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11 Ways to Spend the Day in Lyttelton

Top Things to Do 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!

1. 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. A must-stop is the Lyttelton Coffee Company, renown for their excellent coffee roasted on-site, where you'll be treated to epic views over the harbour. Feeling a bit parched? Pop across the road to Civil and Naval, a local favourite, with an impressive range of Canterbury craft beer, epic fried chicken, and hand-cut chips with bottomless aioli.

2. Hit the Lyttelton Market

Saturday mornings are a hive of activity in Lyttelton. The thriving Farmers' Market attracts a host of locals and visitors every weekend, with a colourful array of local produce and handmade eatables. Local musicians often provide entertainment, and there are lots of tempting treats to enjoy with a good coffee as you soak up the atmosphere.

3. Relax and Play at Albion Square Playground

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.

4. Walk the 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.

5. Explore Top Picnic Spots near Lyttelton

How do warm days, a blanket, and a basket of goodies sound? Um, yes please. Close to Lyttelton you'll find plenty of spots to lay back and enjoy a seaside picnic. Corsair Bay and Cass Bay have been popular spots for generations, with playgrounds, tables, and toilets. If you take the walking track between Corsair Bay and Cass Bay, you'll also find a tiny private beach about halfway. A little further west of Cass Bay you'll find Pony Point, a grassy scenic reserve surrounded by native plants and stunning views. 

Credit: Neil Macbeth

6. Boat Watching at Te Ana Marina

Stretch out on the recycled wharf seats and watch the boats float by in Te Ana Marina. An ideal spot for families, with plenty of parking and flat space. Bring the kids' bikes or scooters as the sealed footpath makes for excellent speedster races. Stroll over to Lyttelton township on the path linking back to Norwich Quay for a refuel at one of the cafes or bars. 

7. Day Trip to Diamond Harbour

Across the water you'll find Diamond Harbour, and a great little day trip to get away without the hassle of too much travel. Take a quick ride on the Black Cat Ferry from Lyttelton with crossings every hour. On arrival explore the coastal track, Stoddart Cottage, art gallery and the delightful Diamond Harbour Eatery overlooking a reserve. There's also a great spot to fish off the wharf or enjoy a dip in the harbour. 

8. Walking Tracks Near Lyttelton

Follow the footsteps of early European settlers and walk the Bridle Path linking Christchurch to Lyttelton. Along the path, you'll find memorial seats honouring the pioneers and the first four ships to Canterbury who walked or rode over from Lyttelton. Enjoy sweeping 360 views of Christchurch and Lyttelton at the top of the hill.

For a seaside walk, head from Lyttelton along the Coastal Path to Corsair Bay. Named after a whaling vessel that drifted onto rocks in 1861 and was wrecked, Corsair Bay is a beautiful spot to spend the day. The track takes about an hour but if you're after something a little shorter, the self-guided Heritage Walk explores the historical sites of Lyttelton township. 

9. Find Treasures in the Torpedo Boat Museum

Find the Torpedo Boat Museum in the Old Powder Magazine Building along the coast from the Navel Point boat ramp. See a piece of history with the partly restored 1885 Lyttleton torpedo boat and an example of a steam engine that once powered it. Check out the scale model and historical documentary to learn more about how these boats worked.

10. Escape to Quail island

There's nothing like an adventure to see island shipwrecks. Discover Quail Island's unique history; a former leper colony, a training ground for Antarctic explorers, a ship graveyard, and now a pest-free ecological reserve. 

The Island is accessible by multiple tracks and you can complete the walking track loop in 2 1/2 hours. Be sure to bring walking shoes, a picnic, and your togs in warm weather. Get to Island on the Quail Island Ferries (Black Cat Cruises) from Lyttelton. 

11. View History at Lyttelton's Timeball Station

Lyttelton’s Timeball is a reminder of the town’s important maritime location. A rare piece of maritime history, it has been restored after suffering damage during the September 2010 earthquake. The Timeball Station is open to the public and boasts spectacular views over Lyttelton Harbour.

Timeball stations were important visual signals in many of the world's ports enabling correct ships' chronometers and accurate navigation. However many were discontinued after radio signals were invented. The Lyttelton Timeball Station is one of only five in the world known to be still working. Be sure to keep an eye out during your visit at 1pm to see the station drop its ball.