"The History of the Tunnels" Top 5 Page for this destination Lyttelton Transportation Tip by Kakapo2
Lyttelton Transportation: 5 reviews and 6 photos
When the pioneers settled in Canterbury, railway constructions in England had just reached their boom time. A tunnel would have solved the problem of getting the bulky luggage from the port in Lyttelton to Christchurch city. In the early days this was ferried around Godley Head to Ferrymead, and many rafts capsized and the goods were lost.
Although Christchurch did not even have a railway, the extremely costly tunnel project (200,000 pounds at the end) went ahead.
Work began in 1860, but the English contractors gave up when they struck the extremely hard volcanic rock. So an Australian contractor was hired, and his men started work at the Heathcote end of the tunnel in July 1861.
The two ends, one coming from Lyttelton and the other from Heathcote, met exactly as planned on 24 May 1867, when an iron rod was passed through. On 10 June 1867 people walked through the 2.7 km long tunnel. It was officially opened for passenger traffic on 9 December 1867. It took less than seven minutes to make the trip through the hill. It was New Zealand's first rail tunnel, and for many years the longest. It was the first tunnel in the world to be driven through the side of an extinct volcano.
By the time the tunnel opened, Christchurch had a railway. In April 1863 the Pilgrim, a broad-gauge locomotive, had arrived from Melbourne. A line was built from the wharf to Ferrymead, and on 1 December 1863, New Zealand's first passenger line opened. The railway station was on Moorhouse Ave (which got its name later).
It took another 101 (a hundred and one!) years until a two-lane road tunnel connected Christchurch and Lyttelton. It was opened in February 1964. Before then, all road traffic went over Evans Pass (which is the scenic road from Lyttelton to Sumner, along the harbour). In the early years motorists had to pay tolls to help cover the cost of the tunnel. Now the toll plaza is used by police for alcohol controls, as there is absolutely no escape way for motorists who have had one or more drinks too many.
Type: Car/Motor Home
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