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11 Ways to Spend the Day in Lyttelton

Discover the lively town of Lyttelton. From quirky cafes, eclectic shops, the must visit Saturday farmers market to historical gems at every turn. Lyttelton and the surrounding bays are definitely worth taking the time to explore. Here's some top picks for a great day out!

Stroll down London Street

London Street is the shopping and food core of Lyttelton. Dine at the delicious cafes or pop into the local craft shops for a spot of shopping. Stop to admire “Hector” - a bronze sled dog statue celebrating the commitment of Lyttelton to exploration in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. Hector symbolises the courage, commitment and comradeship of those involved in this continuing endeavour. 

Albion Square

Albion Square was once the location of a prominent hotel and backpackers. When the building was lost to the earthquakes, the community took the opportunity and transformed the wasteland into a community-minded space with the council further developing the site into what it is today.

The Square is now home to a spectacular locally carved archway, a children’s play area, the historic Cenotaph and sculptures by local artists. Take time to relax and watch the world go or enjoy music from one of the local buskers.

Urumau Loop

Head up into the hills behind Lyttelton for magnificent vistas over Whakaraupo/Lyttelton Harbour. The walk takes you through Urumau Reserve, which has been the focus of community native tree planting over the past few years. This 3.5 hour walk includes steep hill climbs and narrow cliff paths, ideal for the nimble-footed. Walking maps are available from the Lyttelton Harbour Information Centre.

Te Ana Marina

Enjoy the waterfront taking time to relax on the recycled wharf seats taking in the activity in the marina. An ideal spot for families, with plenty of parking and flat space. Travel by foot with a path linking back to Norwich Quay and Lyttelton township.

Top picnic spots

There are plenty of bays to explore and enjoy a picnic. Corsair Bay and Cass Bay have been popular spots for generations, with playgrounds, tables and toilets. Pony Point is a scenic reserve west of Cass Bay and has a lovely grassy area surrounded by native plants and stunning views. The carved pou depicts a culturally significant place for Maori.

Ferry to Diamond Harbour

The Black Diamond Ferry departs from Lyttelton to Diamond Harbour on the hour. On arrival explore the coastal track, Stoddart Cottage, art gallery and the village cafes. This is also a great spot to fish off the wharf or enjoy a spot of swimming. Family fun for everyone and the perfect day trip if you're visiting via cruise ship.

Walk the paths of early settlers

Follow the footsteps of early European settlers and walk the Bridle Path linking Christchurch to Lyttelton. Constructed in 1850 many horses were ridden or lead over the path hence the name. Along the path there are memorial seats honouring the pioneers and the first four ships to Canterbury. Enjoy breathtaking views of both Christchurch and Lyttelton at the top of the hill.

Other walks to enjoy:

Corsair Bay

Named after a whaling vessel which drifted onto rocks in 1861 and was wrecked, Corsair Bay is a beautiful spot to spend the day. From Lyttelton the Coastal Path to Corsair Bay follows the Governors bay road until the white gates, then drops down into the forest to reach Corsair taking about an hour. Continue along the coastal track to Pony point for a further hour of walking. 

Heritage Walk

Developed by the Lyttelton Harbour Information Centre, the self-guided Heritage Walk explores the historical sites of the township. 

View torpedo treasures

Head to the Old Powder Magazine Building to visit the Lyttelton Torpedo Boat Museum and see restored sections of the 1885 Lyttleton torpedo boat. As well as the partly re-constructed bow and stern, there is a scale model and an example of a steam engine that once powered it. An informative historical documentary can be viewed. Open weekends 1-3pm.

Escape to an island!

A real adventure over the warmer months – visit Quail Island from October to April. The island is named after the now extinct native Quail (koreke) and offers beautiful scenery, great walks, wildlife, ships’ graveyard and glimpses into the past through the information panels. The island has connections with the Antarctic and was a quarantine and training area for the sled dogs and ponies of Scott and Shackleton’s expeditions. It also housed New Zealand’s only leprosy quarantine colony.

Lyttelton Timeball

Lyttelton’s Timeball is a historic reminder of the town’s important maritime location for New Zealand and internationally. From 1876 to 1934 a ball dropped from its mast on its stone tower, signalling the time to ships in Lyttelton Harbour. Visual time signals were important features of many of the world's ports, being necessary to correct ships' chronometers and ensure accurate navigation. The Timeball Station was one of only five in the world known to be still in working order. Use of the timeball was discontinued by ships in 1934 when it was replaced by radio signals.

A rare piece of maritime history, it has been restored after suffering damage during the September 2010 earthquake that struck the region, and boasts spectacular views over Lyttelton Harbour. Be sure to keep an eye out during your visit at 1pm to see the station drop its ball.

Lyttelton Harbour Information Centre

Located at 20 Oxford Street, the Lyttelton Harbour Information Centre is staffed by local, knowledgeable volunteers who take pride in their friendly, hospitable nature.

Let the friendly staff help you to make the most of your time in Lyttelton and the bays.