Going ashore in Lyttelton, New Zealand

Going ashore in Lyttelton

Lyttelton is the South Island’s largest port and it is situated on an inner harbour in the middle of the North side of Lyttelton Harbour. It is a small, but picturesque town developed around the port and the hills which surround it.

Walking inside the terminal is not allowed and, for going out, seafarers must rely on the services of the port shuttle bus, which can be called upon and waited for at the end of the pier.

As the centre of the town is very close to the port gate, the shuttle bus drivers are very kind and they offer a free of charge ride from the pier to the centre. Most of the time, the dropping off point is in front of the local supermarket, close to the local Library.

For returning, seafarers must walk their way towards the gate (~ 10 minutes) and then pick the shuttle bus to continue their ride inside the terminal, towards the vessels.

The town of Lyttelton does not offer much tourist attraction for the visitors, except for a few shops and restaurants lined up along the principal street and occasional cultural events, celebrations and festivals during the summer. The town is build on the hill and most of the streets are going up on easy slopes. The more you go high, the better visibility you can have over the port area.



If you are in town on a Saturday, you can visit the Farmers’ Market which is held on London Street, from 10 in the morning until 1 in the afternoon.

If you have more time to wander around the area, you can pick up the local bus (number 28) and pay a visit to the nearby city of Christchurch, New Zealand’s third largest city. The bus ride will last ~ 30 minutes and it will take you on the other side of the Port Hills, through a tunnel.

The city of Christchurch – and the entire area – was hit by two devastating earthquakes 4 years ago which destroyed much of the historic centre, leaving many buildings in ruins. The city is struggling to recover from these terrible events and a complete program of reconstruction is in progress, especially around the centre, where most of the old and historic buildings were located. Some of the old buildings totally collapsed, others were partially damaged, but most of them are still unsafe and represent a sad sight for the eye.



During summer time, Christchurch is a beautiful place to have a stroll in and a relax time, due to its abundance of gardens and parks, which gave it the national recognition as the ‘Garden City’.

If you want to spend your time in a more agreeable and enjoyable way, you can choose to go up the Port Hill and have a panoramic view over the entire area.

Christchurch Gondola takes you up the Hill, at a altitude of ~500 meters. The journey to the top of the Port Hills (Cavendish Mountain) takes only 10 minutes and costs 25 NZ$.


The Gondola can be reached after a 10 minute ride on the same Bus (number 28) towards Christchurch.

The view from the top is amazing. To the West, you can admire the cityscape of Christchurch, over the Canterbury Plains to the high peaks of the Southern Alps.


To the South and East you can have a view over the Banks Peninsula and Lyttelton Harbour, where your vessel is docked. The Gondola building hosts a restaurant and a souvenir shop with a very good display of products, mostly handmade by local artisans.




The building has a very interesting shape and it is visible from the Port of Lyttelton.



Lyttelton Port

Useful Information

– You will find free wireless internet in the Public Library in the centre of the town. The Library is open weekdays between 10 and 18 (Saturdays between 10 and 13, Sunday close). The wireless internet in available outside the Library building as well.

Public Library in Lyttelton

– The Bus to Christchurch has a fixed schedule year round (every 20-30 minutes, depending on the hour of the day) and there are two bus stations in town, one closer to the port gate, the other in the centre (you can ask the shuttle bus driver to take you to the Bus stop). You can buy the ticket from the bus driver (3.5NZ$) and this ticket will offer you free rides within a period of 2 hours. For example, you can use one ticket to go to Christchurch, including a one hour (or more) stop at the Gondola. The bus schedule is visibly posted in front of the Gondola Building and in all the stations along the way, so you can time your stay and reduce the waiting periods.


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