Update 18 Oct 2010
This lovely church has suffered extensive damage in the September 4 earthquake that rattled the region and the following aftershocks. The church has been secured with a special supporting structure bracing the roof. A precious stained glass window has been taken away and stored at a safe location. Despite the shock the community will be celebrating the church's 150 year anniversary on 31 October under a marquee on the church grounds.
This little church sits in the old Governors Bay Cemetery, located on the main road, at the end of the township (coming from Christchurch or Lyttelton), on the right side.
The foundation stone was laid in 1860. It was designed by the architect George Mallinson, and it took two years to complete. It is made of stone, with interior woodworks. It is said that the cobblestone porch was made of stones women carried from the beach in their aprons. Buttresses had to be added at three ends of the church because the wind caught the roof so hard it made the building shake. The church was consecrated in 1875, and Anglican service is held until today, every Sunday at 9am.
When I was there on an afternoon during the week the church was locked – but it was interesting to see all the things people forget in the church. They lay on the benches in the porch. Everything from sunglasses to umbrellas.
The cemetery has a beautiful atmosphere, with large rimu trees and conifers, and fantails hovering all over the place.
The church belongs to the Mount Herbert Parish.
The patron St. Cuthbert was born about 635 AD and died in 687. He lived in Northumbria where he worked to bring Christianity to remote hamlets. He later served as Bishop of Hexham for two years. He became patron Saint of Lindisfarne monastery. St. Cuthbert is depicted in the east window, holding St. Oswald’s head. St. Oswald was the saintly king of Northumbria. The Danes forced the monks of Lindisfarne to leave their island in the 9th century. They took with them the head of St. Oswald who had died in battle, and laid it in the coffin of St. Cuthbert. When St. Cuthbert’s tomb was opened in 1104, St. Oswald’s head was seen resting in St. Cuthbert’s arms.
You also reach the church from the Foreshore Road Walkway. After about 20 min from the jetty you reach a double barrier. Here you have to turn right, and walk up the hill. At the top you reach the main road, and there it is on the opposite side.
Photo 2 shows the north-west side of the church and the cobblestone porch.
Located about 3 km from the Lyttelton Road Tunnel, this is another nice bay with a swimming beach with changing and toilet facilities. It is wider than the bay and beach at Corsair Bay.
As many little boats are sitting in the harbour the view, coming from Corsair Bay, is just amazing.
It also is a good place to start kayak tours on the harbour.
The Maori name of Cass Bay is Motu-kauati-rahi, so very similar to Moto-kauti-iti for Corsair Bay.
Motu-kauati-iti (Corsair Bay) means: little fire-making tree grove, and Motu-kauati-rahi (Cass Bay) means: great fire-making tree grove.
These two bays were home to many kaikomako trees that were used for fire-making through wood friction.
The story of the myth behind the naming of the bays evolved from the legendary Mahuika, who threw fire from his finger tips into the kaikomako tree.
The Fire-making process:
A block of the kaikomako was rubbed with a stick of hardwood until the resulting shavings burst into flame. The kaikomako was used as the kauati, the piece which is rubbed; the pointed rubbing stick was called the kaurima.
There are no longer any of these ancient fire making trees growing on the shores of either bay.
Special thanks to Eruera Tarena from Ngai Tahu for the explanation of those two names.
Photo 2 is a very wide panorama of the harbour with Cass Bay on the left side.
This is a rather new and small scenic reserve between Lyttelton and Governors Bay, just 750 metres past Cass Bay, on the harbour side of a sharp right-hand curve (coming from Lyttelton).
It is a grassy area, planted with natives, including a lot of flax bushes and some cabbage trees, has picnic tables and benches, and offers great harbour views. To the left you see Cass Bay and the western part of Lyttelton, straight ahead lies Quail Island, and Rapaki is to your right. The reserve is also a great place for a sunbath.
A walking track leads down to Cass Bay. It is just 750 metres and takes about 15 minutes to get there.
4 km from the Lyttelton Road Tunnel, towards Governors Bay, on the left. Between Cass Bay and Rapaki.
Mâori call Lyttelton Harbour Whakaraupô. Râpaki is the place which clearly the strongest Maori presence.
This little village, just 4.5 km from Lyttelton on the way to Governors Bay, has a marae, and when walking along the shore you will immediately notice the many signs about fishing regulations, as the Maori tribe Ngai Tahu has special rights in this area. It was one of the central fishing grounds of the early Maori because of the abundance of natural food.
Not long ago this marine reserve has been created, the Mataitai Reserve. The locals are working to re-establish shell fish beds in the bay. They are concerned about the effects of pollution from sewerage, bilge water from ships and erosion and commercial fishing upon the harbour and the quality of fish. The traditional fish associated with Whakaraupô is pioke (dried rig).
The Maori chief Te Rangi Whakaputa once assessed the land and seascapes and found it suitable as the new home for his people. He symbolically placed his waist mat on the ground, and by this he claimed the land and made the valley tapu (holy). This is where the name Rapaki comes from, meaning nothing more than “waist mat”.
It was not a peaceful land claim. Whakaputa was a warrior and chased the then resident Ngati Mamoe people out of Lyttelton Harbour. It is said that some of the victims he killed were beheaded and their heads placed in a basket atop the highest peak overlooking the harbour – which would be the rocky heads above the town of Lyttelton – and called it O-kete-upoko (the place of the basket of heads).
Lyttelton was named Ohinehou. This name refers to a young girl (hine) who was abducted by the Patupaiarehe (fairies) and changed into a new person.
When the Canterbury Association’s representative Captain Joseph Thomas arrived at Whakaraupô in the 1840s his favoured position for establishment of a port was Râpaki. But Râpaki Mâori preferred to maintain their land for themselves so the port was established at nearby Lyttelton.
From the Lyttelton Road Tunnel head towards Governors Bay. After 4.5 km turn left, down the hill, into Omaru Road. Always keep to the left (follow public toilet sign). Either park at Te Wheke (Meeting House) and walk down to the jetty, or drive down to the jetty. There are also some carparks.
Photo 2: Signs with fishing rules dominate the shoreline in Rapaki.
The Port Hills and Banks Peninsula are a great area for horseback riding. However, it is not easy to do this on your own, just by renting a horse. As most land is in the hands of a few farmers, you need permits to ride over their land. So guided tours are the best option. However, they do not seem to be cheap.
One company offering tours is Otahuna Horse Riding who are located on the Christchurch side of the Port Hills.
Options and costs:
A two-day trip in the Port Hills, with an overnight stay in Governors Bay, costs NZ$ 300 without accommodation.
$ 80 for 1.5 hours, $ 100 for a half-day trek, $ 220 for a full day ride (up to 6 hours, including lunch).
If you want a personal trek it costs double the usual price.
Here are just some views you enjoy when you walk along the properties on the main road. And you can bet, if you live higher on the slopes of the crater the views get more and more spectacular.
BUT still I think the greatest spots are on the harbour side of the main road. There are some huge properties behind high natural fences, with swimming pools, and no neighbours close-by. Some owners can even afford their own gardener, and their houses include private movie-theatres, and one of the houses I admire every time I run on the Foreshore Road Walkway looks like a castle-like mansion.
The minus is that the sun can disappear rather early behind the Port Hills, especially in winter.
Some people living close to the sea have no views at all but enjoy their secluded homes in the middle of native bush, and listening to the songs of the birds.
Photo 2 shows more of this view, over Mansions Peninsula, Diamond Harbour to Adderley Head at the entrance of Lyttelton Harbour.
Photo 3: The admirable mansion sitting above the water.
Photo 4: View towards Lyttelton from the Foreshore Road Walkway.
This really is an impressive pier. The closer you get the longer it seems to become. It reminds me of the near endless (and now rotting) jetty of Tolaga Bay on the East Coast of the North Island.
Originally the jetty of Governors Bay was much shorter but obviously the head of Lyttelton Harbour is silting, so the jetty had to be extended to reach deep water.
Many locals come down to just take a stroll on the jetty and back, I have not met many who walked on the Foreshore Road Walkway but many who make the jetty return trip. When the tide is not too low you can watch shags diving for food, and all kinds of seagulls sitting on the banisters. I always have some bread crumbs for the sparrows who populate a tree near the jetty. They are much more shy down there than the sparrows in the city who nearly feed from your hand, as are the seagulls. Obviously they enjoy the extra food but are not really used to it.
Directions as in the Foreshore Road Walkway tip.
Photo 2: A nice view from the jetty to Banks Peninsula and Adderley Head at the entrance of Lyttelton Harbour.
Photo 3: View from the jetty to Godley Head which sits on the opposite side of Adderley Head, at the end of the Port Hills, on the Lyttelton side of the harbour.
Photo 4: View from the jetty back to Governors Bay.
Although I have been living in Lyttelton – only 8 km from Governors Bay – for several years now, it has taken me all this time to finally discover this beautiful walkway along the shore. I had often stopped at one of the two cafés on the main road but never made the way down the hill to the jetty. That is where the walkway starts.
It has become my favourite flat jogging track close to home, and depending on how many kilometres I want to run, I just run it once, twice, or one and half times.
The one way distance from the jetty to the Allandale reserve is 3.5 km, and most times the barriers at the start and the end of the track are locked, so no cars can get on the track – which, of course, is forbidden at all times. The track is only open for walkers and cyclists. It meanders along the waterline.
Depending on the tides, you can watch lots of shore and wading birds on the water side. At low tide there are huge mudflats, where you can see lots of white-faced herons, as well as some oystercatchers, masked lapwings (plovers) and kingfishers. From the land side you are entertained by a chorus of bellbirds and the aerobatics of ever-beeping fantails. This is also very uplifting when jogging gets tiring ;-)
You can also see interesting volcanic rock formations along the track, in all colours and shapes, including dykes reaching into the water, similar to those you can study on Quail Island. There are a few pockets of native forest left, including old rimu, and some people have nicely reforested their waterfront properties.
Believe it or not, this walkway is the original road through Governors Bay. Prisoners from the Lyttelton Gaol built it as a bridle way in 1857 already. So the official name of the walkway is Foreshore Road Walkway. It was the extension of a bridle way from Lyttelton to Governors Bay, built in 1856.
There is a double barrier at about half-way of the walkway (after about 20 min). If you walk up the hill there (Church Lane) you reach the main road, and can get straight to Ye Old Vicarage, now St. Cuthbert’s Church, located in an old cemetery. From there you either get back to the track at the waterfront, or carry on along the main road. Although this is a busy road, there is enough space (grass verge) to make it safely until the official start of the footpath that leads back into the village centre.
Coming from Christchurch or Lyttelton, you reach the jetty by turning left before the She Café. There are several carparks (and a public toilet) right after the turn. From there you could walk about 500 metres down the hill. Or you drive down SLOWLY, and I mean SLOWLY because the streets are narrow, and nobody seems to be aware that there could be oncoming traffic. Several accidents have been reported. Next to the jetty is parking space for about five to six cars.
Photo 2 shows one of several seats inviting the walkers to sit down and enjoy the fantastic views of the fiord-like harbour.
Photo 3 shows the bay at low tide.
Photo 4 shows a volcanic dyke reaching into the water. Lyttelton Harbour was created by two volcanic eruptions.
Photo 5 shows a colourful rock formation along the track. They look like man-made but are natural rocks that were eroded in millions of years.
Governors Bay is a lovely place at the head – the very end – of the fiord-like Lyttelton Harbour. You reach it either on the coastal road from Lyttelton after an 8 km drive, or directly from Christchurch, always straight ahead down Colombo Street, up Dyers Pass Road, and crossing the Summit Road at the Sign of the Kiwi, steeply down the Port Hills again.
We had long thought about buying a house in Governors Bay but finally decided against it because you lose the sun rather early, as it disappears behind the Port Hills, and there are several steep valleys lying very much in the shade, so it can become rather uncomfortable in winter. (Well, hubby thought the lack of satellite TV in some areas is as bad as this LOL) The biggest minus, however, is that there is no bus connection neither to Christchurch nor to Lyttelton, so you totally depend on the car. And you have to drive to Lyttelton or Christchurch for anything but having a meal. There is no shop, no post-office, just a school, a pub, and a café.
Nevertheless Governors Bay is lovely. Living in Lyttelton, we often stop there for a coffee on the way back from Banks Peninsula, either from Diamond Harbour or via Gebbies Pass. The choice is not big. Either you go to the She Café which once was the little town’s only store, or to the historic hotel on the opposite side of the main road. The latter also offers accommodation.
Although the population has been growing constantly since the installation of sewerage and a water supply 20 years ago, the town still has the charm of a laid-back village. New housing developments are spreading up the steep face of the volcanic crater which envelopes the compact heart of the village along the main road.
Before fruit and produce were shipped in from the warmer north, Governors Bay was known for its produce, growing in this frost-free micro-climate. Now you will find several nurseries along the road instead.
The town’s name refers to Governor Sir George Grey who welcomed the first four ships of British settlers sailing into Lyttelton Harbour in 1850.
Earlier, the Maori had a fortified pa on the headland, known as Ohinetahi – meaning: one-woman, referring to a chief's only daughter. You can see this name on a sign near the original site when driving on the main road.
If you carry on after Governors Bay you can first take a right turn to Gebbies Pass and the state highway to Akaroa, or drive around the whole harbour basin to Diamond Harbour and Purau, and then up the steep slopes of Banks Peninsula, and down again to Port Levy. From there you can continue to a great back country trip on unsealed roads to Little River, via the Port Levy Saddle. Only do this in good weather conditions and if your car has no low-lying spoilers...
Photo 2 is a closer shot of Governors Bay. Behind this part of the Port Hills is the state highway to Akaroa and Lake Ellesmere.
Photo 3 shows a typical row of mailboxes for the rural mail delivery. Governors Bay has no post-office.
Corsair Bay is the second bay (after Magazine Bay) if you walk along the harbour from the township of Lyttelton. It is well-known for its annual Ocean Swim competition, held in February. In 2002 it even hosted the World Masters' Open-Water Swimming Championships.
In summer it is a popular swimming spot, and has a jetty, as well as picnic areas. The beach is small but nice. Changing shelters and toilets on site. Above the beach is a settlement, from most properties you enjoy great views of the bay and the harbour.
Corsair Bay sits along a nice coastal walkway which starts at Magazine Bay, outside Lyttelton, and leads to Cass Bay, and from there up the hill to Pony Point Reserve. It is just 2 km from the Lyttelton Road Tunnel.
The Maori name of Corsair Bay is Motu-kauati-iti. (Explanation see under Cass Bay – as the names are related.)
For walking from Lyttelton I recommend to use the footpath along the road to Governors Bay. The direct road along the harbour to Magazine Bay where the nice walkway along the waterfront starts is not very nice, does not have a footpath in most parts, and a lot of trucks are speeding past you, and covering you in dust. If you start your walk at Magazine Bay, drive down this not so nice road (first left after the roundabout at the tunnel), turn right before the rugby ground.
The Maori Meeting House in Rapaki is named after Te Wheke, the son of Te Raki Whakaputa. It was opened on 30 December 1901 by the then Minister of Labour, W.C.Walker. It is planned to replace this ageing hall by a carved meeting house (Whare Whakairo), like the one you can see at Okains Bay, on Banks Peninsula, and many other places in NZ, of course.
There are two cemeteries in Rapaki. One is surrounded by a fence. In its centre sits a nice little white church. This originates from the arrival of the Methodist missionary Te Koti Te Rato who moved to Rapaki in 1865. The people of Rapaki built this church which was opened on 4 May 1869 with a multi-denominational service. It has been supported by the Anglican, Presbyterian and Wesleyan ministries and is still used today for occasional services.
The second cemetery is located opposite the old one, on a steep hillside.
The jetty – where you cannot fish without the consent of the Maori management – is just some steps to the right of the church.
This jetty opened in 1916 and was named Gallipoli in remembrance of local men who fought and died there in WW1.
If you keep to the left a path leads down to a nice secluded beach.
Directions in the main tip about Rapaki.
Photo 2: The jetty, in front of the spectacular backdrop of the hills of Banks Peninsula and Lyttelton Harbour.
Photo 3: Te Wheke, the Maori meeting house.
Photo 4: The secluded swimming beach of Rapaki.
Quail Island was NOT the plug of the volcano that created Lyttelton Harbour: This was the first thing I learnt on a geological excursion on this wonderful little island. In fact, the harbour was created by several eruptions - two phases about 12 million years ago, and two eruptions of Mt. Herbert 9.5 and 8 million years ago. Quail Island, named after the native quails extinct in 1875, has traces of all those activities, younger rock formations melted into the older ones as dikes.
You can see all this on a 4.5kms walk around the island which you reach by ferry from Lyttelton, departing at 12.20pm from October to April and at 10.20am from December to March ($15 incl. map). Return at 12.30pm (Dec-Mar) and 3.30pm (Oct-Apr). As the island also has nice swimming beaches you can spend several hours there. Bring your food and drinks, nothing is available on Q.I.
There is a lot to see, as Quail Island also has a rich history of human settlement. Fabulous panels at the sites deliver all the information.
In 1875 the island was declared a quarantine station for Europeans arriving with contagious diseases. Later it became a sanatorium for children from the Lyttelton orphanage. From 1907 to 1925 it was used as a small leper colony. One man was held there for 19 years but only one died from leprosy. You can see his grave. The station was closed in 1956.
The immigration quarantine barracks - a large white building at the swimming beach near the wharf - were restored in 1997. Also some cottages are in good shape, one is used as a visitor and display centre.
Another point of interest is the ships' graveyard. A steep, narrow path leads down to the shore where the rusting skeletons of a steamship, a schooner and some barques found their final resting places between 1902 and 1951.
Actually the island is replanted with native trees and shrubs, you can see some impressive plantations on your walk. Surrounded by the Port Hills and the mountains of Banks Peninsula you can spend a great day on this quiet and peaceful island.
Just over the hill from this famous port is the town of Christchurch. It has approx 400K people living there and is one of the flattest cities in New Zealand. You should come here for the beautiful english architecture and to watch sport at Lancaster Park (aka Jade Stadium).
take the wee ferry from Lyttelton, right by the Harbour and have a good day out in the nice surroundings at Diamond Harbour.
Great walkways, nice wee cafes afterwards or take your bike and explore
the ferry goes every full hour
This is the track that the early settlers used to get thier worldly possessions over the hill and into the marshy land that is now Christchurch (Christchurch was mainly swampland that was drained). The track starts on Bridle Path Rd, goes over the Summit (past a brick hut left as a memorial) and then over the other side and into Heathcote Valley. It's about 40 minutes to the Summit Rd and then another 40 or so to the bottom. Watch out for the occassional Mountain Biker (sorry if it's me......) as the move kid off quick down this part of the track.