This circuit walk in the Port Hills next to Christchurch takes in part of the Crater Rim Walkway above Lyttelton, the South Island’s major port. There are great views of Lytteton Harbour and the town itself, and a bit of a workout as you ascend onto the tops. This area is part of an old volcano, and you can see the shape of the crater in the surrounding hills. There are also views over Christchurch to the north, and out over the Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps in the west. The vegetation is a bit mixed and not always that attractive, although there were nice sections of tussock grass up high.
Being so close to Christchurch the tracks in the Port Hills can get fairly busy, although this may have been compounded on the day we did this walk by the need to “keep it local” during the Covid 19 restrictions. Nevertheless, the tracks we took up and down were a little quieter than the Crater Rim Walkway itself, which is accessible by road.
Track notes at the end.
Urumau-Crater Rim Circuit, Lyttelton: The Scenery
The track through Urumau Reserve is fairly obvious, just don’t go off into the mountain biking area. The ascent up to the Crater Rim Walkway is a little rocky and quite steep, but not very far. It’s easy walking across the tops, and you have three choices to descend back down to Lyttelton: Major Hornbrook Track, the Bridle Path, or the Stan Helms Track. We took the last of these to make a slightly wider circuit, and it was fairly quiet, so a good choice I think. (2022 edit: we like to take the Major Hornbrook Track nowadays to make a short circuit of about one hour thirty minutes – it’s our go-to short walk for when we aren’t doing a proper walk, or just for exercise).
There are plenty more tracks in the Port Hills, and the Christchurch City Council has a good website with an interactive map of these tracks. There’s also a good website listing numerous walks all over the Banks Peninsula.
The entrance we used to Urumau Reserve is shown below…