Harry Ells Track & Sugarloaf Circuit, Port Hills, Canterbury NZ

An easygoing walk in the Port Hills, taking you from the edge of town up to the Crater Rim on the Harry Ells Track, then around the Sugarloaf Circuit with good views over Govenors Bay and the Canterbury Plains.

Harry Ells Track & Sugarloaf Circuit, Port Hills

This is one combination of many possible walks in the Port Hills on the outskirts of Christchurch. This one takes you from the edge of town in Cashmere Hills to the Crater Rim through regenerating bush, then on the Sugarloaf Circuit with views over Governors Bay to the east, and the Canterbury Plains and Christchurch to the west. You could have food and coffee at one of the historic cafes at either end of the Harry Ells Track: Sign of the Takahe and Sign of the Kiwi.

It’s a pretty easygoing walk for the most part. Track notes at the end.

Harry Ells Track & Sugarloaf Circuit: The Scenery

Harry Ells Track & Sugarloaf Circuit, Port Hills
Sign of the Takahe: was once a guest house, now a cafe/restaurant/bar. We had lunch at Sign of the Kiwi, which is a simpler building (I forgot to take a picture of it).
Harry Ells Track & Sugarloaf Circuit, Port Hills
Native bush on Mitchells Track.
Harry Ells Track & Sugarloaf Circuit, Port Hills
Views over Govenors Bay from Mitchells Track.
Harry Ells Track & Sugarloaf Circuit, Port Hills
Sugarloaf (496m)
Harry Ells Track & Sugarloaf Circuit, Port Hills
Christchurch under a cloud inversion.
Harry Ells Track & Sugarloaf Circuit, Port Hills
Sophia looking out towards Christchurch from Cedrics Track.
Harry Ells Track & Sugarloaf Circuit, Port Hills
I only took my phone so couldn’t quite capture the atmosphere of the cloud inversion.
Harry Ells Track & Sugarloaf Circuit, Port Hills
Looking towards Kaikoura. The distant mountains visible to the right are the tallest in NZ outside of the Southern Alps, peaking at 2885m.
Harry Ells Track & Sugarloaf Circuit, Port Hills
Bits of the Crater Rim viewed from Cedrics Track. The Sign of the Kiwi is tucked in behind the hill bottom left.
Harry Ells Track & Sugarloaf Circuit, Port Hills
Returning on the Harry Ells Track. He was the politician who had the Sign of the Takahe and Kiwi buildings constructed over a hundred years ago, and also set up a number of nature reserves in the area.


Track Notes

Harry Ells Track & Sugarloaf Circuit, Port Hills
Our route in blue. The Harry Ells Track is constructed and well graded. The Sugarloaf Circuit is uneven and a bit more like a bush track, especially Mitchells Track. Could be muddy in wet weather and winter. Sign of the Kiwi is at the top of Harry Ells Track.

You start at Sign of the Takahe and pick up the Harry Ells Track a little up Dwyers Pass Road. Follow this obvious track until you reach the Sign of the Kiwi. From there the Sugarloaf Circuit is signposted. You can get more information on walks in the area from the Christchurch City Council website.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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