Pet owners are spending up to $250 to get special photos of their pets with Santa Claus - and it is becoming a popular Christmas keepsake for many Kiwi families.

Christchurch-based Craig Bullock, 37, of Furtography, has been photographing animals for about 15 years and has been doing Christmas-themed photos for pets for the past five.

His Christmas packages range from $49 to $249 and include images of pets with and without Santa Paws, as well as Christmas cards and high resolution digital files for the more expensive photo packages.

He has had different Christmas settings over the years; including a winter wonderland scene, a Hobbit hole and the classic Kiwi Summer Christmas with a blue sky in the background. This year's photos will feature a traditional British Christmas scene with a decorated tree and fireplace in the background.


"People love it. Pets are a huge part of our families - whether they are kind of surrogate people or whether they're an addition to a family.

"People's relationships with their pets is always inspiring to me.''

Getting a photo taken with the big man in red has been an age-old tradition for families come Christmas time.

Many people grew up getting special photos with Santa at the local shopping mall. But there are now other options available around town.

Westfield shopping centres are in full Christmas spirit swing and St Nick will be available for photos every day up until Christmas Eve. Photos with Santa start from $15 and they can also be purchased in the form of key chains, fridge magnets or even Christmas baubles.

Auckland Zoo's WildZone gift shop is running a Santa's Grotto deal where people can get a photo with the big man for $12.

Snowplanet, the only indoor snow dome in the country, has a deal where children can meet Santa at his magic castle in the snow, and get photos with him for $15.

Other retail companies and organisations are also getting on board and offering photos with St Nick in store.


Smith & Caughey's, on Queen St, has again opened its popular Santa's Enchanted Forest grotto and children can get a photo with Santa for $15 for a non-booked appointment.

However, those wanting to cut queues are snapping up pre-booked slots that will get them a photo with Santa for $30.

And this weekend is the last chance to get a free photo with Santa at the Harvey Norman franchise. People can also buy photo packs starting from $5 that include larger prints and calendars.

Bullock said families he worked with loved that they could feature the family pet in a Christmas photo with their children.

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"Obviously they can't go to the mall with their dog, but the dog is a big part of their life and they want them to be in the family photo.

"I have a lady that's been coming for three or four years and she's coming again this year. She's got three teenagers, two small pinschers and six bulldogs coming this year,'' he laughed.

Over the years he has mostly taken photos of dogs and cats, but there has also been the occasional horse and even a pet sheep.