"Port Town" Top 5 Page for this destination Lyttelton by fishandchips

Lyttelton Travel Guide: 116 reviews and 320 photos

Historic Lyttelton

Lyttelton is the major port of the South Island of NZ and is the spot where many early settlers arrived before attempting the Bridle Path and new town of Christchurch. Captain Joseph Thomas cut the Bridle Path track in 1850 in preparation for the first load of settlers in December 1850. Although barely negotiable, the Bridle Path track became the main route over the Port Hills. Settlers had to carry their possessions on their backs until 1851 when the track was made passable for horses. At the base of the Bridle Path track in Heathcote Valley, a rough road extended to the mouth of the Heathcote River where ferry services got the settlers and their luggage across the Heathcote River at Ferrymead. The settlers then continued on their journey to Christchurch via Ferry Road.

Lyttelton has many historical icons including the Timeball station, old Lyttelton Gaol remains, the Signal Box and some wonderful old houses dating back to the 19th centuary.

Built by Convicts, full of Artist

Many of the roads and walls around Lyttelton were built by the residents of the Lyttelton Gaol. Apparently the convicts were roped together and went off to the different locations to do their hard labour. Probably most notable, and noticeable, is the Timeball station - built between 1875 & 76 by convicts (with a bit of help from the architect......)

The Gaol, incidently, is nothing more than a few steps and a rose garden within the surrounds of Lyttelton Main primary school.

Lyttelton is full of art and artists and has undergone a bit of a resurgence in the last 5 years as it has become a more popular place to live. Bars such as the Wunderbar and the British have been the mainstay of the town with the Habourlight Theatre providing a great location for a work-do.

Another Kiwi Film location

Lyttelton was the location of the 1996 Peter Jackson film 'The Frighteners'. This was his 5th movie and set just over the hill from his 4th movie - Heavenly Creatures. Several street scenes (including Jackson as a 'man with piercings') were done in London St (the main st) and up Canterbury St for some of the funeral processions. One of the Cemetery's also features. It's probably the only time you will see cars driving on the wrong side of the road (for NZ) but as it was supposed to be a small town in the USA quite understandable from a reality perspective.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Sea Air (no smog), beautiful views
  • Cons:few
  • In a nutshell:Historical port town that is now a quiet art town
  • Intro Updated Dec 31, 2005
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