Lyttelton Harbour

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Lyttelton Harbour
Lyttelton Harbour gives access to the port at Lyttelton.
Map of Lyttelton Harbour LytteltonHarbourNZ-map.png
Map of Lyttelton Harbour

Lyttelton Harbour / Whakaraupō is one of two major inlets in Banks Peninsula, on the coast of Canterbury, New Zealand; the other is Akaroa Harbour on the southern coast.

Banks Peninsula peninsula in New Zealand

Banks Peninsula is a peninsula of volcanic origin on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. It has an area of approximately 1,150 square kilometres (440 sq mi) and encompasses two large harbours and many smaller bays and coves. The South Island's largest city, Christchurch, is immediately north of the peninsula.

Canterbury, New Zealand Region of New Zealand in South Island

Canterbury is a region of New Zealand, located in the central-eastern South Island. The region covers an area of 44,508 square kilometres (17,185 sq mi), and is home to a population of 624,000.

Akaroa Harbour harbor in New Zealand

Akaroa Harbour is part of Banks Peninsula in the Canterbury Region of New Zealand.


It enters from the northern coast of the peninsula, heading in a predominantly westerly direction.

Approximately 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) in length from its mouth to Teddington, the harbour sits in the erosion caldera of the ancient Lyttelton Volcano, [1] the steep sides of which form the Port Hills on its northern shore. [2]

A caldera is a large cauldron-like hollow that forms shortly after the emptying of a magma chamber/reservoir in a volcanic eruption. When large volumes of magma are erupted over a short time, structural support for the rock above the magma chamber is lost. The ground surface then collapses downward into the emptied or partially emptied magma chamber, leaving a massive depression at the surface. Although sometimes described as a crater, the feature is actually a type of sinkhole, as it is formed through subsidence and collapse rather than an explosion or impact. Only seven caldera-forming collapses are known to have occurred since 1900, most recently at Bárðarbunga volcano, Iceland in 2014.

Port Hills mountain range

The Port Hills are a range of hills in Canterbury, New Zealand, so named because they lie between the city of Christchurch and its port at Lyttelton. They are an eroded remnant of the Lyttelton volcano, which erupted millions of years ago.

The harbour's main population centre is Lyttelton, which serves the city of Christchurch, linked with Christchurch by the single-track Lyttelton rail tunnel (opened 1867), a two lane road tunnel (opened 1964) and two roads over the Port Hills. Diamond Harbour lies to the south and the Māori village of Rāpaki to the west. At the head of the harbour is the settlement of Governors Bay. The reserve of Quail Island is near the harbour head and Ripapa Island is just off its south shore at the entrance to Purau Bay.

Lyttelton, New Zealand Place

Lyttelton is a port town on the north shore of Lyttelton Harbour, at the northwestern end of Banks Peninsula and close to Christchurch, on the eastern coast of the South Island of New Zealand.

Christchurch City in South Island, New Zealand

Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand and the seat of the Canterbury Region. The Christchurch urban area lies on the South Island's east coast, just north of Banks Peninsula. It is home to 404,500 residents, making it New Zealand's third-most populous city behind Auckland and Wellington. The Avon River flows through the centre of the city, with an urban park located along its banks.

Diamond Harbour, New Zealand settlement on Banks Peninsula, New Zealand

Diamond Harbour is a small settlement on Banks Peninsula, in Canterbury, New Zealand. It is on the peninsula's northern coast, on the southern shores of Lyttelton Harbour, and is administratively part of the city of Christchurch.

The harbour provides access to a busy commercial port at Lyttelton which today includes a petroleum storage facility and a modern container and cargo terminal. [3]

Oil terminal facility for the storage of oil and/or petrochemical products

An oil depot is an industrial facility for the storage of oil and/or petrochemical products and from which these products are usually transported to end users or further storage facilities. An oil depot typically has tankage, either above ground or below ground, and gantries (framework) for the discharge of products into road tankers or other vehicles or pipelines.

Hector's dolphins, a species endemic to New Zealand, and New Zealand fur seals live in the harbour.

Hectors dolphin species of mammal

Hector's dolphin is the best-known of the four dolphins in the genus Cephalorhynchus and, along with its subspecies Maui's dolphin, is the only cetacean endemic to New Zealand. At approximately 1.4 m (4.6 ft) in length, it is one of the smallest cetaceans.

<i>Arctocephalus forsteri</i> species of mammal

Arctocephalus forsteri, the Australasian fur seal, South Australian fur seal, New Zealand fur seal, Antipodean fur seal, or long-nosed fur seal, is a species of fur seal found mainly around southern Australia and New Zealand. The name New Zealand fur seal is used by English speakers in New Zealand; kekeno is used in the Māori language. As of 2014, the common name long-nosed fur seal has been proposed for the population of seals inhabiting Australia.


Māori referred to the harbour as Te Whakaraupō, with this translating as harbour of the raupō reed. [4] The common original European name for the harbour was Port Cooper, after Daniel Cooper. A less common early name was Cook's Harbour, based on the early explorations by James Cook; the equivalent naming convention referred to Akaroa Harbour as Bank's Harbour after the botanist Joseph Banks. [5]

Māori people Indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand

The Māori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. Māori originated with settlers from eastern Polynesia, who arrived in New Zealand in several waves of canoe voyages some time between 1250 and 1300. Over several centuries in isolation, the Polynesian settlers developed a unique culture, with their own language, a rich mythology, and distinctive crafts and performing arts. Early Māori formed tribal groups based on eastern Polynesian social customs and organisation. Horticulture flourished using plants they introduced; later, a prominent warrior culture emerged.

<i>Typha orientalis</i> species of plant

Typha orientalis, commonly known as bulrush, bullrush, cumbungi in Australia, or raupō in New Zealand, is a perennial herbaceous plant in the genus Typha. It can be found in Australia, New Zealand including the Chatham Islands and the Kermadec Islands), Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, China and the Russian Far East.

Daniel Cooper was a convict transported to New South Wales who became a successful merchant, financier, shipowner and shipping agent.

The surveyors under Joseph Thomas who surveyed Canterbury in the late 1840s named the harbour Port Victoria after the monarch of the United Kingdom, but the name did not find common acceptance. The name was officially changed to Lyttelton Harbour in 1858, in honour of George William Lyttelton, who was the chairman of the Canterbury Association. [6] The official name of the harbour was amended again to become a dual name by the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998. [7]


Lyttelton Harbour from the Bridle Path, 1937, Sydney Lough Thompson Sydney2.jpg
Lyttelton Harbour from the Bridle Path , 1937, Sydney Lough Thompson

King Billy Island was a source of sandstone for Māori that was used for grinding stone including pounamu (greenstone). [8] [9] Early European settlers used the adjacent Quail Island as a leper colony in 1918–25. [3] Quail Island is now a nature reserve. [3]

Fort Jervois was built on the island of Rīpapa in 1885–95. [3] Rīpapa was used in World War I to intern German nationals as enemy aliens, the most notable being Count Felix von Luckner.

In 1877 the Lyttelton Harbour Board (now Lyttelton Port Company) started building an inner harbour, [3] and in 1895 the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand started a steamship service on the 200-nautical-mile (370 km) route between here and Wellington. [10] From 1907 it was worked with turbine steamships and from 1933 it was named the "Steamer Express". [10]

However, in 1962 New Zealand Railways started the Interislander ferry service on the 55-nautical-mile (102 km) route between Picton and Wellington. This competing service not only offered a shorter crossing but also used diesel ships that had lower running costs than the Union Company's turbine steamers. The wreck of the Steamer Express TEV Wahine in 1968 was a setback for the Lyttelton service but the Union Company introduced a new ship, TEV Rangatira, in 1972. [10] She lost money, survived on a Ministry of Transport subsidy from 1974 and was withdrawn in 1976, [10] leaving the Interislander's Picton route to continue the ferry link between the two islands.

Lyttelton Harbour as seen from Mount Cavendish LytteltonHarbour1 gobeirne.jpg
Lyttelton Harbour as seen from Mount Cavendish
View towards entrance of Lyttelton Harbour LytteltonHarbour3 gobeirne.jpg
View towards entrance of Lyttelton Harbour

Related Research Articles

South Island Southernmost of the two main islands in New Zealand

The South Island, also officially named Te Waipounamu, is the larger of the two major islands of New Zealand in surface area; the other being the smaller but more populous North Island. It is bordered to the north by Cook Strait, to the west by the Tasman Sea, and to the south and east by the Pacific Ocean. The South Island covers 150,437 square kilometres (58,084 sq mi), making it the world's 12th-largest island. It has a temperate climate.

Ngāi Tahu Māori iwi (tribe) in Aotearoa New Zealand

Ngāi Tahu, or Kāi Tahu, is the principal Māori iwi (tribe) of the southern region of New Zealand. Its takiwā is the largest in New Zealand, and extends from Blenheim, Mount Mahanga and Kahurangi Point in the north to Stewart Island in the south. The takiwā comprises 18 rūnanga corresponding to traditional settlements.

Kaiapoi Place

Kaiapoi is a town in the Waimakariri District of the Canterbury region, in the South Island of New Zealand. The town is located approximately 17 kilometres north of central Christchurch, close to the mouth of the Waimakariri River. It is considered to be a satellite town of Christchurch, although in the Waimakariri for statistical purposes it is part of the Christchurch urban area.

Quail Island (New Zealand) island in New Zealand

Quail Island is a small uninhabited island within Lyttelton Harbour in the South Island of New Zealand, close to Christchurch. The island was given its European name by Captain William Mein Smith who saw native quail here in 1842; though they were already extinct by 1875. 'Ōtamahua' has the meaning of a 'place where children collect sea eggs'. 'Te Kawakawa' refers to the pepper trees found on the island.

Akaroa was a New Zealand electorate. It was located in on Banks Peninsula, in Canterbury, and named after the town of the same name. One of the original 24 electorates, it existed from 1853 to 1893.


Interislander is a road and rail ferry service across New Zealand's Cook Strait, between Wellington in the North Island and Picton in the South Island. It is owned and operated by state-owned rail operator KiwiRail. Three roll-on roll-off (RORO) vessels operate the 50 nautical miles route, taking about three hours to complete the crossing.

Ripapa Island island

Ripapa Island is located just off the shore of Lyttelton Harbour (Whakaraupo) has played many roles in the history of New Zealand. The island initially played a key role in an internal struggle for the South Island Ngāi Tahu tribe in the early 19th Century. In the late 19th century the island was used as a quarantine station for ships arriving from Britain, though 1880 saw the use of the quarantine buildings as a prison, notably for members of the Parihaka Māori settlement in Taranaki during its passive resistance campaign against the surveying and selling of its land by the government. The quarantine buildings were dismantled when the Island was incorporated into the coastal defence scheme.

Purau is a small settlement in Canterbury, New Zealand, facing Lyttelton Harbour.

Port Levy settlement on Banks Peninsula, New Zealand

Port Levy is a long, sheltered bay and settlement on Banks Peninsula in Canterbury, New Zealand. The current population is under 100, but in the mid-19th century it was the largest Māori settlement in Canterbury with a population of about 400 people. It is named after Solomon Levey, an Australian merchant and ship owner who sent a number of trading vessels to the Banks Peninsula area during the 1820s.

Ōnawe Peninsula

The Ōnawe Peninsula is a volcanic plug inside Akaroa Harbour, on Banks Peninsula in Canterbury, New Zealand.

The history of the Canterbury Region of New Zealand dates back to settlement by the Māori people in about the 10th century.

Duvauchelle settlement on Banks Peninsula, New Zealand

Duvauchelle is a small town situated at the head of Akaroa Harbour on Banks Peninsula in New Zealand. State Highway 75 passes through the town. The Onawe Peninsula separates Duvauchelle bay from Barry's Bay.

Mount Pleasant (New Zealand) mountain in New Zealand

Mount Pleasant is the highest elevation in the eastern Port Hills in Christchurch, New Zealand. It once held a Māori pā, but there was little left of it when European settlers first arrived in the 1840s. The hill was first used as a sheep run, and became the base trig station for the survey of Canterbury. It was also used as a signal station to make residents aware of ships coming into Lyttelton Harbour. During World War II, an extensive heavy anti-aircraft artillery (HAA) battery was built near the summit, and the foundations of those buildings still exist.

Nanto-Bordelaise Company

The Nanto-Bordelaise Company — formally La Compagnie de Bordeaux et de Nantes pour la Colonisation de l’Île du Sud de la Nouvelle Zélande et ses Dépendances — was a French company inaugurated in 1839 by a group of merchants from the cities of Nantes and Bordeaux, with the purpose of founding a French colony in the South Island of New Zealand.

Rapaki human settlement in New Zealand

Rapaki is a small settlement within the Whakaraupo Harbour basin.

King Billy Island is a small island in the Lyttlelton Harbour, South Island, New Zealand. The island which is covered entirely in forest, is situated between Quail Island and Moepuku Point off Banks Peninsula.


  1. Hampton, S.J.; J.W. Cole (March 2009). "Lyttelton Volcano, Banks Peninsula, New Zealand: Primary volcanic landforms and eruptive centre identification". Geomorphology. 104 (3–4): 284–298. Bibcode:2009Geomo.104..284H. doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2008.09.005.
  2. "Geology of the Provinces of Canterbury and Westland, New Zealand" (web). New Zealand Texts Collection. NZETC. 1879. Retrieved 23 July 2010.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 "Page 12 – Lyttelton Harbour". Story: Canterbury places. Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand. 13 July 2012.
  4. "Te Whakaraupō – Lyttelton Harbour". Christchurch City Libraries . Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  5. Hight, James; Straubel, C. R. (1957). A History of Canterbury : to 1854. I. Christchurch: Whitcombe and Tombs Ltd. p. 35.
  6. McLintock, A. H., ed. (23 April 2009) [First published in 1966]. "Lyttelton". An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture and Heritage / Te Manatū Taonga . Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  7. "Ngai Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998".
  8. "Ōtamahua / Quail Island Historic Area". Register of Historic Places. Heritage New Zealand . Retrieved 5 July 2019.
  9. "Ōtamahua/Quail Island Recreation Reserve". Department of Conservation . Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  10. 1 2 3 4 "Steamer Express". New Zealand Coastal Shipping. 2003–2009. Retrieved 29 May 2013.

Further reading

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Lyttelton Harbour at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 43°37′S172°44′E / 43.617°S 172.733°E / -43.617; 172.733