The Gondola had been closed after the earthquake on 22 February 2011 - not because of structural damage but because of flooding at the summit station. Now everything is ok again, some pillars have been made safe in order to avoid potential rockfall damage. Grand re-opening on 25 March 2013!!! Get up there as you will not get anywhere near the place by car. The Summit Road in this area is still closed, as it is littered with rocks, and has not been cleared yet.
To tell you that you will have fantastic views from the Gondola on a clear day, over Lyttelton Harbour, Christchurch, the Canterbury Plains, the Kaikouras and the Southern Alps, would be like carrying coal to Newcastle.
What you might not know is that a fantastic feature of the Gondola at the summit of Mt. Cavendish is the Time Tunnel and this is even free of charge. Not anymore! (See update here)
The first part of the Time Tunnel is an exhibition about the geological history of Lyttelton Harbour and Banks Peninsula, which were created by volcanic eruptions, and the settlement first by Maori and then the Europeans, and you learn about Maori mythology and life on board the first ships that landed at Lyttelton Harbour in 1850.
The second part is a film in a little movie theatre which once more takes you through those millions of years. This is very impressive because you can see animated pictures about the eruptions that shaped the landscape, and having just had the views outside you can imagine even better. You also see how Christchurch was developed and which ideas lay behind the construction of the Summit Road.
There are a fine dining restaurant and a cafeteria at the Gondola. I can recommend the first but not the latter, that one only for coffee, cake and chips... Do not expect much of the food.
In the souvenir shop you can get real bargains if you are interested in fleece vests and jackets of the Kiwi Stuff brand.
There are more ways than just take the bus or the car to the Gondola Station and then take the gondola ride up the hill - but at the moment (25 March 2013) they are still officially closed.
1.) Walk up Bridle Path (to the right of the station), cross the fence behind the Pioneer Women's Memorial at the top, and carry on walking on the Crater Rim Walkway to the summit (40 to 50 mins). ----- Officially closed but people walk there all the time, particularly from the Christchurch side. The Lyttelton side is a little spooky near the top (rockfall).
2.) Drive to the Summit Road, park at Memorial, walk as just said (20 mins), or carry on to the carpark at the other side of the Gondola and walk up from there (easier and shorter). ---- This is impossible as the Summit Road in this area is littered with rocks. While some cyclists meander around the piles of rock there is no way to get through by car, the road is closed in this area. Best harbour view for cars is from the Sign of the Bellbird.
I think the Christchurch Gondola is a must.
The 10minute ride takes you high above the city in an enclosed 4 person gondola, climbing 445 metres above sea level to the rim of the Mount Cavendish Crater.
The 360 degree views over Pegasus Bay and the Pacific Ocean to Kaikoura, Banks Peninsula, Lake Ellesmere and Lyttleton Harbour, and across the Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps are fantastic!
Do not miss the Heritage Time tunnel which takes you through an automated, interactive area of 3D displays and audio-visual presentations. Here you learn about the origins and history of Banks Peninsula, from the Maori's onto the European settlers, of the hardships that faced them settling here.
The Summit Cafe located at the top has snacks, light meals and beverages and there is an outside balcony which is on most sides of the building where you can sit and enjoy the view, I loved the harbour views, though the scenery is great which ever way you look!....A very nice way it was to enjoy our cuppa!
The Summit Cafe is open from 10.00 a.m. every day.
Closing times: 1 September - 31st March 6.00 p.m.
1 April - 31st August 5.00 p.m.
Also located here is a Restaurant and shop, plus there are walking tracks for different levels of fitness.
OPEN from 10am to 9pm daily
COST IN 2010 .....Gondola Tickets
Adult $24 per person
Child (5 - 15 years) $10 per person
Family Pass (2 adults & up to 3 children) $59
CHRISTCHURCH TRAM & GONDOLA PASS
Adult $35 per person
Child (5 - 15 years) $12 per person
Monday - Friday buses depart the Gondola base station, approximately every 15 minutes. After 6pm, on weekends and public holidays, buses operate every 30minutes.
A not to be missed activity when in Christchurch is riding the gondola, which is at the base of Heathcoate Valley about 15 minutes from the centre of Christchurch.
It is an exhilirating experience, just like riding a cable car above 500 metres from the ground! What more, the ride is made more scary by the shaking gondola cars, each sitting 4 passengers just perfect for my family!
The ride gives a 360 view of the whole Christchurch as far as the eyes can see (if you have normal vision I suppose,LOL!)
Additional information about the update of the Time Tunnel and the resulting charge of NZ$ 4 for people who arrive on foot:
There have always been discussions about charging people for visiting the Time Tunnel. Initially everybody had to pay a charge. After massive protests the visit was free for many years. Now - after an update of the Time Tunnel which has not been to its best - they charge people who arrive on foot. They are mainly locals who take their guests on a walk to the Gondola summit for drinks or even a meal. As if walkers/hikers did not consume anything at the Gondola! We, for example, never leave without having had a coffee and a snack or cake.
I would not post the new policy as a tourist rip-off. First, $4 is not a real rip-off. Second, it would be more a locals rip-off, as they visit frequently, and bring their guests to the Gondola and even recommend a visit of the Time Tunnel. Many people do not even notice that there is a thing like the Time Tunnel up there.
To justify the charge of $4 for people who arrive on foot and not by using the gondola and cannot show their gondola tickets, they have updated the Time Tunnel to a silly adventure ride on even sillier train seats, and the super-silly girl at the entrance even wanted to make us believe that there has always been a charge, and when she saw that her lie was too transparent she said: "So we have changed our policy."
They move you through the exhibition on this train, and you cannot digest the information at your speed anymore. We met several very annoyed locals who complained about this rip-off and left swearing. And BTW You can still see the film on a TV screen in the souvenir shop. Of course, not as impressive as on a big screen.
Apart from that our friends had always enjoyed our comments, explaining where we had already been with them, and where we would still be going. This is not possible on separate two-seaters moving on the train tracks now. And of course, we would not pay $8 each time we take people to the Time Tunnel.
The Christchurch Gondola is only 15 minutes drive from the city and has 'stunning 360° views'... :) It overlooks the Banks Peninsula and Christchurch. There are walks from the summit, a cafe and restaurant and also a souvenir shop. It's worth going up for a look.
You can go to the Gondola place by taking a bus from City center. Pick the Bus time table flyer from the Tourist Information Office in the center.
The 945 metre Gondola ride gently lifts visitors, in the cabin which fits 4 person, almost 500 metres (1500 feet) above sea level.
Once up, you get the 360 degree views of Christchurch, the Canterbury Plains and Lyttelton Harbour, on the crater rim of Christchurch's famous extinct volcano.
Upthere, they have souvenir shop, a cafe, The Gondola Restaurant and a Heritage Time Tunnel.
The Heritage Time Tunnel made you travel back to a time long past to discover the fascinating history and geological evolution of the Banks Peninsula region. Be amazed by volcanic eruptions, Maori mythology, and life on board an early settlers' ship.
If you want to experience Romantic Dining, you can reserve a table at the Gondola Restaurant and go there at night. It's quite an experience.
Christchurch's Gondola sits on top of Mt Cavendish, to the southeast of the city. On a clear days it offers fantastic views over Christchurch, Lyttelton Harbour, the Canterbury Plains and inland towards the Southern Alps. We decided to take a trip up at sunset on our first evening in NZ. We got up there about an hour before dark, which gave us time to do a short walk around the top of the area, and allowed us to take in the stunning views. Although the cafe was shutting as we arrived there's also a restaurant, should you wish to eat while enjoying the sunset. It's a bit pricey there though, so we didn't bother with this. There's also a little museum - the Heritage Time Tunnel, which describes the history of the area, from how it was formed to the arrival of the Maoris and later the Europeans. We found this really interesting and thought it was very well presented. Return tickets cost $18 for adults and $8 for children aged 5-15 and the Gondola runs daily from 10am - 9pm.
Few ways to get to the gandola
Either get the normal bus which goes up around the site where it starts so you can't miss the stop or pay and get one of the tourist buses that takes you around all around the tourist sites. That bus isn't bad as you get a comentary of the area as you go
The way up is a bit unnerving for people not comfortable with heights as the carriage is a wee bit shakey and it stops every now and then.
The view when you get to the top is beautiful. I would advise you to go just as it is getting dark so you can see Christchurch as night.
There is a wee museum at the top whcih takes you through the Maori legend of how the mountains came to be and the history of the people who emigrated
Enjoy a fantastic 360 degree view of Christchurch, the Alps, Lyttelton Harbour and the Port Hills.
Eat at the cafe.
Shop at the souvenir store.
Visit the mini-exhibition ("time-tunnel") on how the Banks Peninsula was formed.
Walk down the Bridle Path to Lyttelton and take the bus home if you don't want to take the Gondola down again.
Or, take the bus to Lyttelton, walk up the Bridle Path, and take the Gondola down.
Time needed: approximately 3-4 hours for an enjoyable trip.
Take the Gondola up to the top of the Port Hills.
Lovely walk around the extinct volcano.
Great views of Lyttelton harbour.
For a great aerial views of Lyttleton Harbour this is the place to go. It was cloudy the day we went but the view was stunning anywhere.