New Zealand’s Most Epic Day Trip

Lyttelton Harbour is a hidden gem in New Zealand’s South Island, offering some of the most epic day trips in the country. The harbour is a natural wonder that boasts stunning landscapes, crystal clear waters, and a rich history that dates back centuries. Visitors can explore the hidden gems of Lyttelton Harbour and experience the beauty of New Zealand’s South Island.

A day trip to Lyttelton Harbour is an adventure that visitors will never forget. There are plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained, from hiking and swimming to exploring the historic landmarks and local culture. Visitors can catch a ferry from the Lyttelton Jetty, which departs daily through the summer and on weekends during April-September, and take a trip to Governors Bay, where they can enjoy a picnic and take in the breathtaking views. The harbour is also home to some of the best walks and swimming spots in the region, making it the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

History and Culture

Lyttelton Harbour has a rich history and culture, dating back to the arrival of European settlers in 1850. Today, it is a vibrant community with a unique character and charm.

European Settlers

Christchurch Art Gallery: John Gibb's 1886 view of Lyttelton Harbour ...
Lyttelton was the first port of call for European settlers arriving in Canterbury in the mid-19th century. The settlers landed at the port before trekking over the Port Hills to establish their new home in Christchurch. The town quickly grew into a bustling hub of activity, with many businesses and industries setting up shop in the area.

Leprosy Colony

Dr. Charles Upham with members of the Leprosy colony on Quail Island ...
In the early 1900s, a leprosy colony was established on nearby Quail Island. The colony was created to isolate and treat those suffering from the disease, which was highly stigmatized at the time. Today, the island is a popular spot for visitors, with many hiking trails and picnic areas to enjoy.

Throughout its history, Lyttelton Harbour has played an important role in the development of Canterbury and New Zealand as a whole. From its early days as a bustling port town to its current status as a popular tourist destination, the harbor has always been a hub of activity and innovation.

Some notable historical landmarks in the area include the Ohinetahi Homestead, which has one of New Zealand’s finest formal gardens, and the Lyttelton Harbour Board, which was established in 1877 and is now known as the Port Lyttelton Company.

Overall, Lyttelton Harbour is a fascinating destination for anyone interested in history and culture. With its unique blend of European and Maori influences, it offers a glimpse into the rich and diverse heritage of Canterbury and New Zealand.

Scenic Views and Beaches

Lyttelton Harbour offers some of the most breathtaking views and beaches in New Zealand. Here are some of the top spots to visit:

Quail Island

Quail Island: Lonely Lepers, Blissful Beaches & Tragic Ends - NZ Pocket ...
Quail Island is a hidden gem in Lyttelton Harbour. This small island is accessible by ferry from Lyttelton and offers stunning views of the harbour. Visitors can take a walk around the island, swim in the crystal-clear waters, or have a picnic on the beach.

Diamond Harbour

Diamond Harbour, Christchurch NZ | New zealand houses, Living in new ...
Diamond Harbour is a picturesque town located on the southern shores of Lyttelton Harbour. The town offers stunning views of the harbour and the surrounding hills. Visitors can take a walk along the beach, go for a swim, or enjoy a meal at one of the local restaurants.

Governors Bay

Governors Bay and Diamond Harbour, Christchurch - See the South Island ...
Governors Bay is a small town located on the western shores of Lyttelton Harbour. The town offers stunning views of the harbour and the surrounding hills. Visitors can take a walk along the beach, go for a swim, or enjoy a meal at one of the local restaurants.

Corsair Bay

Corsair Bay
Corsair Bay is a popular swimming spot located on the southern shores of Lyttelton Harbour. The beach is largely crushed shells with a rocky shoreline exposed at low tide. Visitors can also enjoy the playground, picnic tables, and toilets.

Magazine Bay

Magazine Bay, Maraetai, New Zealand
Magazine Bay is a secluded beach located on the eastern shores of Lyttelton Harbour. The beach is accessible by boat or by walking along the coastal track. Visitors can enjoy the crystal-clear waters, the rocky shoreline, and the stunning views of the harbour.

Overall, Lyttelton Harbour offers some of the most beautiful and picturesque views and beaches in New Zealand. Visitors can enjoy a day trip to explore the hidden gems of the harbour and take in the stunning scenery.

Activities and Tours

Lyttelton Harbour is a hidden gem that offers a range of activities and tours for tourists and locals alike. Whether you prefer to explore by ferry or bus, walk along scenic tracks, or challenge yourself with a fitness level, Lyttelton Harbour has it all. This section will cover some of the most popular activities and tours available in the area.

Ferry and Bus Tours

Lyttelton Harbour New Zealand | Harbour, Canal, New zealand
One of the best ways to explore Lyttelton Harbour is by taking a ferry or bus tour. The ferry tours offer a great way to see the beauty of the harbour from the water. The ferry tour takes you to Corsair Bay, Diamond Harbour, and Quail Island. The bus tours, on the other hand, take you to Godley Head, Whakaraupō, and other scenic spots around the harbour. Both ferry and bus tours are available from the Lyttelton Harbour Information Centre.

Walking Tracks

Lyttelton Harbour has a variety of walking tracks that cater to different fitness levels. The tracks range from easy to challenging, so there is something for everyone. The Harbour Cone Track is one of the most popular tracks in the area. It offers stunning views of the harbour and the surrounding hills. The track is suitable for all fitness levels and takes about two hours to complete. Other popular tracks include the Godley Head Track, the Rapaki Track, and the Whakaraupō Loop Track.

Fitness Levels

Activities & Tours | Lyttelton
Lyttelton Harbour has activities and tours that cater to all fitness levels. If you prefer a more relaxed pace, the ferry and bus tours are a great option. The walking tracks offer a range of difficulty levels, from easy to challenging. For those who want a more intense workout, there are fitness classes available at the Lyttelton Recreation Centre.


Lyttelton Harbour Cruise / Tour By Boat 9th Dec 2019 50FPS With ...
Navigating Lyttelton Harbour can be challenging, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area. It is important to have a map or GPS device to help you navigate. The Lyttelton Harbour Information Centre provides maps and other resources to help you plan your activities and tours. It is also recommended to check the weather conditions before embarking on any outdoor activities.


Farm Tour from Christchurch | Tour in Christchurch - Canterbury, New ...
There are a variety of tours available in Lyttelton Harbour. The Christchurch Sightseeing with Sheep Farm tour is a popular option for those who want to experience the city and the countryside. The tour includes a visit to a working sheep farm, dog mustering, sheep shearing, and afternoon tea. Other popular tours include the Lyttelton/Christchurch Gondola tour and the Jet Junkies tour.


The Best Markets in Christchurch, New Zealand
In addition to tours, there are many other activities available in Lyttelton Harbour. The Lyttelton Farmers Market is a great place to sample local produce and crafts. The Lyttelton Harbour Festival of Lights is a popular event that takes place every year in June. The festival features music, food, and light displays.

Lyttelton Harbour has something for everyone. Whether you prefer to explore by ferry or bus, walk along scenic tracks, or challenge yourself with a fitness level, you are sure to find an activity or tour that suits your interests and abilities.

Food and Drink

When it comes to food and drink in Lyttelton, visitors are spoiled for choice. The town is home to a variety of cafes and restaurants, as well as a bustling farmers market.

Cafes and Restaurants

Outside Dining, Christchurch, NZ - Neat Places
For those looking for a bite to eat, Lyttelton has plenty of options. Visitors can start their day with a coffee and breakfast at one of the town’s many cafes. For a casual lunch, there are several sandwich shops and bakeries in town. Those looking for a more formal dining experience can choose from a variety of restaurants, serving everything from Italian to Japanese cuisine.

One of the most popular restaurants in town is Cass Bay Kitchen. This cozy restaurant offers stunning views of the harbor and serves up delicious New Zealand cuisine. Another popular spot is Freemans Dining Room, which offers a more upscale dining experience.

Lyttelton Farmers Market

The 7 Best Farmers Markets in New Zealand - Wanderingcapes
Every Saturday from 10am to 1pm, the Lyttelton Farmers Market takes over London Street. This bustling market is a great place to sample local produce and artisanal goods. Visitors can stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade bread, and locally made cheese. There are also several food trucks on site, serving up everything from wood-fired pizza to gourmet burgers.

For those looking to enjoy a picnic, Magazine Bay is a great spot to relax and enjoy the views. Visitors can pick up some goodies from the farmers market and enjoy a leisurely lunch on the beach.

Attractions and Landmarks

Lyttelton Harbour is home to several attractions and landmarks that offer visitors a glimpse into the area’s rich history and culture. Here are some of the must-see places to visit during your trip:


A maritime marvel: Lyttelton Timeball Station - Metropol
One of the most iconic landmarks in Lyttelton Harbour is the Timeball Station. Built in 1876, the Timeball was used to help ships navigate the treacherous waters of the harbour. Today, visitors can tour the station and learn about its fascinating history.

Information Centre

Lyttelton Harbour Information Centre | Lyttelton
The Lyttelton Information Centre is a great place to start your visit to the harbour. Here, you can pick up maps and brochures, as well as get advice from knowledgeable staff about the best places to visit and things to do.

Albion Square

Albion Square, Lyttelton | Projects | Boffa Miskell
Located in the heart of Lyttelton, Albion Square is a charming public space that features beautiful gardens, benches, and a fountain. It’s a great place to relax and take in the sights and sounds of the harbour.


Throughout the year, Albion Square hosts a variety of events and performances on its outdoor stage. From live music to theatre productions, there’s always something happening in this vibrant community space.

Seating Area

For those looking to take a break and enjoy the views of the harbour, the seating area in Albion Square is the perfect spot. With benches and tables scattered throughout the square, visitors can sit back and enjoy the scenery while sipping on a coffee or enjoying a picnic lunch.


Families with children will love the playground in Albion Square. Featuring swings, slides, and climbing structures, it’s a great place for kids to burn off some energy while parents relax nearby.

Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or just want to relax and enjoy the scenery, the attractions and landmarks of Lyttelton Harbour have something for everyone.

Nearby Destinations

Lyttelton Harbour is not only a beautiful place to visit, but it is also surrounded by several other destinations that are worth exploring. Some of the nearby destinations that visitors can explore include Akaroa and Banks Peninsula.


Akaroa is a charming town located on the Banks Peninsula, about an hour’s drive from Lyttelton Harbour. The town is known for its French heritage, and visitors can explore the colonial architecture and enjoy the French-inspired cuisine. One of the most popular activities in Akaroa is taking a dolphin watching tour, where visitors can see the endangered Hector’s dolphins up close.

In addition to dolphin watching, visitors can also enjoy hiking, kayaking, and cycling in Akaroa. There are several trails that offer stunning views of the town and the surrounding landscape. The Akaroa Museum is also worth a visit, as it showcases the town’s history and culture.

Overall, Akaroa is a great destination for visitors who want to experience a charming town with a unique culture and enjoy outdoor activities.

Banks Peninsula

Banks Peninsula is a stunning natural wonder that is located just a short drive from Lyttelton Harbour. The peninsula is known for its rugged coastline, picturesque bays, and scenic hiking trails. Visitors can explore the peninsula by hiking, cycling, or driving along the scenic routes.

One of the most popular destinations on Banks Peninsula is the Pohatu Penguin Habitat, where visitors can see the endangered little penguins up close. The habitat also offers guided tours of the area, where visitors can learn about the penguins and their habitat.

Other popular activities on Banks Peninsula include swimming, fishing, and kayaking. There are also several scenic drives that offer stunning views of the peninsula and the surrounding landscape.

Overall, Banks Peninsula is a great destination for visitors who want to experience the natural beauty of New Zealand and enjoy outdoor activities.

Art and Culture

Lyttelton Harbour is not only a place of natural beauty but also a hub of art and culture. The town is home to several art galleries that showcase the works of local and international artists.

Art Galleries

One of the most popular galleries in Lyttelton is the Project Space, which features contemporary art from both emerging and established artists. The gallery hosts regular exhibitions, talks, and workshops, making it a hub of artistic activity in the town.

Another notable gallery is the Lyttelton Arts Factory, which is housed in a beautifully restored historic building. The gallery features a range of art forms, including painting, sculpture, photography, and ceramics. The Arts Factory also hosts live music events, theatre performances, and film screenings, making it a vibrant cultural center in the town.

For those interested in Maori art, the Toi Tangata Māori Art Gallery is a must-visit. The gallery showcases a range of traditional and contemporary Maori art, including carvings, paintings, and jewelry. Visitors can also learn about Maori culture and history through the gallery’s interactive exhibits.

Overall, Lyttelton Harbour’s art and culture scene is diverse and vibrant, with something to offer for everyone. Whether you’re a seasoned art enthusiast or simply looking for a unique cultural experience, the town’s art galleries are definitely worth checking out.

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