If you’re looking for a fun, easy and very scenic day out from Christchurch I highly recommend the drive out to Governors Bay and Diamond Harbour. These two places, and some spots in between, are ideal for pretty much anyone and it makes for a far easier alternative to driving all the way to Akaroa.
From Christchurch, head out to Lyttleton and then follow the road towards the right. First, you’ll reach Corsair Bay and Cass Bay – I wrote another post about those places so I won’t go into too much detail here, but you can combine all these bays for a longer (and more active) day trip from Christchurch.
After Cass Bay there are several places to pull your car over and admire the stunning views across the harbour. You’ll also see Quail Island, which you can catch a boat to from Lyttleton.
Governors Bay (not to be confused with the ones in the Marlborough Sounds and Auckland) is home to a famous Christchurch café – She Chocolate. It’s located above the bay with some stunning views on a nice day. I ate lunch there (the chicken pie was really good) and you can also grab some gourmet chocolates.
There seems to be quite a bit to explore in Governors Bay but most of the tracks were closed when I was there (and it seems like they’ve been closed for a while). I did manage to get down to the big pier, which was also closed, and saw some nice views on the track heading towards Allandale. I’m sure once all the tracks reopen this place will be more interesting, but it’s still worth checking out.
Charteris Bay / Church Bay
From Governors Bay the road continues around and onto Banks Peninsula (Governors Bay could also be technically on Banks Peninsula, but it doesn’t really look like it on the map). There aren’t too many places to pull over on this section of the road but there is a big car park / boat ramp in Charteris Bay if you want easy access to the water. Further around, at Church Bay, are my favourite views in this whole area. There’s no defined viewpoint, and not many places to pull over, but the views above Church Bay are stunning. There are a few houses which take full advantage of it and this would be a great (and very expensive) place to live. It’s easier to pull over on this road if you’re heading towards Diamond Harbour VS on the way back – I ended up turning around and having another go as I missed the good views the first time, so it does take a bit of effort to see!
From Church Bay it’s a short drive to Diamond Harbour. Boats ply the route between Lyttleton and Diamond Harbour – it could be an option if you’d rather spend some time on the water than the road.
There’s a car park close to the jetty at Diamond Harbour, or another one further up the hill. There’s a track connecting the two, and some shops / cafes in the main township. There’s also a historic cottage which I saw from the road but couldn’t be bothered walking to. There seems to be a few walks in and around Diamond Harbour – I didn’t do them as I was impressed enough with the views I saw close to the jetty – again, let me know if you’ve done them and which ones you’d recommend to our readers!
Beyond Diamond Harbour
If you want a longer day out, or are looking for an alternative route to Akaroa, you can continue past Diamond Harbour towards Pirau, Port Levy and Pigeon Bay. Apparently, the road from Pigeon Bay to Akaroa is pretty dodgy, but just before Charteris Bay there’s another road (Gebbies Pass Road) which will take you towards Akaroa.
Are you planning a trip to Christchurch? I’ve written heaps of posts about it – check them out!
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