Local hapū Ngāti Wheke, based at Rāpaki, is hosting the Tuia 250 commemorations in Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour 6-10 December.
This is as far south as the Tuia 250 flotilla will travel, marking 250 years since the first encounters between Māori and Europeans and celebrating the voyaging traditions of Aotearoa.
As part of the event, three waka hourua or double-hulled sailing canoes, including one that has sailed from Tahiti, will be hosted at Te Ana Marina in Lyttelton on the weekend of 7-8 December and there will be speakers, a stardome, entertainment and a market with food and craft stalls.
On the Saturday the public can ‘hop on a waka’. This is a great opportunity for everyone in the community to see these amazing vessels that have sailed across the Pacific (as far as Easter Island) and meet the sailors that have navigated them and to enjoy the wonderful new marina.
Also on Saturday, London Street will host the Farmers’ Market. The business district is open seven days a week, 365 days a year and, when there are events or cruise ships, the local business community welcomes visitors to the port, so there is plenty to do and loads to see.
It may just be over the hill from the city confines, but the portside township of Lyttelton feels like a world away from its urban neighbour, with its own distinct vibe and fiercely passionate locals.
With an incredible mix of eclectic style, chilled vibes and high-end dining, there is much to offer in this seaside destination, from crafty second-hand stores to delectable eats. We’ve pulled together some of our favourite reasons to head over the hill and featured some of our favourite local businesses and suppliers below.
The dark horse of Christchurch coffee roasting and supply, Lyttelton Coffee Company has been serving and roasting coffee since 2007 through its cool London Street café.
Lyttelton Bakery and Glamour Cake has had the sweet taste of success since Bree Scott’s sweet treats went viral a couple of years back. The baked decadence will blow your mind.
At Wunderbar you will find velvet wallpaper, doll’s-head light shades and hidden toilets on tap at this local hotspot, but the epic views and huge calendar of live music will see you coming back.
For family-friendly dining, The Lyttelton Club offers million dollar views and the historic social hub of Lyttelton is celebrating its grand opening after extensive renovations on 11 May.
Meanwhile, from an unassuming two-storey building on the main street of Lyttelton, Roots Restaurant is churning out some of the best food in the country, making culinary waves in the portside town with its award-winning eats.
“The Building Intelligence Group is delighted to have played a role in the bringing back to life of such a rare piece of maritime history as the iconic Lyttelton Timeball Station and the working timeball itself.”
When Project Director Stephen Threadgall from project management specialist The Building Intelligence Group says how fantastic it is to see the Timeball Tower standing tall against the skyline again, he echoes the feelings of many people, not only in Lyttelton, but in Christchurch itself. The 2 November opening of the Timeball Station certainly marked another significant milestone in the rebuild of a city which has lost so much of its heritage.
The Timeball Station is one of the few of its kind left in the world. From 1876 to 1934 a ball dropped from its mast on its stone tower, signalling the time to ships in Lyttelton Harbour. Visual time signals such as this have historically been important features of many of the world’s ports, playing an integral role in correcting ships’ chronometers and ensuring accurate navigation.
The Victorian-era Timeball Station in Lyttelton Harbour was damaged beyond repair in the 22 February 2011 earthquake. “The building’s owner, Heritage New Zealand looked for a project manager with demonstrable experience in the heritage sector to secure a main contractor for the Timeball Station’s rebuild and to manage the programme and the construction phase,” Threadgall says.
“We at The Building Intelligence Group are known for this type of project. Over the past year we have worked with all the companies and professionals involved in the rebuild to complete the Timeball’s reconstruction on time and on budget.” Heritage New Zealand explains that the rebuild philosophy was to retain as much of the original fabric of the building as practicable. “We wanted to ensure that when locals saw the building each day it was familiar. The return of the Timeball Station and Timeball also fits well with the regeneration of Lyttelton that is going on.”
The $2 million reconstruction was on the former site using original materials salvaged from the careful deconstruction that took place following the earthquakes. As Stephen Threadgall says, “heritage projects can have their challenges. So to have the work progress so well to such a superb outcome gave our team immense satisfaction.”
A fine example of Victorian technology, the Timeball Station is one of only five in the world known to be still in working order. A rare piece of maritime history, it has now been fabulously restored and boasts spectacular views over Lyttelton Harbour.
Lyttelton is physically just over the hill from Christchurch but the portside town feels like a figurative world away from its urban neighbour. And, despite the fascinating historic story behind this burgeoning township, there is plenty keeping Lyttelton ahead of the game.
A wide range of cool boutique shops warrant some perusing time. Head into secondhand store London St Books for a dose of nostalgia, record store Spookie Boogie to find music, limited edition T-shirts and original art or drop by the Harbour Co-op – a community and staff-owned co-operative store that supports local, organic, fair trade and wholefoods producers.
There’s also Sweet Thursday, which always has the most interesting window displays, while Henry Trading offers an ‘independent miniature department store’, right next door.
Every Saturday from 10am to 1pm, London Street comes alive with food stalls, music and the bustle of people buying fresh produce or simply catching up with friends and enjoying a coffee or two. The market has a commitment to local food with more than a dozen stallholders from Lyttelton and a whole swathe from under 20 kilometres away.
When it comes to portside eats, Lyttelton’s players are on top of their culinary game. Established in February in Norwich Quay, alongside Lyttelton’s busy port, Super’s kitchen serves up fresh eats with a Japanese twist.
From an unassuming two-storey building on the main street, Roots restaurant is turning out some of the best food in the country, its owners Giulio and Christy Sturla driven by a simple philosophy of serving good food using fresh, seasonal, organic ingredients.
Iconic hotspot Wunderbar – known for its quirky décor – has churned out some of the region’s most prodigious talents, including former local Marlon Williams who still makes the list amongst an extensive line-up of local artists and touring acts.
Meanwhile, with an intimate, nostalgic vibe owing to its rustic fit out and location in a historic building that once housed a tailor shop of the same name, Civil & Naval is another happening hangout.
From its 1921 heritage building, the Lyttelton Coffee Company supplies beans to more than 30 cafés in the city, so it’s fair to say they know what they are doing when it comes to coffee. Harbourside views make it a beautiful spot for a brew.
Cruise ships are one step closer to returning to Lyttelton Harbour, as construction begins on Lyttelton Port Company’s (LPC) cruise berth, which will be located between Cashin Quay and the entrance to the Inner Harbour.
It will be the first custom-built cruise ship facility in New Zealand designed to accommodate the world’s largest cruise vessels. In preparation, the navigation channel is being widened by 20 metres and deepened to allow vessels with a 13.3 metre draft to call at Lyttelton.
The channel deepening will not only allow bigger ships to access the Port, but it will provide Canterbury’s importers and exporters the best possible and most-cost effective international shipping solutions.
Post-earthquake, the scale of home building is a remarkable spectacle, but few homes have captured the soul of our environment quite like Black Rock House.
Named for its situation on the Black Rock Headland in Lyttelton Harbour, the house is as secure in its position on the shortlist of the 2018 Canterbury competition of the NZIA Awards: House Category, as it is on the dug-in platform which minimises its prominence in the landscape.
With winners announced on 7 June, the judges must be impressed by the new emphasis this home gives to the phrase “locally sourced materials”. The lower floor is clad in the red rock of Banks Peninsula, dug out of its site. It’s more red than black presence blends into the surroundings, a rocky outcrop with a drop to the sea.
Jasper van der Lingen, Director at Sheppard and Rout regards it as a career highlight. “It isn’t diluted by the factors that often trim a concept, and the first ideas were in 2007. The concept had time to mature, evolve and get better and better.”
Invisible from the road above, the roof is stunning – solid concrete edged, permanent feeling, organic curves based on the headlands and bays swooping sinuously in and out around the Lyttelton harbour. Jasper’s interior favourite is a sheltered outdoor room. It faces north, where the sounds of the sea magnify as they bounce off the ceiling. Underfoot, the teak decking takes you back to the days of the sailing ships that plied their trade in the harbour.
Bowater Builders’ skilled team made the design a reality. Greg Bowater heads the Lyttelton company started by his father more than 50 years ago. “It’s a generational love affair with building on the Peninsula.”
The steep rocky hillside had its challenges, but the experienced team of subcontractors with a background in this type of project, created the very special outcome. Greg feels privileged to have worked with Sheppard and Rout and the owners to build a home that reflects well on the design of the era – creating its own piece of history. Bowater Builders has another architectural build in the 2018 NZMB House of the Year competition.
Sydenham Joinery was chosen for its high end bespoke quality service. Manager Grant Weston ensured an elite finished product to meet the standards of the home and its outlook. “Working with Sheppard and Rout on architectural builds is an organic and very rewarding process,” Grant says.
Modern styled, the materials are American White Oak timber veneer, paint lacquer in darker moody blues, and the kitchen in solid stainless steel plate. Stunningly crafted window seats in the kitchen provide a spot to contemplate the view, while the beautiful joinery combinations flow through the dining area and outdoor room, to the luxury of the library fitout.
Locals and visitors to Lyttelton’s Oxford Street Reserve have plenty to feast their eyes upon as they take in the stunning and spectacular murals at the revamped skate park and playground.
Completed last month, the murals, which took around two weeks of labour intensive painting, are by Los Angeles-based Christchurch artist Dcypher, also known as Guy Ellis. They tell a visual story incorporating native plants and birds, Maori design motifs, and a Lyttelton inspired urban scene featuring a skateboarder. Dcypher had fellow DTR Crew artists – Wongi, Ikarus and Jacob Yikes – assisting him on the job.
Christchurch City Council project manager, Jon Malis, says the murals reflect the history of Lyttelton and the site and appeal directly to the youth of the area who are the primary users of the park.
The artworks are a key element of the $375,000 site upgrade, which includes extensive playground landscaping, repairs to the park’s earthquake-damaged heritage walls, and the skate park being rebuilt.
An acclaimed muralist, Dcypher’s work features in the Spectrum Street Art Show and several murals around Christchurch, along with international street art festivals, cityscapes, museums and high-profile advertising campaigns. His work has also been showcased in Brazil, New Zealand and the United States, and he was recently invited to participate in painting the World’s Largest Graffiti Wall for the Guinness Book of World Records in Dubai.
Most impressive of all however, is that the prodigiously talented Dcypher has truly hit the big time, having developed mural art works specifically for the TV shows, Sons of Anarchy, Silicon Valley and NCIS.