The Godley Cliffs leg of the Christchurch 360 Trail runs from just below the Mt Cavendish Gondola upper station to the seaside suburb of Sumner.
This segment is approximately 16.1 km long, and could take a typical walker as much as 10.5 hrs. It is one of the longer segments of the Trail.
Route Update as at June 2022:
Currently the Awaroa/Godley Head Lighthouse Cottage and Campsite are closed. The area that people need to avoid is marked and the gun emplacements are included in this closed-off area. However the main car park and toilets are open.
Before you head out, please check for any changes to the track on the DOC website or contact the DOC Visitor Centre on 03 379 4082.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Things to see
You can find a Google Map of Things To See here.
This section of the trail starts in the saddle east of the Gondola upper station on Mt Cavendish, at a carpark on the Summit Road. There are four tracks in different directions; the 360 trail heads up towards the summit of Mt Pleasant.
Tauhinukorokio / Mt Pleasant
At an altitude of 499 metres, Mt Pleasant is the highest point on the 360 trail. (Trig V in Hoon Hay Reserve is nine metres lower.) The hill was named for its pleasant outlook. The Maori title, Tauhinukorokio, however, takes its name from two local summit plants: tauhini – a cottonwood, and korokio – Corokia contoneaster. With a natural spring close by, the summit is believed to have been a pa site of Ngati Mamoe, subsequently captured by Ngai Tahu. The trig station at the summit is a reminder that Mt Pleasant was chosen as the initial station for the foundation surveys of Canterbury.
Descending east from Mt Pleasant the trail passes by the Mt Pleasant gun emplacements. The five concrete structures represent a command post and four gun positions. Built in 1942 during World War II (1939-45) they are the remains of a heavy anti-aircraft artillery battery. The structures are much as they were when they were decommissioned by the army after the war. Their role was to combat high flying enemy aircraft. The guns used were 3.7 inch calibre and could punch a shell to 10,000 feet (3,000 m) in 14 seconds. At the time of construction the war in the Pacific was finely balanced and there was a fear that the Japanese would take over the Pacific, including New Zealand. The battery was manned from January 1943 to September 1944 but never went into action.
The pass is named for Lieutenant E J Evans of the survey ship Acheron, who suggested the route in 1849. Captain Joseph Thomas, the chief surveyor of the Canterbury Association, had thought to take the road over the hills immediately behind Lyttelton, until Evans suggested crossing the summit at 195 metres, the lowest point on that side of the harbour. The road, on the Lyttelton side, has been closed since the 2011 earthquakes, and repair work is still being undertaken as of October 2017.
Captain Thomas Memorial
Capt. Joseph Thomas was Chief Surveyor for the Canterbury Association, the company that arranged for the first immigrants from the UK.
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.
Climbing from Evans Pass, the trail passes a summit with a trig station. Beyond the hill the trail swings right to give good views across Lyttelton harbour including Purau Bay, Ripapa Island (appearing more like a small peninsula) and Camp Bay.
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.
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.
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.
Awaroa / Godley Head
The English name is for John Robert Godley (1814-1861), effectively, in 1850, the first ‘governor’ of the infant Canterbury settlement. The general area is touted as “the most complete WWII coastal defence site in New Zealand today.” It includes concrete bunkers, chimneys, hatches and old cables. Godley Head was taken over as a defence reserve as early as 1851, but the defence structures were not erected until the period 1939-45. At the crest of the head, behind a protective fence, is what was the Godley Battery, consisting of three emplacements, each with individual underground magazines. Unlike those on Mt Pleasant, their primary purpose was counter bombardment, which is the use of long range gunnery to counter enemy vessels attempting to bombard a coast. How close did the enemy get? Quite close – ten German mines were laid across the approaches to Lyttelton Harbour. They never exploded but nor have they subsequently been found.
From 1950 the facility was used by the Government for compulsory military training. The guns were last fired in February 1957 and the New Zealand Army ended the use of coastal artillery in July of the same year. The management of the area was subsequently taken over by the Department of Conservation and since the Canterbury earthquakes a camping ground has been established in what was the middle of the battery site.
From Godley Head the trail goes north keeping above the clifftops before swinging NW to drop into Boulder Bay. Social and economic change at the end of the nineteenth century saw ordinary New Zealanders have sufficient income and leisure to take holidays away for the first time. As a result bach communities grew rapidly including at Taylors Mistake (see below) and along the coast to Boulder Bay. Before the baches, the first residents here were cave dwellers. By 1890, Thomas Archbold had made his cave into a comfortable home, including having a fireplace and a rain water supply. By 1911 there were thirty baches at Taylors Mistake and Boulder Bay, and by 1937 there were 72. Two of the most notable – at the exposed eastern end of Boulder Bay – are made of stone: Rosy Morn built around 1916 and Stone End built in 1927.
In nearby Harris Bay, which abuts Boulder Bay, is a white-flippered penguin colony one of only three sites (all in Canterbury) where these endangered birds breed.
Te Onepoto / Taylors Mistake
There is some debate as to the origin of the name of this bay. The Godley Head Heritage Trust cites the source as Captain Taylor of the US ship Vulga mistaking it for either Lyttelton Harbour or the bay at Sumner. However, the earliest dated source is cited by Gordon Ogilvie in his book Enjoying The Port Hills as being Samuel Taylor, who, sailing the cutter Hook in 1851, mistook the bay as the entrance to Lyttelton Harbour.
As the trail begins to cross the beach, there is to the left a a row of thirteen baches, constructed of a variety of cheap building materials. This is known as Rotten Row, with most of these baches having been in place since the 1920s. The baches built at Taylor’s Mistake and Boulder Bay were almost all used as holiday homes by Christchurch families and collectively are registered as a historic place under the Historic Places Act 1993.
Taylors Mistake Surf Life Saving Club
The Surf Life Saving Club was founded in 1916 by some of the bach owners. The club’s original pavilion was destroyed by fire in 1958 and the club buildings that replaced it were severely damaged in the 2010-11 earthquakes. Temporary repairs were carried out but the partially repaired building was red-stickered after the 2016 Valentine’s Day earthquake. The club, as at October 2017, is now operating out of portacoms until full repairs can be completed.
The trail ascends from Taylors Mistake and at the top of Scarborough hill – named for the English seaside resort in Yorkshire – enters Nicholson Park. Named for W H Nicholson, Mayor of Sumner, 1923-38, the track down through the park affords picturesque views of Sumner. The lower part of the descent is on Flowers Track.
Sumner Lifeboat Station
Flowers Track finishes near the junction of Scarborough Road and Whitewash Head Road just above the Sumner Lifeboat Station. It is operated by the Sumner Lifeboat Institution Inc. A volunteer maritime search and rescue organisation, it was founded in 1898. The institute, the oldest coastguard unit in New Zealand, was a founding member of the Royal New Zealand Coastguard.in 1976 when following the 1968 Wahine disaster the various separate organisations saw the need for a national body. Since 2003 Sumner has been part of the Coastguard Southern Region.
This section of the trail finishes at the start of the Sumner Esplanade beside Scarborough Park.
Thanks to Stuart Payne for text and photos, Jeremy Taylor and Peter Hansen for some of the historical information presented here.
Flora & Fauna
Speargrass or Spaniard Aciphylla subflabellata
Rock ledge plants
Silver tussock grasslands
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.
Nurseryweb Spider Dolomedes minor:
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 dominicanus: The 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/Piwakawaka Rhipidura fuliginosa: This 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/Riroriro Gerygone igata: The 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 lateralis: The 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.
Dolphins & whales
Sheep: The hills are leased for grazing to sheep farmers.
Rabbits and hares
Gondola top station (and bottom station)
Godley Head carpark
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.
Sumner features a small variety of hotel and B&B options.
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).
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.
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.
A replanting project by the CCC Park Rangers with Forest & Bird Society and Sumner Environment Group support.
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
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.