Banks Peninsula – Exploring Lyttelton

Taylor Curtis

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A 15 minute drive from Christchurch’s CBD, Lyttelton leads you to a world away from the buzzing city. Driving through the tunnel transports you to a unique little village along the hills of the sea side. Its calm and peaceful vibes radiate from the village, while the quirky shops on the main street mirror those of our capital, Wellington. The historical port is visible from almost any street on the main hill due to its unique layout.

If you want a quick escape, Lyttelton is the place to go.

History/Culture

Banks Peninsula is a volcanic island, built of lava from two large craters situated in the Lyttelton and Akaroa Harbours. Historically, Lyttelton was inhabited by Maori for around 700 years. On the 16th of February 1770, during the Endeavour’s first voyage to New Zealand, early European settlers discovered Lyttelton Harbour and occupied the land. Since this discovery, Lyttelton has been historically regarded as the “Gateway to Canterbury” for colonial settlers.

Formerly called Port Cooper, Port Lyttelton was named in honour of George William Lyttelton who led the colonisation of the area. Lyttelton was chosen by the Church of England as a suitable port to inhabit. This was due to the availability of large flat land on the other side of the port hills, which we now know as Christchurch and the Canterbury Plains. Its history is rich and holds much significance to the city of Christchurch.

 

Food

Photo Credit: Taylor Curtis

Lyttelton offers a range of food that’s sure to fit you and your friends needs. Usually it’s a mare to find top notch vegetarian and vegan eateries, but not when you stumble across the Shroom Room. They have a menu that satisfies everyone’s taste buds, matched with a chill alternative vibe that offers you an oasis away from Christchurch.

Another outstanding place to find something to eat is the SUPER restaurant. It’s a great place to grab lunch and share a plate of Asian fusion inspired food with family and friends. Offering tofu burgers that are to die for, you can eat this perched out in the sun or cozy up inside while watching the hum of the harbour.

Corsair Bay little boats. Shot by Kendra Van de Geest.

Things to do

If you’re ever looking for a Saturday morning activity, then try out Lyttelton’s Bridle path walk. Starting off near the Gondola, make your way up the hill. It’s sure to get your lungs and legs feeling the burn, but can easily be settled by the breath-taking view of land meeting sea. Going down is a lot easier, especially when you’re heading back to a cold brew or freshly made smoothie as a reward. If your heart rate won’t thank you, your taste buds and endorphins sure will.

Lyttelton also offers a humming market every Saturday morning, bringing the locals to the streets with their individual style and homemade treats. If you’re looking for organic, raw ingredients to colour your pantry, then the boutique Harbour Co-op is where you will find them.

When it hits warmer weather, Lyttelton has its own hidden swimming spots scattered around the coastline. You can jump off the wharf in Magazine Bay, or kayak around Corsair and Governors Bay. If you’re looking to do something different, then join the Naval Point Club where they offer water activities including paddle boarding, jet skiing, boating and the chance to hit the water in a Waka.

Lyttelton is a world away, yet right by your doorstep. It’s a unique village filled with history and culture, providing a great escape for when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the city buzz. This versatile destination will be sure to provide some form of pleasure for everyone.