Godley Cliffs

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The Godley Leg of the Christchurch 360 Trail runs from just below the Mt Cavendish Gondola upper station to the seaside suburb Sumner.

The track is approximately 16.1 km long, and could take a typical walker as much as 10.5 hrs.

Evans Pass and the Godley Head carpark split the trail into approximate thirds, if you want to break a bit off the leg to make it easier to complete in a day.

Description of Route

You can find a Google Map of the route here.

The track starts just to the east of the Gondola upper station on Mt Cavendish, at a carpark on the Summit Road. If you choose to ride the Gondola up Mt Cavendish, there is a short zig-zag track down from the top station to the carpark and the start of this leg of the Christchurch 360 Trail.

Lyttleton Harbour from the Crater Rim Walkway

Lyttleton Harbour from the Crater Rim Walkway

From this start point, there are four tracks, so be careful to select the correct one. The defined route for this leg of the Christchurch 360 Trail is the currently unnamed mixed-use cycling and walking route that goes over the top of Mt Pleasant. You will also see the Crater Rim Walkway route to the west, leading back up Mt Cavendish to the Gondola top station. That is the path for the Sugarloaf section which ends at this point, and if you are doing the Sugarloaf section in reverse, then that is the one you would take. There is also the Crater Rim Walkway route to the east, which takes a high route under the bluffs. This is an alternative route you might like to take, though it is more treacherous than the defined route for the Christchurch 360 Trail. It rejoins the Christchurch 360Trail near the Mt Pleasant anti-aircraft gun emplacements. Do not take the Major Hornbrook/Cavendish Bluffs track which leads away to the south. This takes you back to the Bridle Path or down into Lyttelton.

Follow the route over Mt Pleasant to the east until you reach Broadleaf Lane, turn right and head up the access road to the radio site buildings. The track will take you right under the easternmost of the two larger antennas.

Continue on down the hill to until you get to a farm track. Turn right to the gun emplacements, before following the Crater Rim Walkway path to the Evan’s Pass saddle intersection.

From Evans Pass, follow the trail that runs along the line of the ridge towards Godley Head, south of the Summit Road. The Crater Rim Walkway brings you to the Godley Head Carpark, where you have the option to explore around one of the tracks leading off around Godley Head. Here you will find toilet facilities.

Diamond Harbour from the Crater Rim Walkway

Diamond Harbour from the Crater Rim Walkway

To continue on the Christchurch 360 Trail from the Godley Head carpark, cross the road and climb the stile to head north on the Godley Head Walkway. This takes you through Boulder Bay, and around to Taylors Mistake beach.

At Taylors Mistake, there are public toilet facilities. You will find the trail leading off from near the Surf Lifesaving Club. It heads north along a track called the Coastal Taylors Mistake Track, between the holiday homes, or “baches”. Do not take the right fork down to Hobsons Bay, keep left and make your way around the headland. You will cross a field with a gate at either end; please ensure you close these gates, as the field is used for grazing stock. Shortly after the second gate, the track heads west through a reserve to the Taylors Mistake Road. The original route straight through and around Whitewash Heads is not able to be used since the earthquakes.

Follow the Taylors Mistake Road to the top of Scarborough Hill, and Nicholson Park. Please take care, as the road here is narrow and there is a section without a footpath. Take the track down through Nicholson Park to meet the Flowers Track, and follow this to the bottom of the hill. Cross Scarborough Road and walk down Heberden Ave. The Godley Cliffs leg of the Christchurch 360 Trail ends at the Scarborough Park at the end of The Esplanade, where there are public toilet facilities, a cafe, and a children’s playground.

The next leg on the journey is the Estuary Leg, starting from this same location.

Access Points

You need not tackle the entire leg in one go, if you do not have the time or the strength. There are several shorter sections within the leg with access from the road network. Between each access point is an estimate for the duration required to walk the section.

Start: Major Hornbrook Saddle, below and to the east of the Gondola top station. There is a car park on the Summit Road at Major Hornbrook Saddle just below and to the east of the Gondola. If you decide to ride the Gondola, car parking is available at the Gondola lower station, and the Crater Rim track descends from the Gondola to the start point; allow an extra 10 mins walking time in addition to the 10 minute ride up the Gondola.

1.2km 50 mins

Broadleaf Lane: There is a carpark at the top and the bottom of Broadleaf Lane.

3.1km 2 hrs

Evans Pass: The trail crosses the road at Evans Pass. There is a car park at the saddle.

2.5km 1 hr 45 mins

Carpark above Livingston Bay: Before the track reaches the Godley Head car park, the track meets the road in two places, each with sufficient off-road space to park your vehicle. This is the first, the next is at Breeze Col.

1.5km 1 hr

Breeze Col, the second car park east of Evans Pass:

1.7km 1 hr 10 mins

Godley Head car park: There is ample car parking and a picnic area, as well as toilet facilities.

3.6km 2 hrs 30 mins

Taylors Mistake: There is a very large car park that caters to the crowds that flock to Taylors Mistake in summer.

1.9km 1 hr 15 mins

Nicholson Park: There is car parking in Searidge Lane adjacent to Nicholson Park.

1.1km 45 mins

End: The Esplanade, Sumner, near the clock tower. There is car parking along The Esplanade.

Hazards

Traffic: The Christchurch 360 Trail passes alongside some narrow rural roads; keep alert for traffic that may pass by when you are on such roads. There are places where it is necessary to cross roads. Please use caution at all times around traffic.

Cycles: The Christchurch City Council will not allow us to promote the Christchurch 360 as a cycling route, because a route promoted as a cycling route might be perceived by some users as having an implied suitability for cycling that could reduce their level of safety awareness, and as the Christchurch 360 Trail does not follow streets that meet standards required for cycleways, cyclists may be exposed to unacceptable risks. Because of that, we are not permitted to mark or recommend a cycle route option for the Christchurch 360. If you choose of your own initiative to follow the Christchurch 360 on your bike, please ride safely and responsibly, and follow the road rules.

Rockfall Hazard sign

Rockfall Hazard sign. Photo credit: Jeremy Taylor

Rockfall: Several points on the trail are subject to the risk of rockfall. The chances of rockfall that could injure you are small, but it would be wise to not linger in areas with rocky bluffs above the trail. Move as swiftly through these areas as you can, and if you are concerned about the risk of rockfall, take an alternate route.

Bluffs: The trail passes near bluffs. There are spectacular vistas from these spots, but please exercise caution around the edges of cliffs, especially when the wind is blustery.

Mountain Bikers: Some of the trails are shared-use with walkers and cyclists. Check signage to see if cycles or walkers have right-of-way. Note that even if cycles are expected to give way to walkers, sometimes this is easier said than done; please exercise caution and show consideration to other track users.

Dehydration: There are few opportunities to obtain fluids on the summit of the Port Hills, and it can be especially hot in summer. Ensure you pack sufficient water for the journey.

Hypothermia/Exposure: You will rarely be very far from civilisation, so the risk of severe hypothermia is low. However the weather can change quickly, so carrying a windbreaker or raincoat is sensible.

Onga onga

Tree Nettle. Photo credit: Jeremy Taylor

Tree Nettle: Also called Onga onga and formally named Urtica ferox, this native nettle appears in a number of places on the trail. The grey-green leaves are elongated with very serrated edges, with distinctive waxy needles rising from the leaf and thickly along the stems. It grows as a woody shrub, at times to the size of a small tree. Tree Nettle will inflict a nasty sting causing a burning sensation and numbness, rash and blisters.  In cases of significant contact, after about quarter of an hour the burning sensation and numbness can progress to abdominal cramping, blurred vision, and within an hour the symptoms can progress to sweating and salivating, breathing problems, even difficulty walking and loss of vision. There is only one record of a fatality from being stung by Tree Nettle, but many people have become quite ill for two or three days after being stung. It is wise to avoid contact. Treat stings with soap and water as soon as possible. Use cold compresses for relief, and antihistamines to counteract symptoms of itching and swelling, or hydrocortisone cream to reduce inflammation.

Bears:

Lions:

Coyotes:

Snakes:

Poisonous Spiders:

Crocodiles:

Come on, this is New Zealand. It is one of the safest places to go for a walk in the hills, anywhere in the world.

Things to see

The Anti-Aircraft Gun Emplacements

West of Mt Pleasant are the historic Mt Pleasant Heavy Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battery emplacements, part of Fort Lyttelton, remnants of the domestic preparations for defence during WWII. There are four gun emplacements built above ground,  for 3.7″ HAA guns, and an underground command post bunker. The guns were mounted in the centre of their structures, ammunition was stored in magazine lockers around each gun. Originally, there was a camp on the north slopes with 91 buildings, housing the soldiers of the 83rd Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery, stores, messes, and other military facilities. It was in operation for 21 months in 1943 and 1944, but was never called on to fire upon hostile targets.

Gollans Bay Quarry

As you descend the hill towards Evan’s Pass, to the east you can see the stepped levels of the Gollans Bay Quarry, owned by the Lyttelton Port Company. Rock from this quarry has been used to form quays and other port structures.

Captain Thomas Memorial

Capt. Joseph Thomas was Chief Surveyor for the Canterbury Association, the company that arranged for the first immigrants from the UK.

View to Ripapa Island

Look across the harbour to the island just off the headland due south of Evans Pass. A former Maori pā, prior to the 1880s, it was used as a quarantine station for ships entering Lyttelton Harbour. In the 1880s, the quarantine buildings were repurposed as a prison, notably for Parihaka Maori who had engaged in passive resistance to the confiscation of their lands in Taranaki. With the arrival of World War I, there was a concern for Russian invasion, and Ripapa Island was again repurposed, this time as Fort Jervois. It was again militarized at the start of World War II. One of the guns on the island is still functional, though no ammunition exists for the weapon any longer. The island is now managed by the Department of Conservation, but it access is currently prevented because of earthquake damage.

Otokitoki Pā site

Between the two places where the track meets the  Summit Rd between Evans Pass and the Godley Head carpark is the historical site of the Otokitoki pa.

View to Camp Bay

Look across the harbour to the small bay due south of the Godley Head car park. This was a quarantine station and cemetery for early settlers.

View to Little Port Cooper

Look across the harbour to the last bay before the headlands of Adderley Heads. This bay was home to a whaling station in the 1830s.

Taylors Mistake Beach

This beautiful swimming and surf beach is home to the historic Taylors Mistake Baches, holiday homes built mostly in the early part of the 20th century. These were officially sanctioned structures, unlike some other baches around our coastline. Still, the existence of these iconic holiday homes has come under threat, especially in the 1970s and 1980s. None of the baches built into the caves remain, having been destroyed by fire under council orders in 1979. Visit the Taylors Mistake Baches website for further information about these quaint, quirky, and iconic homes.

There are stories about how Taylors Mistake came to be named; there are not one but two historic beachings of ships under the command of Captains named Taylor, the Volga, in 1858 and the Catherine, in 1864. There is a claim that the name predates either of these events however, and the real reason for the name may be lost to history.

Note that Taylors Mistake has an obviously missing apostrophe. This is intentional; the NZ Geographic Board established a policy of not using hyphens and apostrophes in place names. Only two places in NZ have apostrophes: Hawke’s Bay, due to the use of the use of the apostrophe in historic early statutes, and Arthur’s Pass, because of a furore over the loss of their apostrophe.

Taylors Mistake is a lovely place for a swim in summer,  but note that dangerous rips may be present, so follow the advice and direction of the surf lifeguards.

Nicholson Park & Flowers Track

Nicholson Park has swings with some of the best views you’ll get anywhere. Flowers Track zig-zags down the hill towards Sumner Beach.

Thanks to Peter Hansen for some of the historical information presented here.

Flora & Fauna

Flora

Silver Tussock

Coprosma

Speargrass or Spaniard Aciphylla subflabellata

Matagouri

Prostrate kowhai

Melicytus alpinus

Brachyglotus lagopus

Lichen

Rock ledge plants

Silver tussock grasslands

Broom

Gorse

Small-leaved divaricating shrubs

Tree Nettle Urtica ferox: A woody shrub with sharp stinging hairs on the leaves and stems, inflicting a sting that lives up to its Latin name ferox, meaning ‘fierce’. For more information, see the description in ‘Hazards’ above.

Fauna

Nurseryweb Spider Dolomedes minor:

Nurseryweb spider's nursery. Photo credit: Jeremy Taylor

Nurseryweb spider’s nursery. Photo credit: Jeremy Taylor

Makes a nursery out of tightly-spun threads between adjacent branches in shrubs, up to several inches in size. The webs are not used for hunting, it will hunt without trapping prey. D. minor is the only species in its family that is endemic to NZ.

Bellbird/Korimako Anthornis melanura:  The bellbird’s loud, melodious song can be heard in bush along the coast and waterways and in trees and patches of bush in the Port Hills. Bellbirds are easier to hear than see, as their dark olive plumage makes it easy for them to blend in to the surrounding foliage.

Bellbirds feed on nectar, insects and fruits, and they play an important role in pollinating native plant species.

The bellbird is endemic to New Zealand.

Black-backed Gull/Karoro Larus dominicanus dominicanusThe black-backed gull is New Zealand’s largest gull. It has a white body with black upperparts, yellow legs and a yellow bill. Chicks peck at the red spot at the tip of the parent’s bill to stimulate regurgitation. Fledged offspring are mottled brown.

Black-backed gulls scavenge from human populations and are more aggressive than the red-billed gulls they are often seen with.

Fantail

Fantail (Pied morph). Photo credit: Jeremy Taylor

Fantail/Piwakawaka Rhipidura fuliginosaThis friendly native is recognised by its long tail, acrobatic flight and tinny cheep. Fantails feed on insects in bush and shrub and are found in many different habitats. If you walk through bush and there are fantails nearby, they will come and check you out. Photos are difficult, however, as fantails seldom stay in one place for more than a moment.

There are two morphs. The most well-known, the pied morph, is dark brown, with a cream-coloured belly and black and white bands. The black morph is dark brown all over, with no banding and a white spot behind each eye. About a quarter of South Island fantails are black.

Grey Warbler

Grey Warbler. Photo credit: Jeremy Taylor

Grey warbler/Riroriro Gerygone igataThe grey warbler’s long, melodic song is familiar background music throughout much of New Zealand. Smaller than a sparrow, the grey warbler has a grey-brown back, a white belly and red eyes. They feed on insects in the treetops, and this habit and its size means the grey warbler is more often heard than seen.

The grey warbler is endemic to New Zealand.

Silvereye or Waxeye/Tahou Zosterops lateralisThe silvereye is slightly smaller than a sparrow, with an olive head, grey and buff body and a distinctive white ring around each eye. Young birds do not have the white rings. They have a quiet, high-pitched call.

The silvereye was first recorded in New Zealand in the 1830s and has since spread throughout both islands. Silvereyes tend to flock in flowering bushes. They eat insects, nectar and fruit.

Penguins

Dolphins & whales

Sheep: The hills are leased for grazing to sheep farmers.

Rabbits and hares

Goldfinches

Greenfinches

Chaffinches

Skylarks

Yellowhammers

Redpolls

Magpies

Services

Public Toilets

There are public restrooms at the Gondola at the start of the track, and near the end of the track at Sumner. En route, there are facilities at the Godley Head carpark, and in Taylors Mistake. Besides these options, there are no other public toilet facilities, so plan your day accordingly.

Food & Refreshments

The Gondola top station has a cafe.

Very close to the end of the track at the Scarborough end of Sumner is the Ocean Cafe and Bar, which also has an icecream bar. It is a great place to end the day.

Sumner has a number of cafes, eateries, and a small supermarket.

Accommodation

Sumner features a small variety of hotel and B&B options.

Public Transport

Visit metroinfo.co.nz for bus trip planning, route maps, and timetables.

No buses run along the Summit Rd near the start of the leg, but the 28 and 535 Buses visit the carpark at the Gondola lower station, and you can ride the Gondola up to the top of Mt Cavendish near the end of the leg.

Bus 28 is a bi-directional route between Lyttelton and Papanui, via the central bus exchange.

Bus 535 is a bi-directional route between Lyttleton and Eastgate mall.

Purple P-Line Buses run bi-directionally between Sumner and the Christchurch Airport, via the central bus exchange. In Sumner, it runs along Nayland Street with several stops, just one block over from The Esplanade.

Nearby Points of Interest

Major Hornbrook / Cavendish Bluffs track

This trail leads south from the starting point, before forking to become the Major Hornbrook track to Lyttelton (to the left), and the Cavendish Bluffs track to the Bridle Path track (to the right).

Mt Pleasant

Climb to the top of Mt Pleasant for amazing 360 degree panoramic views.

Below the summit of Mt Pleasant, near Broadleaf Lane, was the site of an ancient Maori pā.

Jollies Bush

Chalmers Track to Lyttelton

In 1852 James Edward Fitzgerald, first Superintendent of the Canterbury Province, painted a watercolour of the scene looking east towards Evans Pass.

Nearby is a sheep scab dip and pen dating to 1851.

Captain Thomas track to Sumner

This track commemorates the work of Chief Surveyor for the Canterbury Association, Captain Joseph Thomas, who was responsible for the nearby Evans Pass road between Sumner and Lyttelton. Work started on the road in 1849.

Mahoe-nui Bush

A replanting project by the CCC Park Rangers with Forest & Bird Society  and Sumner Environment Group support.

Rapanui Bush

Observation and Machine gun posts

The Evans Pass – Godley Head carpark areas features several observation and machine gun posts.

Godley Head WW2 Museum

The Godley Head Coastal Defence Gun Emplacements

On Godley Head there are historic structures relating to coastal defence. These are not on the Christchurch 360 Trail itself, but are on one of the other walks accessible from the Godley Head carpark. The Godley Battery consisted of three 6″ BL Mark XXIV guns. Interestingly, only two of the guns came into operation during WWII, being first fired in early 1942. The third gun was installed when it was decided to bring all coastal batteries up to a three-gun standard, but although the gun was purchased in 1943, and the emplacement and magazines were completed in 1944, the gun was not installed until 1946, and it wasn’t fired until 1950. The guns were decommissioned in 1957.

Scarborough Bluffs track

Godley Head loop track

193 Steps

This short path ascends from the Taylors Mistake Track to the Taylors Mistake Road. It comprises an almost uninterrupted staircase. I guess someone has counted each step at some stage. Last time I got into the 170s before someone said something to me and I lost count.

Thanks to Peter Hansen for some of the historical information presented here.