The beach suburb of Sumner might be hidden from Christchurch by the Port Hills, but this vibrant summer hot spot is only a short drive east from the CBD. Visitors can enjoy a dip at Sumner Beach, relax on the beach’s golden sands, or enjoy a coffee or ice cream on the waterfront at one of the suburb’s promenade cafés.
Sumner Beach is a popular destination for city dwellers and visitors who want to make the most of the summer sun. The beach’s yellow sands run from the main road into Sumner, past Cave Rock, and down to nearby Scarborough—and the whole stretch is typically packed with swimmers and sunbathers in summer. There is also good surfing on the half tide.
Off the beach, Sumner’s Esplanade and nearby Marriner Street are full of cafés, restaurants, ice cream parlors, and boutiques. Head out to Greenwood Park and Scarborough Hill Reserve to discover a range of nature walks, or stroll along the boardwalk from Cave Rock to Scarborough. You can also clamber through Cave Rock at low tide or head to Scarborough Park, which has a children’s playground and paddling pool.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Sumner Beach is ideal for beach bums and families with children.
- The beach has mobility parking and matting strips, making it more accessible for strollers and visitors with mobility concerns.
- There are changing rooms, public toilets, and showers at the Surf Lifesaving Club, at Scarborough Park, and along the Esplanade.
How to Get There
Sumner Beach is 8 miles (13 kilometers) east of Christchurch. If driving, simply follow Linwood Avenue east toward the coast; there is plenty of parking along the Esplanade. Alternatively, catch the Purple Line bus from the Christchurch Bus Interchange off Lichfield Street; this bus runs roughly every 15 minutes.
When to Get There
Sumner surges with people in the summer, particularly on weekends and school holidays (which typically start in December and run through January). There’s really no other time to visit, though—the beach is safest in summer, when lifeguards are actively patrolling, plus Sumner can get cold in winter. But before swimming, check the Land Air Water Aotearoa water-quality map, which is regularly updated.
Keep Safe While Swimming at Sumner Beach
With lifeguards patrolling the beach, particularly west of Cave Rock, Sumner Beach is usually pretty safe during the summer. The beach does have a couple of notorious areas to be aware of, where rips with strong currents can form: north of the Surf Lifesaving Club and near the Cave Rock headlands. Stay safe and swim between the red and yellow flags marking the area patrolled by lifeguards.