Earthquake update June 2010
Sumner has been hard hit by the February earthquake, and again on 13 June. The areas on top and at the bottom of the cliffs have either crumbled, with a house finally crashing down the cliff, or have been hit by huge rocks. Two or three people died in their houses in February.
However, an incredible lot of cafés, restaurants and even the Hollywood cinema are open. A walk along the the promenade (Scarborough Beach) is still nice on a sunny day.
Just do not get anywhere near the cliffs and respect the tapes, fences and containers that cordon off the danger zones.
Do not step into the water as it is contaminated with raw sewerage, and if you walk on the beach, keep your shoes on.
Sumner is the finest seaside suberb of Christchurch but also the most crowded. Probably for just this reason.
It is a bit not really NZ like, with the contradiction of the lots of pohutukawas lining the promenade. Especially this promenade is like tamed NZ, with its fine stone wall separating the walkway from the parking cars. But still it is nice to walk there along the surf beach with its wild waves.
On one side the beach ends at a sheer bluff on which the very flash suberb of Scarborough is sitting, there are a pool, toilets and changing rooms, and some metres further a nice stone clock tower. If you drive up the steep road to Scarborough and down the hill again you reach the very nice but small beach of Taylor's Mistake. You can also climb up this bluff, you just have to walk some metres inland at the end of the beach, and you will find a path sign-posted.
At the other end is the unique Cave Rock to climb on. This big rock separates the surf beach from the swimming beach which can be rather crowded - if we ever get summer... LOL (written mid Feb. 2007). The area near the rock is inundated with cafés and restaurant, so you can indulge in the slightly Mediterranean seaside feeling.
In this area and a little bit further towards the city centre you might spot a lot of interesting sea and wading birds, as the Avon and Heathcote rivers which flow into the sea in Sumner, the lagoon between Sumner and New Brighton, called The Spit, and the adjacent wetlands attract all those birds, including the much-loved godwits, stilts, oystercatchers, shags and a lot more.
Another rock - Shag Rock - towards the city centre marks the end of Sumner beach. If you walk back to Sumner you pass impressive rock caves in which once moa bones were found.
Between Sumner and Redcliffs (towards the city centre) is a walk to an interesting cave. It starts near Moncks Spur Road, right beside the coastal road, at Barnett Park. It is a round trip at an elevated level with good views along both sides of the valley. It takes 1 to 1.5hrs.
Enjoy a stroll along Scarborough Esplanade and you're sure to see the impressive stone Clock Tower in Scarborough Park. Only meters from the ocean, this is the ideal location from where to watch the kids play ball in the calm water while their parents read, relax or sunbathe on the concrete and stone steps leading down to the water.
Turning left along Heberden Avenue provides good views across the water back towards Scarborough and Sumner Beach towards Cave Rock. Lots of locals taking advantage of plentiful parking to enjoy their fish and chips for lunch.
This clock tower, like the New Brighton one, was completed in 1935 and can be found down the end of Scarborough beach by the small reserve. This is a usful landmark as you go down the prominard from cave Rock and it has a swimming pool and playground in behind it as well as a nice grassed area for picnics. During Summer it is often surrounded by the cars of surfers who are looking for the next set to get on. Just up the road is Taylors Mistake with the start of Whitewash Head Rd also nearby.
Sumner has undergone a beautiful transition over the last 15 years and is now a thriving place. The mainstay of Sumner is its beach and the small main street with a nice old movie theatre and food options. Along the beach is Cave Rock and further down you get to Scarborough with its small park and kids pool.
If you carry on and turn left you start to go up a hill and takes you to Taylers Mistake (a distant relative of mine) which is more the grommit's paradise with a big surfy crowd - hang 10 dude.
Seaside suburb of Christchurch (15 minutes from City Centre)
Here there are safe swimming beaches,a village atmosphere with cafés, restaurants etc
10 minutes to Lyttelton marina.
Superb view across Pegasus Bay to Southern Alps (100 miles)
Hill and beach walks.
Like a Scottish castle dominating the scenic port of Lyttelton, the Timeball Station is one of the few of its kind left in the world.
From 1876 to 1934 a ball dropped from its mast on its stone tower, signalling the time to ships in Lyttelton Harbour. Visual time signals were important features of many of the world's ports, being necessary to correct ships' chronometers and ensure accurate navigation. The timeball apparatus came from the well-known German firm Siemens Bros, and the astronomical clock from Edward Dent & Co. of London, who had made the Big Ben clock. Use of the timeball was discontinued in 1934 when it was replaced by radio signals, though flag signals continued until 1941. The flags, which predated the Timeball Station, were used on the flagstaff nearby to signal to ships and to communicate shipping advice to the town.
A fine example of Victorian technology, the Timeball Station is today one of only five in the world known to be still in working order.
These fellas are funny to watch as they race about the Rock you see as you go around the tight bend on your approach to Sumner from the CHCH end.