Mount Cavendish

Standing imposingly beside Christchurch, this mountain in the Port Hills is a breathtaking sight. The views from the top are simply sublime.

Take the gondola to the top of Mount Cavendish or hike to the peak along paths surrounded by colourful plants. Enjoy a drink at the summit café as you marvel at the city skyline far below.

Mount Cavendish is part of the Port Hills range that stands between Christchurch and the maritime town of Lyttelton. Gaze up at the mountain which stands at 450 metres (1,480 feet) above sea level and is a section of the crater wall from an extinct volcano.

Hike along Bluffs Track that snakes up the mountain from the Heathcote Valley. Notice the indigenous ferns and colourful wild flowers that coat the lower slopes. As you climb higher, observe the vegetation becoming increasingly sparse. Look among the long grasses to see some of the region’s finest examples of lava flow.

A more relaxing way to scale the mountain is with a ride on the Christchurch Gondola. Carriages depart every hour, with a shuttle bus service taking you from Rolleston Avenue in the city centre to the station, a 15-minute drive out of town. Take advantage of this fantastic vantage point to gaze across the rolling hills and enjoy aerial views across the grid-like streets of Christchurch. The fee includes a return trip to the peak of Mount Cavendish.

Once you reach the top, make your way to the summit centre. Relax with a drink in the café or go straight to the raised viewing platform. Look to the east to spot Lyttelton Harbour and south where the pristine waters of Lake Ellesmere sparkle in the sun. The Pioneer Women’s Memorial near the summit honours the women who were among the early settlers in the region in the mid-1800s.

The base of Mount Cavendish is a short drive southeast of Christchurch. If you are going to walk to the top, be sure to wear sturdy shoes and take plenty of water with you. Several marked trails offer good hiking experiences with round trips of 1 to 3 hours.