The Port Hills is a great location for scenic day walks that aren't too physically demanding. We have listed a few of our favourites to choose from.
Port Hills Day Walks
Harry Ell Walkway – 3km, 45 minutes (one way)
Start this fun track from the Sign of the Takahe where you join the well formed path above the left side of the road. The walkway is named after a Canterbury legend, Harry Ell who played a significant role in stopping the closure of the Port Hills tracks and who passed the scenery preservation bill in 1903 which now a days allows us to explore these stunning nature reserves.
This gradual hill brings you to Victoria Park and continues on up to the top of Summit Road. Stop and take in the incredible views overlooking Christchurch and on a clear day, the snowy mountain backdrop (Southern Alps). 100 meters up the road you will see the Sign of the Kiwi Café which is a great place for a light refreshment before heading back down the Harry Ell track to where you began.
Mitchells and Gilpins loop track – 1.8km, 30mins
For an extended walk, from the sign of the Kiwi, cross over Dyers Pass Road to find Mitchells Track which takes you on a short walk to a beautiful view point overlooking Governors Bay. Further up where the track meets a junction, take the sharp left switch back to continue on Gilpins Track which will lead you back to Sign of the Kiwi Café.
Rapaki Track – 7km, 2 hours return
If you’re an early riser this track is great to do first thing to catch the morning sun and stunning still views over Banks Peninsula. It is best to park at the bottom of Rapaki Road or along Centaurus Road to avoid the awkward maneuver at the top of the narrow street. Walk up Rapaki Road which continues on through the gate to Rapaki Track.
This track is well pathed and suitable for off-road prams. Keep dogs on a leash as there is the odd rogue sheep on the track.
The path is wide but keep to the left as mountain bikers do make the most of the downhill run. Following the tops of the Vernon Valley, it is a gradual uphill walk until you hit the last 1km of what looks like a calf cramper … keep going! The view at the top is well worth it.
Ahuriri – Crater Rim – Sign of the Bellbird – 8km, 3hours return
Starting at the Sign of the Bellbird, walk up Summit Road until you go over the cattle grid at Cass Peak Reserve; this is where you leave the road and join the trail.
Walking through beautiful lush native forest and along the grassy tops of the crater rim, you are spoilt with endless views of the surrounding peninsula and glistening blue harbour. Make sure to stop at Coopers Knob/Omaete lookout point. At 573m, you are at the highest point of the Port Hills and looking straight down at the breathtaking view of Lyttleton harbour.
Once you reach the carpark at Ahuriri Reserve, this is the end of the Crater Rim Track. From here you can return via the same track or Summit Road.
Awaroa/ Godley Head loop track – 8km, 3hours return
This is one of my most favourite day walks in the Port Hills. Walking around the stunning coastline makes me realise how lucky I am to call Christchurch home with the surrounding hills and beautiful coastline to explore.
Begin this walk from Taylors Mistake which is a great surfing and swimming beach. To the right of the beach you will see a bunch of old Kiwi style baches; The track starts here from where the sand meets a rocky set of steps up to the coastal trail.
This is a well formed track which provides views the whole way as you hug the coastline. Keep a look out for white flippered penguins and on the odd occasion Hector dolphins!
You will eventually reach the headlands where the remnants of the historic gun emplacement from WWII are still nestled in the side of the hill.
Further around the peninsula you will see sweeping views of Lyttleton harbour before the track drops down to Breeze Col. Below you from here is Breeze Bay, the track then heads inland and takes you back to Taylors Mistake beach/carpark. Cool down with a refreshing dip in the beautiful turquoise water which is patrolled by the local surf lifesaving team.