John Jameson Lookout – A special place
The John Jameson Lookout provides one of the best views in Christchurch. The lookout sits beneath Ōrongomai within the takiwā of Ngāti Wheke. From the Sign of the Kiwi café, follow the Summit Road south for 4.5km until you see the Sign of the Bellbird. The John Jameson Lookout is located directly opposite this old stone shelter.
In creating the lookout, the Summit Road Society set out to provide a safe and accessible viewpoint over Whakaraupō Lyttelton Harbour, a site which weaves together the rich stories of this place and provides a gateway to the network of walking tracks on the Port Hills.
The lookout is the result of years of work by many people. It includes Port Hills stone walls in the style of Harry Ell, a pou whenua, interpretation panels and an accessible viewing area, all complemented by native plantings.
The pou whenua was carved by kaiwhakairo Caine Tauwhare. The design of the pou speaks to the significance of this site to Ngāti Wheke of Rāpaki. In keeping with the wishes of the carver, the story behind the pou is shared a-waha (verbally).
Stone wall and plaque acknowledging John Jameson
The stone walls stand as an acknowledgement of the dedicated service of John Jameson, the founder of the Summit Road Society, and all the volunteers who have worked to protect and restore the Port Hills.
Panorama of Whakaraupō Lyttelton Harbour
When you visit, please read the interpretation panels which provide further historical information. A particular highlight is the panorama located below the lookout which names significant wāhi (places) around the harbour.
This project was many years in the making. Discussions were underway when the earthquakes struck and this project was placed on hold. The project resumed in 2018 and a series of concept drawings were prepared and circulated for feedback. The Summit Road Society worked in partnership with the Christchurch City Council and Te Hapū o Ngāti Wheke and consulted widely with key partners and the wider community to finalise the design.
The Society fundraised to pay for the cost of the lookout. Construction began in May 2022. The lookout was completed in 2023, to mark the Society’s 75th anniversary.
Harry Ell worked tirelessly to establish the network of reserves on the Port Hills, the Summit Road and the four rest houses including the Sign of the Bellbird. Following WWII, his grandson John Jameson was horrified to discover that the reserves had been grazed and the rest houses had been vandalised. He pushed for the creation of a protection society and in 1948 the Summit Road Society was formed.
John was a leading figure in the Society for many years and was awarded Honorary Life Membership in 1983. He had long advocated for the enhancement of the carpark area above the Society’s Ōhinetahi Reserve. John passed away in 2018 at the age of 97 after a long life of service.
Many people and organisations helped make this project a reality. We thank Graham Densem Landscape Architect (project designer and overseer), Nic Kay of NK Landscape Architecture (landscape architect), Andy Hall and the team at Davie Lovell-Smith (contract engineer and project manager), Hayden Greene and the team at Maugers Contracting (earthworks), Groundwork 2003 (subcontract for concrete foundations), Fulton Hogan (subcontract for asphalt paving), David Packman and the team at Southern Stonemasons Canterbury (all stonework), Regan Shanks Stone Masonry (monumental mason – plaque), Caine Tauwhare (kaiwhakairo/carver – pou whenua), Materia Hutana, Donald Couch, Yvette Couch-Lewis, Maui Stuart, Andrew Scott and the whānau of Ngāti Wheke (cultural guidance and advice), Paul Devlin, Rodney Chambers and the team at the Christchurch City Council (consents, advice and practical assistance), Taege Engineering (balustrade and plinth), Craig Randall and the team at Sign Tech (interpretation panels and plane table), Alex Hubert of Odyssey Films (photography), Bill Kennedy (tracks map), Wai-ora Forest Landscapes (plant supply), Helen Hills (plant supply), Banks Peninsula Community Board (approval and support), Summit Road Protection Authority (approval and support), Rod Donald Banks Peninsula Trust (support with funding applications), Living Springs (support with funding applications), Summit Road Society volunteers: Ōhinetahi volunteer work party (landscape planting), Board (project monitoring and administration) and members (feedback and support).
Thank you as well to our funders: Christchurch City Council, Harry Ell Summit Road Memorial Trust, Rātā Foundation, JD Stout Memorial Trust (care of Perpetual Guardian), Lotteries Environment and Heritage Fund, Lyttelton Port Company, Rod Donald Banks Peninsula Trust, Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga and donations in time, resources and money from Summit Road Society members and other individuals and families.