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Home  »  South Island Walks  »  Lyttelton  »  The Bridle Path – Walk detail

The Bridle Path is a medium 5k walk that will take you around 6 hours. The track is very good. On a fine day the views from the top of the Bridle Path are amazing. When the early settlers arrived in Lyttelton harbour in 1850, they used horse and donkey to climb over the 386m Port Hill, Bridle Path to Christchurch to start a new life, or take a 13K boat ride around the coast.

Quick Facts

        • Location: South Island NZ
        • Distance: 5kms
        • Time needed: 6 Hours
        • Difficulty: Medium
        • Wheelchair Access: No
        • Route: Round Trip
        • Elevation: 386m
        • Wet Feet: No
        • Toilets: No
        • Dogs: Yes
        • Mobile Coverage: Yes
        • Last Updated: November, 2019
  • Track Highlights

    When you arrive at the top and you have the time, walk up to the cable car for a coffee etc. As for the views on a fine day, nothing but the best.

  • Track Quality

    The Bridle Path is very good, you can 4×4 it. But the Cavendish and Hornbrooks Track is a different story

  • Hazards

    It can get very cold and wet on the ridge line, be prepared.

  • Transport

    Plenty of buses or taxi into Lyttelton

  • Water


  • Driving Instructions


  • Shops or Restaurants nearby

    All in Lyttelton

  • Area & Track History

    Around 1850 the early settlers used horse or donkey to climb over the Port Hill to Christchurch. In 1857, C W Bishop ran a daily cart and pack horse service over the Bridle. This track became known as the Bridle Path, because the path was so steep that pack horses needed to be led by the bridle. Goods that were too heavy or bulky to be transported by pack horse over the Bridle Path were shipped by small sailing vessels some eight miles (13 km) by water around the coast and up the estuary to Ferrymead then on to Christchurch. A railway tunnel was bored through the Port Hills to Lyttelton in 1867, a road tunnel was opened in 1964. Christchurch became a city by Royal Charter on 31 July 1856, the first in New Zealand.

  • Best Things To Do near this walk

  • Map location of The Bridle Path

    Map of walk

Points of interest along the walk

In the map above, if you zoom in on the walk, you’ll see all the following track points and their location. Each point has photos along with a description about each one.

Point 1: The Start in Lyttelton

From the main st in Lyttelton, walk up London St to Coleridge and Hawkhurst Rd. Walk another 20m and The Bridle Path is on your left. You now have 600m to go. At the start of the Bridle Path there is a brief information board for you to read. And a wooden seat for you to sit down and rest the legs. The higher up the mountain you climb, the views of the harbour improve. Especially on a fine day. But it can also be very cold and wet place to be.

Point 2: At the top of The Bridle Path

Half way to the top there is a spot to sit down and enjoy the fantastic views of Lyttelton harbour. But on a cloudy day it can be very cold. The old concrete building on the walk is just minutes from the top. We were lucky to observe a nest of baby birds sheltering in one corner of the building. At the top there is a shelter for you to get out of the bitter winds and rain, if need be. Views of Lyttelton harbour and Christchurch can be quite stunning as well as the gondola. The only way to the gondola is by walking the track. There is no road or foot path for you to follow. The track starts from behind the shelter, just follow the markers along the top of the ridge.

Point 3: Cavendish Track To Hornbrooks Track

The track starts from behind the shelter just follow the markers along the top of the ridge. 4 minutes from the shelter should see you at the turn off to the Cavendish Track. The turn off to the left is an uphill climb to the gondola. The walk around the side of the bluff is through small stands of bush, which gives you protection from the chilling winds. At the next turn off if you walk straight ahead, it will take you up to the Summit Road and the Gondola. You need to turn to the right to get on to the downhill track. This will lead you to Hornbrooks Track. You can see the track running out down the valley to your right.

Point 4: Back to Lyttelton

You can’t go wrong from here on, just follow the dirt track down to the built up area. Give the Chalmers Loop Track a miss. The quickest way back to Lyttelton is to turn left, walk the 30m to Cornwall Rd then turn right. Then it’s a 5 minute downhill walk into Lyttelton and a flat white coffee.

All walks in Lyttelton…

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Contact info

Bridle Path, Heathcote Valley, Christchurch, New Zealand

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