Offering a great perspective on the winding coastline to the east, the Port Hills are an easy escape from Christchurch that can be reached in just a few hours. A brochure with walking and cycling trail maps is available from the iSite Visitor Centre in the Christchurch Arts Centre. For an easier route to the ridgeline, take the Christchurch Gondola to Mt. Cavendish, where a top station has 360-degree views. The hills are also an included stop or pass-through on some tours of Christchurch and the surrounding area, including shore excursions from the cruise port at Akaroa.
Things to Know Before You Go
- This is a great destination for bird-lovers. Bellbirds, grey warblers, and shining cuckoos are just some of the native birds commonly spotted here.
- Trails here can be quite muddy after rain. At these times, plan to bring sturdy hiking boots.
- The Christchurch Gondola can accommodate folding wheelchairs.
How to Get There
If you’re driving yourself, Dyers Pass Road is the main point of access into the Port Hills; an especially scenic offshoot is the narrow, winding Summit Road. There are also a handful of bus stops with good access to Port Hills trailheads. Near Harry Ell Track and Latters Spur Tracks is the Hackthorne Road bus stop; the Huntsbury Avenue bus stop is the starting point for Huntsbury Track, Farm Track, and Gorge Track.
When to Get There
The most popular time to visit Christchurch is in New Zealand’s summer months, from December through February. At this time of year, expect sunny days and busy trails in the Port Hills. The Spring months from September to November are an appealing shoulder season, and fine weather can also continue into the fall, which goes from March through May.
Walking Trails in the Port Hills Climbing to big views from Summit Road, the 1.9-mile (3-kilometer) Harry Ell Walkway is a popular hike, and goes right past the Sign of the Kiwi Café, where many walkers pause for snacks and drinks. For morning light over the Banks Peninsula, the 4.3-mile (7-kilometer) Rapaki Track is wide and well-graded. A lesser-known option that’s also kid friendly is the 1.25-mile (2-kilometer) Hidden Valley trail from Bowenvale.
- Christchurch Gondola
- Cashel Street
- Transitional Cathedral (Cardboard Cathedral)
- Bridge of Remembrance
- New Regent Street
- Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial
- Christchurch Tram
- Christchurch Arts Centre
- Avon River
- Canterbury Museum
- Hagley Park
- Christchurch Botanic Gardens
- The Court Theatre
- TranzAlpine Train
- Mona Vale