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Sumner Beach, Christchurch

Sumner Beach, Christchurch

Escaping the city on a sunny day is always a good idea, especially in Christchurch where the city centre isn’t exactly a relaxing place. Sumner Beach is the ideal Christchurch beach getaway. There’s an esplanade to walk / cycle along, caves and viewpoints to explore and some nice bars and restaurants to relax in.

Sumner Beach

Posting a photo of Sumner Beach on Instagram or Facebook isn’t going to make your friends jealous. It’s a bit rough round the edges and the water certainly doesn’t convince you to throw off your inhibitions and jump in, but it’s a nice enough backdrop for a relaxing afternoon.

Sumner beach is broken up by a rocky outcrop laden with caves, known as Cave Rock (not the most creative name). You can walk through the caves, but high tide might put a stop to that. There’s a surf school at Sumner Beach, but apparently nearby Taylor’s Mistake (it’s a beach, not the new Taylor Swift song) is better for those who already know how to surf.

Sumner Beach, Christchurch, New ZealandCave Rock, Sumner Beach, Christchurch, New Zealand

Sumner Beach Viewpoints

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but the same can be said for distance. The further you get from a not so stunning beach the better it looks, so it’s a good idea to get a glimpse of Sumner Beach from above. You can climb up Cave Rock for a nice view, and you can also drive up towards Taylor’s Mistake (Scarborough Road) for a more sweeping view of Sumner Beach with a backdrop of snow-capped mountains (they don’t really come out in photos though). There’s no actual viewpoint on the road so just park up whenever you get the chance.

Sumner Beach from above, Christchurch, New ZealandSumner Beach from the top of Cave Rock, Christchurch, New Zealand

Sumner Esplanade

The Sumner Esplanade looks like a nice place to cycle, jog or walk your dog. There’s an old clock tower at the far end of the esplanade which is worth checking out, and there’s also a restaurant / bar nearby which would be a great spot on a warm day.

Clock tower, Sumner Beach, Christchurch, New ZealandA path to Sumner Beach, Christchurch, New Zealand

Eating and drinking

Eating and drinking is part of Sumner’s appeal. It’s the kind of place locals go on a weekend in summer for a coffee, an ice cream or maybe some fish and chips. There are a few places to eat in the little cluster of buildings close the beach — I had fish and chips which were OK, but not as good as I was expecting considering the proximity to the sea!

Getting to Sumner Beach

Sumner Beach is only a 25 minute drive from the centre of Christchurch (Purple Line Bus from the central interchange). If you’re making a day of it I’d recommend heading a bit further along the coast to Taylor’s Mistake and hiking to Godley Head. You’ll see some of the best coastal views in Christchurch and it’s fairly easy.

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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.