Many cities around the world are instantly recognisable from the mountains or hills that provide a backdrop to the urban environment. So it is with Christchurch, New Zealand, but surely nowhere in the world are the local hills more accessible, more friendly, or more widely used than those that lie between Christchurch and its port at Lyttelton. These hills are known as the Port Hills.
They are part of, and form the western flank of a large, volcanically derived peninsula, known as Banks Peninsula. The Summit Road which provides such easy access around the Port Hills of Christchurch owes much to the vision and drive of one man, H.G. (Harry) Ell. It was his idea to involve the public in the appreciation and enjoyment of the natural assets by ensuring that they had access to the area. To this end he developed the concept of a highway together with walking tracks along the summit of the Port Hills, with rest houses spaced at intervals, and, in the early years of last century he worked unceasingly to achieve his aim. He overcame political difficulties and incredible financial constraints, and had laid the foundations for the Summit Road and its rest houses by the time of his death in 1934.
WHERE IS CHRISTCHURCH?
Christchurch is situated on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. The green highlight is where the Port Hills lie, the Summit Road spans their entire length (35km/21.75mls).