Sugarloaf Scenic Reserve, Christchurch

If you’re looking for the best viewpoints in Christchurch you’ll want to head for the Port Hills. There are heaps of great views over the harbour, city and surrounding mountains, and lots of scenic reserves and walking tracks. Sugarloaf Scenic Reserve is great place to see everything the Port Hills is famous for, as you’re about to find out.

Sugarloaf Scenic Reserve

Sugarloaf Scenic Reserve is a short drive from downtown Christchurch (only 12 km from the city centre). Drive down Colombo Street and then up Dyers Pass Road and either park at the Sign of the Kiwi Café or drive up Summit Road and park at the top of the reserve.

A Short Walk

I parked at the Sign of the Kiwi Café and did the loop track to the top of the reserve and back. It starts just across the road from the café and the walk should take around an hour.

The track (Mitchells Track) takes you along a forest path with plenty of viewpoints along the way. It’s an easy walk but can get muddy after rain. Once at the top you’ll see the road and a car park. If you don’t feel like doing the 1-hour walk you can park there and walk to the end of the track – that’s where you’ll see the best views — or just enjoy the vistas from near the car park.

The Best Viewpoint in Sugarloaf Scenic Reserve

Keep heading up from the car park for a few minutes and you’ll come to the best viewpoint in Sugarloaf Scenic Reserve. You’ll get stunning views of Banks Peninsula and Lyttleton Harbour, as well as the small settlements scattered around it.

The Way Back

On the way back you can choose from two different tracks. Gilpins Track (the one I did) is shorter but there aren’t many views. If you take the other one (Cedrics Track) you should get some views of Christchurch. You can see that side from near the carpark anyway so you won’t be missing too much.

The Easier Option

If you aren’t keen for a walk you can always park at the car park on Summit Road. From there you can see the views already, and it’s only a few minutes to the best viewpoint. That’ll give you more time to explore other spots in the Port Hills. From Sugarloaf Scenic Reserve you could drive to Mount Vernon Park, where you’ll see similar views including New Brighton Beach and the coastline north of Christchurch.

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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.