Little River Rail Trail
Experience the ever-changing scenery on the Little River Rail Trail.
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Little River Rail Trail

The Little River Rail Trail begins in the Christchurch suburb of Hornby and flanks the shores of Lake Ellesmere and Lake Forsyth to end in the quaint township of Little River. Enjoy the ever-changing landscapes from farmland to wetland on this 49km trail comprising of both on and off road cycling. 

Section 1, distance 4km – Christchurch (Hornby to Prebbleton)

This section is sealed and follows Shands Road to the intersection with Marshs Road. It then crosses the road to follow the old railway corridor through to Prebbleton.

Points of interest: Hornby is a residential suburb of Christchurch and an important commercial centre.

Section 2, distance 7km – Prebbleton to Lincoln

Beginning at the intersection of Birches Road and Trices Road. This section comprises of a 7km off-road wide asphalt pathway that runs alongside the original railway line from Birches Road to Lincoln.

Points to note: For those beginning the trail in Prebbleton there is car-parking available along Birches Road between Springs Road and Trices Road or at the Prebbleton Reserve.

Section 3, distance 10km – Lincoln to Ahuriri Reserve

This section connects Lincoln to the Ahuriri Reserve utilising a number of sub-sections and on-road segments. The Rail Trail uses a shared pathway along the northern side of Edward Street. Continue to the Edward Street – Ellesmere Road intersection and then turn right into Ellesmere Road. Travel 1km along Ellesmere Road, turn left into the Rail Trail that connects to Collins Road East and River Road. This section provides safe off-road cycling to River Road. From River Road to Ahuriri Reserve care needs to be taken as cyclists will be sharing the country road with heavy vehicles. At the end of River Road there is a section on the true right connecting from Geddes Road to Neills Road.

Section 4, distance 4km – Ahuriri Reserve to Motukarara

Off-road riding on hard packed gravel. The section begins adjacent to the Halswell Canal before deviating away onto farmland for approximately 1.7km.

Point to note: A joint planting plan for this area is being carried out by The Waihora Ellesmere Trust (WET), Rail Trail Trust and ECAN.

Section 5, 13.3km – Motukarara to Birdlings Flat

Arguably the most picturesque section of the Little River Rail Trail. The track follows the old rail embankment from Motukarara to Little River alongside Lake Ellesmere (Te Waihora) and Lake Forsyth (Te Wairewa). The trail offers stunning views across the lakes towards the Southern Alps, with great opportunities to see a variety of bird life.

Riders can access this section of the trail at Kaituna Quarry, Seabridge Road, Birdlings Flat and Catons Bay.

Points to note: Picnic stops are at Kaituna Quarry and Catons Bay. There is a small on-road section near Little River, please take care here when crossing the road.

Section 6, distance 9.7km – Birdlings Flat to Little River

The trail navigates along the old railway embankment, turning inland and ends closer to the Little River township on a compact gravel track. The majority of the track travels beside Te Roto o Wairewa (Lake Forsyth).


  • The Little River Railtrail is a combined walking and cycling track running from the edge of Christchurch city out into the beautiful, rural landscape of the Canterbury region.

    Natural High
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  • …The Little River Railtrail connects Christchurch to Little River via a pleasant and purpose-built cycle trail following a 19th century rail route.

    Selwyn District Council