A Day Trip up the Gondola and Over to Diamond Harbour

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March 9th 2022
Published: March 9th 2022
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Prospects looked good as the sun came up for a day out and visits to places we had never been to before around Christchurch.

And one thing you can definitely say is that Christchurch has a great bus service that transports you in a straightforward manner and buses appear well patronised.

Following the major earthquakes 11 years ago there has been a considerable amount of rebuilding in the close to the city suburbs. All of the new builds in and around Bealey Avenue, which is roughly a kilometre to the centre of the CBD, are compact buildings of apartments, some up to 3 stories high. But it seems to work and there didn’t seem to be any unoccupied or awaiting a sale.

Our first stop planned today is the Gondola in the Heathcote Valley at the foot of the Port Hills and the bus that was to take us there departed just around the corner from our accommodation in Colombo Street.

This particular bus stop, and others along Colombo Street, were interesting in that there was a cycle lane to cross from the pavement to get onto the bus which stopped in the vehicle lane and cars backed up behind the bus. Between the pavement and across the cycle lane was a pedestrian crossing in miniature. One crossing at where the front of the bus stopped and one at where the rear door of the bus stopped. You still had to be wary of a fast moving cyclist as you left the pavement making sure they saw you and you saw them. No such problem this morning as the #28 to Lyttelton pulled in to pick us up.

The #28 route is essentially from suburbia, north to south, with a stop at the impressive 16 bay bus interchange in the centre of the CBD.

From the CBD the route took us initially towards the coast and then right up the Heathcote Valley and stopped right outside where the Gondola was located.

For the price of the return trip on the Gondola you also got a 7 minute internal ride in a buggy like contraption while the history of Christchurch played out before you. A very worthwhile experience even for us Kiwis who were reasonably already educated on how the Banks Peninsula was formed by volcanic action, provided to be a ‘food basket’ for the early Maori and then settled by Europeans in 1850.

The views from the top of the Gondola at 445metres above sea level, of both the city and plains out to the Southern Alps was extensive and then in the other direction the views were equally as impressive over Lyttelton Harbour.

After our 7 minute history revision we sat back with a coffee and took in the views with a small number of other local tourists making the most of the most popular attraction in Christchurch.

The second destination on today’s schedule was Diamond Harbour, a small settlement on the opposite side of the harbour from Lyttelton which we would reach by a fast ferry.

Diamond Harbour reputedly got its name from the resemblance of sunlight on the water to the shining of diamonds and today you could see how that came about with the sun in abundance.

The #28 bus picked us up at the Gondola and after driving through the 2.5km road tunnel under the Port Hills we emerged into the streets of the port of Lyttelton and down to the ferry terminal for the 10 minute crossing.

Now I should say here that our National Super Gold Card’s had been shown to the bus drivers, the Gondola ticket seller and now to the deck hand on the fast ferry to Diamond Harbour and the rides had all been free or with a good size discount on the Gondola. If this carries on over next 3 weeks then our Gold Cards will be worth more than their weight in GOLD!

The fast ferry zipped us across the harbour in 10 minutes and after a short walk up a steep hill we reached the few shops that represented the Diamond Harbour shopping centre.

As we had decided to take the 2pm ferry back across the harbour our time in Diamond Harbour was limited to checking out the Stoddart House which unfortunately wasn’t open for inspection on a weekday. The house was built in 1860 as a one bedroom dwelling but extended to take in his growing family and today is continuing to be renovated by the local society formed to keep this piece of local history looking smart.

We walked on via the local croquet club to check out the condition of the lawns and the quaint clubhouse.

Then it was onto the memorial garden on Stoddart Point (named for the early settler whose home we had viewed from the outside) and back down to the wharf ready for the 2pm ferry back across the harbour.

Again we zipped at speed across the harbour back to Lyttelton and waiting for us on the #28 bus was the same driver who had delivered us to the Gondola over 3 hours ago. He must have completed his trip through the tunnel after he dropped us off, travelled all the way back to where the #28 started its route and then came all the way back again.

Even more amazingly he recognised us and welcomed we back again on his bus!

Heading back towards our accommodation we stayed on the bus and went a little further onto Fresh Choice and chose our microwave dinners and another bottle of the sav blanc that we had all but cleaned off from yesterday. Needless to say Bluff Oysters weren’t on the menu again tonight!

Additional photos below
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9th March 2022

New ideas for our next visit
What a beautiful day you got for sightseeing. Although we have done the gondola before I think we will aim to repeat the experience and also consider a trip to Diamond harbour - like the sound of a fast ferry.

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