Crater Rim Walkway

  • 1 day one way
  • Easy/medium

Follow the ridge of the volcanic Port Hills above Christchurch.

Pegasus Bay • By Matthew. Licence: C.
Key information
Walking time
1 day
9 hr
One way
One way
No bookings — open access
No — open access
Find it
Ahuriri Scenic Reserve, Summit Road, Christchurch
Godley Head
200m – 500m
Altitude change 300m
More information

The Crater Rim Walkway follows the arcing rim of the extinct Lyttelton Volcano, from Ahuriri Reserve in the south out to Awaroa / Godley Head in the east.  The trail explores the history, geology, and remnant native vegetation of the area.

Snow on Mount Herbert, Banks Peninsula's highest point at 920m. Looking across Lyttelton Harbour from beneath Mount Cavendish. • By Matthew.

The track is well accessed by the Summit Road, and most popularly walked in short segments. The central sections are busy, but the ends feel relatively isolated and remote.

With the new Godley Head Campsite now in place, you could now walk the track as an overnight trip: a handy first tramp for kids perhaps. Just decide how far you want to walk, then start that distance back from Godley Head!

Sections of the track cross private property. Keep to the track on these sections.

Ahuriri Scenic Reserve to Sign of the Bellbird

Driving along Summit Road, head on past Rhodes Spring and Gibralter Rock, to a pocket of bush. Tōtara and kahikatea at the roadside give it a damp West Coast feel, although just half an hour from the central city. The road tips over into Lyttelton Harbour and crosses a cattle stop. This is the start of the Crater Rim Walkway.  Parking here is scratchy, by the cattle stop or a little farther down the road. 

Head up some steps into a classic Port Hills forest of tree fuchsia and horopito. Out in moments onto a grassy ridge, the track heads toward Coopers Knob / Ōmawete (573m). This is the first of a series of dramatic outcrops, near vertical on the harbour side and gently sloping on the city flanks. The track eases over the back of the knob through a patch of forest with wind-sculpted tōtara trees then climbs out onto grass and dropping back toward the road. A track leading up onto the summit of Coopers Knob heads off to the right.

Passing Living Springs deep in the valley on the harbour side, the track climbs through forest and harakeke out onto the sloping back of a bluff. 

The next landmark is Cass Peak / Ō-Rongo-Mai (545m) with its distinctive air traffic control dome. Cass Peak was badly burned by the January 2017 wildfires. The track sidles through burned scrub on the harbour side before leading into a delightful pocket of forest beneath bluffs. Watch for a switch-back and rocky climb up out of the forest into scrubby, burned over forest. If you are heading southbound, it is easy to miss the track and end up on a steep rocky outcrop here — retrace your steps. The track leads through fully burned forest, past a couple of beech trees to the Sign of the Bellbird car park. A covered shelter and toilet is located here. 

Governors Bay and the Crater Rim • By Matthew.

Sign of the Bellbird • Shelter (Christchurch City Council).

Sign of the Bellbird to Sign of the Kiwi

The Sign of the Bellbird and Sign of the Kiwi were planned as rest houses to serve travellers on the Summit Road. While the Sign of the Bellbird is now simply a stone shelter, the Kiwi still serves as a busy cafe. They are linked by a short and easy section of the Crater Rim Walkway.

From the Bellbird car park, a track climbs up the ridge past a tōtara tree, over red volcanic soil and through burned scrub. As the track climbs up and over Mount Ada, Ella's Track veers off around the eastern slopes. Mount Ada was thoroughly burned by the January 2017 fires, although replanting is under way.

Beyond Mount Ada, the track drops to the car park at the top of the Bivvy Track and wanders easily next to the road. passing the top of the Bush Road and Watlings Tracks, the track enters Hoon Hay Scenic Reserve, climbing up through harakeke. The grassy track passes the end of the Trig V side track and drops down to the Hoon Hay car park. Cross Summit and Worsleys Roads here to the track continuing on a scorched hillside above the Summit Road. The track soon crosses back, passes some matagouri scrub and winds around Coronation Hill. The Sign of the Kiwi is located at the busy junction of Summit and Dyers Pass Roads. Aside from the cafe, toilets and a water fountain are located here.

Walking times

  • Ahuriri Scenic Reserve to Sign of the Bellbird: 1 hour 15 minutes, 4.4km
  • Sign of the Bellbird to Sign of the Kiwi: 1 hour, 4.4km
  • Remainder to come


ID 208

About this track

Added 1 June 2001 by MatthewMatthew. 3 revisions, most recently 13 September 2017 by MatthewMatthew.
424 views in the past year (35 per month).