Even though a scant eight miles separate Sumner from the city center of Christchurch, this coastal suburb set right on the beach may as well be its own island. Sumner Beach is the de facto “beach town” that is associated with sprawling Christchurch, where bikini-clad sunbathers and wetsuit-clad surfers mingle on the golden shores. Sleepy in winter but pulsing in summer, Sumner is a hangout of sun-seekers and sportsmen who flock to the beach and the hills. Joggers and walkers stroll on the boardwalk which parallels the popular shore, and paragliders and mountain bikers play on the hills which rise just behind town.
A relaxing, slow-paced, agreeable outpost, when the large earthquake of 2011 triggered landslides in the surrounding hills, Sumner Beach and its associated community were almost completely cut off from the city. Though the road has been fixed and Sumner is accessible again, evidence of the earthquake is still evident in the massive rock piles by the coast.
Even though the town is known for its beach and its waves, there is more to Sumner than the sand, the boardwalk, and the throngs who play in the surf. Sumner is also home to a lively downtown where hip coffee shops and trendy clothing boutiques line the town’s main thoroughfare, and on a warm summer day you can dine outdoors and smell the salt on the breeze. It’s the welcoming simplicity of a small-town atmosphere amidst the urban bustle of the city, and given its infectious, coastal charm, Sumner Beach can definitely be considered as one of the top day trips from Christchurch.