Southeast of Christchurch are the prominent Port Hills, which slope down to the city’s port at Lyttelton Harbour. Christchurch’s first European settlers landed here in 1850 to embark on their historic trek over the hills.
Lyttelton was badly damaged during the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, and many of the town's heritage buildings along London St were subsequently demolished. Also fatally damaged was the neogothic Timeball Station (www.timeball.co.nz), built in 1876, and where for 58 years a huge time-ball was hoisted on a mast and then dropped at exactly 1pm Greenwich Mean Time. This allowed ships in Lyttelton Harbour to set their clocks and thereby accurately calculate longitude.
Following the earthquakes, Lyttelton has re-emerged as one of Christchurch's most interesting and resilient communities. The town's artsy, independent and bohemian vibe is stronger than ever, and it's again becoming a hub for good bars, cafes and restaurants. It's well worth catching the bus from Christchurch and getting immersed in the local scene.
From Lyttelton, ferries and boat cruises provide access to sheltered Quail Island, as well as to sleepy Diamond Harbour. See www.blackcat.co.nz for details.
If you’ve got your own transport, the harbour road wends a scenic 15-minute route to pretty Governors Bay, with a couple of good spots for lunch.
The Lyttelton visitor information centre has accommodation and transport information.