Lyttelton is one of the oldest settlements on Banks Peninsula and only a short drive from Christchurch. The quirky harbour town has a lot of history to discover and is worth a closer look!
London Street is the main street in Lyttelton with a lot of bars, cafes, restaurants and shops. The town has its own coffee roastery and the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans wavers through the streets and will draw you into The Lyttelton Coffee Co. This coffee shop is usually buzzing especially on a weekend. The coffee shop has a good selection of cabinet food and a regularly changing breakfast and lunch menu.
If you are looking for a souvenir to take home, check out Henry Trading which is located next to The Lyttelton Coffee Co. The shop is specialised in New Zealand made products. Along that street side, you will also find other shops such as Lyttel Kiwi a children clothing shop.
London Street is also the home of Roots, an award-winning restaurant. Booking ahead pays off as the restaurant is very popular. There are a few bars to choose from to go for a nightcap. A Lyttelton institution is Wunderbar - no visit to the port town is complete without having a drink there.
For everyone who has a sweet tooth, a visit to Glamour Cake is a must. The cupcakes and donuts are arty creations and a real treat. The owner comes up with new creations almost every week, be in quick though, the sugary treats sell fast.
Every Saturday morning from 10am - 1pm, London Street transforms into a buzzing market square. The local farmers come to town and sell their products: fresh vegetable and fruit, but also baked goods, cured meat, cheese and preservatives. There is also a little flea market where people can find all sorts of knickknack like tools, pottery, artwork, clothing and jewellery.
Lyttelton is best explored by foot. There are a lot of short walks that will take you on a journey through the town's history:
- Sutton Reserve next to Norwich Quay used to be a Māori Pa site and was also the place where Māori held a market where fruit and vegetables were sold to the early settlers. Nowadays it is home to a Pou Whenua (a traditional Maori carved pole that marks Māori territorial boundaries or places of significance).
- Grubb Cottage is in London Street, a short walk from Albion Square, opposite the Lyttelton fire brigade building. The family home was built in 1851 by Scotsman John Grubb. The cottage is one of the oldest cottages in Canterbury. It is classed as a heritage building and visitors can take a self-guided tour of the house. The tour will give you more information on the Grubb family history, the building materials used and daily life in the 19th century.
- Besides Grubb Cottage, there is the old Gaol (jail), that survived the ravages of time. The cells are still visible. The jail is a short walk up from the Lyttelton Information Centre.
- Another landmark is the Lyttelton Timeball. In the early days of the settlers, it was important to have visual signals to communicate between ships and the port. The Timeball signalled the time to the sips using a ball that dropped from its mast into the stone tower. In 1934 radio signals replaced The Timeball, but the tower stayed. Nowadays, the fully restored Lyttelton Timeball is only one of five working Timeballs left in the world. The Timeball is situated on the right side of the port, towering above the town.
- If you feel like a good workout, we recommend walking the Bridle Path over to the Christchurch side of the Port Hills. This historic walk was used by the first settlers as a link between Lyttelton Port, Christchurch and the Canterbury Plains.
Take the ferry
Across from Lyttelton is Diamond Harbour, a beautiful seaside village with stunning views over the bays and the heads. By ferry, it only takes 10 minutes to cross the harbour. There are picturesque walks and cafes to spend the afternoon.
Another gem is Quail Island, the former leprosy colony has stunning beaches and picnic spots. The Black Cat ferry is running regularly over summer, but only twice a day in spring and autumn. To circle the island it takes 2.5 hours by foot.