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10 Best Things to Do in Lyttelton

© ChristchurchNZ

What to Do in Lyttelton: The South Island’s Largest Port

Through the historic Lyttelton Tunnel or over the scenic Dyers Pass lies the cool harbour settlement of Lyttelton. Its eroded volcanic geography offers some different scenery to what’s found in Christchurch, making Lyttelton a popular day trip from the city for visitors. Not only does the town offer fantastic eateries and boutique shopping, but there are plenty of active adventures to be had, from hiking in the Port Hills to exploring the intriguing Quail Island. Find out what you could be getting up to with this list of things to do in Lyttelton!

1. Spend a Day at the Beach at Corsair Bay

One of Lyttelton’s picturesque beaches, Corsair Bay is a sheltered bay ideal for swimming in the summer months. There are coastal walking tracks to the neighbouring Cass Bay and Magazine Bay. Or simply enjoy a picnic here.

Location: Park Terrace, 2.5 km (1.6 mil) west of Lyttelton.

8 Best Things to Do in Lyttelton© ChristchurchNZ

2. Check Out the Lyttelton Farmers Market

Experience a real Kiwi farmers market at the fantastic Lyttelton Farmers Market happening every Saturday. Buy fresh local produce, try delicious treats and experience the buzzing atmosphere. See more markets across the Christchurch area in the 26 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch.

Location: London Street

Nancy Zhou - ChristchurchNZ© Nancy Zhou - ChristchurchNZ

3. Sample Great Food and Drinks at the Lyttelton Eateries

Christchurch locals often come to Lyttelton just to visit the amazing cafes and restaurants! See what all the fuss is about by treating yourself to tapas at Civil and Naval, delight in seafood freshly caught only a few kilometres away at Fisherman’s Wharf, dine on Asian-fusion cuisine made with fresh local organic ingredients at SUPER, get panoramic harbour views from the rooftop deck along with your locally crafted beer at Eruption Brewing, and enjoy the views over the harbour at Lyttelton Coffee Company! See more activities like this in the 10 Foodie Experiences in Christchurch.

Location: All over Lyttelton! Civil and Naval – 16 London Street. Fisherman’s Wharf – 39 Norwich Quay. SUPER – 5 Norwich Quay. Eruption Brewing – 26 London Street. Lyttelton Coffee Company – 29 London Street.

Nancy Zhou - ChristchurchNZ© Nancy Zhou - ChristchurchNZ

4. Take a Ferry to Quail Island

Quail Island (Ōtamahua) is a fascinating little island brimming with history. It was once used to quarantine immigrants and animals coming to New Zealand. It also held a leprosy colony, as well as being the base for Scott and Shackleton to train their sled-dogs and ponies for their Antarctic exhibitions. There are many walks and great swimming spots on the island, so take a picnic and enjoy a great day out. Catch the ferry from the Lyttelton Wharf departing daily.

Location: Lyttelton Wharf.©

5. Enjoy a Day Trip to Governors Bay

Further along the Lyttelton Harbour is the attractive little community of Governers Bay. The bay offers wonderful views down the harbour and has some great little cafes. From here, take the scenic Dyers Pass back to Christchurch city.

Location: Governers Bay Road, 9.5 km (6 mi) west of Lyttelton.

Bernard Spragg. NZ on Wikipedia © Bernard Spragg. NZ on Wikipedia

6. Explore the Port Hills

Lyttelton is one of the hubs for exploring the famous Port Hills of Christchurch. There are a number of walks to enjoy with open expansive views across the harbour and over to the city. Try the Bridle Path (2-hour return) from Bridal Path Road or enjoy a scenic 10-minute ride up the Christchurch Gondola (more info on Viator and Klook) up to the Crater Summit.

Location: Access via Bridle Path, Cornwall Road, Ross Terrace, Brenchley Road and more.

8 Best Things to Do in Lyttelton© ChristchurchNZ

7. Take a Ferry to Diamond Bay

More delightful views of the Lyttelton Harbour can be seen from Diamond Bay, named after its sparkling waters. Either enjoy a scenic coastal drive to the Diamond Harbour or take the ferry from Lyttelton Wharf. Once there, check out the local art galleries and cafes, or if you’re feeling more active, there’s a great deal of walking trails to explore. Check out ferry timetables over at Public Transport in Christchurch: A Guide to Buses, Ferries & More.

Location: Charters Bay Road, 25 km (15.5 mi) drive from Lyttelton or a short ferry ride from the Lyttelton Wharf.

10 Best Things to Do in Lyttelton© ChristchurchNZ

8. See the Iconic Lyttelton Timball Station

An unusual sight in Lyttelton, the Timeball Station is a restored piece of maritime history. Timeball stations were once important visual signals in many of the world’s ports, allowing ships’ chronometers to navigate accurately. Time your visit for 1 pm to see the station drop its ball. Otherwise, enjoy the views of the harbour from its raised position.

Location: 2 Reserve Terrace.

8 Best Things to Do in Lyttelton© ChristchurchNZ

9. Visit the Torpedo Boat Museum

Housed in the Old Power Magazine Building, the Torpedo Boat Museum is another opportunity to marvel at Lyttelton’s maritime history. Check out a partly restored 1885 torpedo boat and the steam engine that once powered it. There are also scale models and a documentary to explain how these boats functioned. The museum is open on Sunday from 1-3 pm.

Location: 19/32 Park Terrace.

10 Best Things to Do in Lyttelton©

10. Walk, Mountain Bike, Camp and Eat at Orton Bradley Park

A private park (so, yes, there is a small entry fee), Orton Bradley Park is a working farm with a whole lot of walking trails, mountain biking trails, history and yummy goodness. Walk or cycle among exotic trees and a waterfall and check out the historic stone cottage complete with a working sawmill and waterwheel. Pack a picnic or sit down at the Orton Bradley Cafe, which is renowned for its pizzas. Note that the park closes for the lambing season and the cafe closes for winter. For more places to camp, check out Where to Camp in Christchurch.

Location: Charteris Bay, approximately 21 km (13 mi) south of Lyttelton.

10 Best Things to Do in Lyttelton©

More Things to Do Near Lyttelton

That’s it for the best things to do in Lyttelton. Now extend the experiences to things to do nearby with these lists:

Finally, find more activities for your travels in the 51 Best Things to Do in the South Island.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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