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Hiking in Christchurch: Taylor’s Mistake to Godley Head

Hiking in Christchurch: Taylor’s Mistake to Godley Head

With the inner city still in ruins six years after the 2011 earthquake, the glistening coastline of Banks Peninsula is a welcome escape. Hiking in Christchurch is best experienced (or so I’ve heard) on the Taylor’s Mistake to Godley Head Track, where you’ll see black sand beaches, towering cliffs and sweeping coastal views. Keep reading for everything you need to know about the hike from Taylor’s Mistake to Godley Head (and back again).

Taylor’s Mistake

This black (ish) sand beach is reached via a winding road above Sumner. Stop on the way up for great views back towards Christchurch and, on a clear day, the snow-capped Southern Alps. The beach itself is quite nice in a rugged sort of way. The mix of black and gold sand creates an interesting effect, especially when viewed from above.

Taylor’s Mistake got its current name (it used to be called Vincent’s Bay) when a captain ran his ship aground here thinking it was Sumner. Or maybe it was due to the untimely break-up of Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner back in 2009. There’s no way to be sure.

Hiking from Taylor’s Mistake to Godley Head

The hike to the end of Godley Head takes you past some beautiful coastal scenery. The path is wide, well marked and hugs the coastline for most of the way. There are a few uphill sections but it’s fairly easy. The path first takes you past some colourful baches (holiday homes) then climbs above Taylor’s Mistake before winding around the coast towards the end of Godley Head.

I read that you’re likely to see wildlife, including birds, seals and possibly dolphins, but I didn’t see anything interesting (except for some dogs).

WW2 Ruins at Godley Head

You’ll eventually come to the end of Godley Head where you’ll see several relics of New Zealand’s World War 2 defence system. A lot of it was blocked off when I visited but the ruined buildings were cool to see. From this section of the track you can see Lyttleton Harbour and eventually all the way down to the port itself.

Godley Head to Taylor’s Mistake

From the Godley Head car park you can either return the way you came or head up the hill and then down a mountain bike track, where you’ll eventually meet up with the coastal path you took earlier. The mountain bike track was narrow and muddy but it was nice not having to backtrack.

Getting to Taylor’s Mistake / Godley Head

You can start this hike at either the Taylor’s Mistake or Godley Head car park. From the city just head to Sumner (it’s easy to find) then drive over the hill to Taylor’s Mistake. The road to Godley Head can also be reached from Sumner — it doesn’t seem to matter which end you start from.

Are you keen to do some hiking in Christchurch? Will you choose this track? Let us know in the  comments below!

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Jon Algie

I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.