Separating Christchurch from Lyttleton Harbor, the Port Hills are a playground for Christchurch outdoors-lovers who are looking to work up a sweat. Rising to height of nearly 1,800 feet, the Port Hills are located a short distance from downtown and are criss-crossed by multi-use trails. Hit the hillside on a rented mountain bike or go for a scenic hike, or watch as paragliders leap from the slopes overlooking the beach town of Sumner. Many of the trails were closed as a result of landslides in the 2011 earthquake, but most of the trails have since been reopened and are a refreshing getaway from the city.
In addition to the trails, the Port Hills are known for the native birds which make their homes on the hillsides. Catch a glimpse of a New Zealand wood-pigeon as it floats above the hills, or hear the call of a native bellbird as it rustles about the bush. Or, if you’d prefer to simply take a drive and get high above the city, the roads leading up to the crest of the Port Hills offer some of the best views in Christchurch. On clear days you can see north up the coast towards Kaikoura, and the snowy peaks of the Southern Alps can often be seen in the distance. The south side of the hills offers dramatic views of Lyttleton Harbor and the Banks Peninsula, and it’s a romantic place to find your own patch of grass and enjoy a sunset followed by the stars. Though much construction still needs to be completed until all of the trails are open, the Port Hills are still one of the best places in Christchurch to get high above the rush of the city.