boats inside: the damaged part of the building was rebuilt as a two-storey section that Punting operates out of today. The building is now a Category 1 heritage listed building and is the only boat sheds left of several that were once situated on the banks of the Avon.

There have been some colourful owners of the Boat Sheds over the years: Samuel Anstey bought the building from builder Mr Shaw in the late 1800s and created a photographic room. Many of his glass negatives were found in the roof space years later. W.S. Dini was a well-known local character who owned the Antigua Boat Sheds for 30 years in the mid 1900s and was known for his gramophone and phonograph collection (he also built a one-man aircraft). The Boat Sheds have been family-owned by two generations of the Phipps/Jones family since 1978.

The Antigua Boat Sheds is the perfect home for Punting on the Avon: the sense of history and quaint touches go hand in hand with our heritage punt rides! The café and boat hire next door (operated by the current Boat Sheds owners) are also popular spots for Christchurch locals. Pop in and see us when you are next passing by!