Stopping off at the Sign of the Kiwi on the Dyers Pass section of Summit Road for tea and scones on a misty afternoon was like stepping back in time to the days of the early 20th century when the solid stone teahouse was first built. Then a whole string of resthouses bearing the name "The Sign of ...." were planned for the scenic route but only four were built and time has seen The Sign of the Bellbird become simply a picnic shelter and the Sign of the Packhorse a trampers hut.
There's no accommodation on offer at The Sign of the Kiwi these days, but the lovely old stone building has recently been refurbished, recreating the strong Arts and Crafts motif of its original brief - form and function coming together in sympathy with the natural surroundings. The cars across the road in the carpark and a few of the dishes on the cafe-style menu (I'm sure nachos weren't a feature of tearoom menus in 1917) may have changed but not much else has. The views are still as expansive as ever, the scones as light as Granny's, the choice of jams and preserves a reminder of the sort of jam she used to make and the hospitality just as welcome as when the doors first opened.
As we were placing our order for tea and scones, the mist rolled away and we were able to sit outside in warm(ish) sunshine to enjoy the view in the late afternoon light - a lovely end to a great day.
Favorite Dish: The menu promised some delicious sounding soups, home-baked pies and cakes and other goodies but we opted for old-fashioned scones with our tea. They were delicious, light and fluffy, fresh as fresh, served with my choice of pear and ginger jam (something my Grandmother always made) and lashings of thick, yellow cream. Perfect!
The Sign of the Kiwi was a roadhouse, opened in 1917. It is one of four thet formedpart of the vision of an erly conservationist, Harry Ell. He wanted aseries of reserves to be established along the Port Hills, linked by a summit road that would trevel right across Banks Peninsula. The roadhouses were to offer shelter and refreshment. You can't stay there any longer, but the Sign of the Kiwi is now a tearoom. It'salso an exellent starting point for many of the Port Hills walking routes.