At 56.4 metres (185 ft), the spire makes the building one of the tallest in the South Island and it was the island's tallest building until the construction of Christchurch Cathedral which was completed in 1881. It again held that rank briefly from 1888, after the latter building was damaged by an earthquake. The church is currently the city's tallest building.
The building is constructed of Oamaru stone, set on foundations of basalt breccia from Port Chalmers, with details carved by Louis Godfrey, who also did much of the woodcarving in the interior. The use of "cathedral glass", colored but unfigured glass pending the donation of a pictorial window for the rose window is characteristic of Otago's 19th-century churches, where donors were relatively few reflecting the generally "low church" sentiments of the place. Similar examples can be found in several of Lawson's other churches throughout Otago.