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Godley Heads Walk

Home  »  South Island Walks  »  Christchurch  »  Godley Heads Walk – Walk detail

Godley Heads walk is a long but very interesting walk, with no shortage of history and amazing views of lyttleton and Christchurch. The first light house was built in April 1865. WW11 guns fortifications. See the cave Frank Walters Shangri-La lived in till 1971

Quick Facts

        • Location: Christchurch
        • Distance: 7 kms
        • Time needed: 3 Hours
        • Difficulty: Easy
        • Wheelchair Access: No
        • Route: Round Trip
        • Elevation: 190m
        • Wet Feet: No
        • Toilets: No
        • Dogs: No
        • Mobile Coverage: Yes
        • Last Updated: November, 2019
  • Track Highlights


  • Track Quality

    It is a very good track all round. Some of the tracks down to the caves etc, can be a little rough.

  • Hazards

    There are a couple of cliffs along the walk, so keep the kids close.

  • Transport

    There is a bus running out to Taylors Mistake

  • Water

    Only at the start of the walk

  • Driving Instructions


  • Shops or Restaurants nearby

    Sumner is only 4.5 km.
    You drive through Sumner to get to the start of the walk.

  • Area & Track History

    In 1900 Godley Head was officially named after John Robert Godley. Godley Head is situated on the Port Hills between Christchurch and Lyttelton harbour. By the 1840’s and 50’s the Canterbury plains was becoming the in place to farm sheep and export the wool from Lyttelton harbour. The port was so busy with ships sailing in and out, a light house was built in April, 1865. But during the Second World War the lighthouse was moved further down the cliff face because it was the in line of fire of the six inch guns fortifications. The lighthouse was electrified in 1946 then made in to an automated light house in 1976.

  • Best Things To Do near this walk

  • Map location of Godley Heads Walk

    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: Taylor’s Mistake Car Park

Taylors Mistake is a popular Christchurch beach. From downtown Christchurch make your way out to Sumner. When you drive through Sumner call in for a coffee or brunch before your long walk out to Godley Heads. After a pleasant brunch get on to Taylors Mistake Road and drive over the hill to Taylors Mistake car park.

Point 2: Harris bay cave

You have two options, walk down to the beach and get your feet wet then cut over to the right and walk up on the track. Or follow the footpath from the car park. The very old bachs have to be pulled down in the next year or two so they might not be there when you walk Godley heads. Within 15 minutes you will walk onto in the first turn off. The track on your right is where you will finish the walk. So take the left track. The track is mainly a clay base, not to good on a wet day. There are no trees to give you any shade along the walk, they were cut down by our great, great grand fathers. Keep an eye out for a goat track on your left, it’s a bit steep but keep walking down the ridge, keep looking for the wider track to the left it will run you around to the cave. Watch out for the sea gulls, and as for the smell. Be prepared to jump out of your skin, as the pigeons take flight the minute you enter the cave. It would make a great place to set up for a night of fishing. The last photo is of the cave

Point 3: Frank Walters Shangri-La

Back on the track, look for the green predator fence .Walk back 5m to the steps running down to Frank Walters Shangri-La. The story goes; Frank and others were kicked out in 1971 by the friendly council again because there were no toilets, power or fresh water. He was moved off to old people flats, where he died three years later. Frank worked for the council, rode his bicycle over to Sumner every day, he pushed his bike up the hills and rode it down the other side. After work, he would call into the local pub for two glasses of energy for the ride home. He also had a small generator in another cave off to the left, which he used to run a wood turning lathe so he could make billiard cues out of drift wood to sell in town. They say the cues were of good quality.

Point 4: Boulder Bay

Boulder Bay. You will kick yourself if you don’t walk down to the beach for lunch. But most of all talk to the locals. They have more information than the Christchurch museum; we were there for two hours. The little white house was built in 1910. From what we were told, it is now protected by the heritage trust. To get to Boulder Bay, carry on walking around to the right and past the gully for about 5 minutes. There is a sty to climb over. It’s a well worn track down to the beach, you won’t get lost. And please be very polite to the locals.

Point 5: Godley Heads Gun Emplacements

Back on the track again, climb out of the gully and uphill. Half way up there is a turn off to the gun emplacement. Only 15 minutes walk. One of the two gun emplacements is a little worse for wear. To walk to the top of Summit Road car park from Taylor’s Mistake should take you 1 hour 30 minutes. You can see the remains of the army building, the word is, a museum will opening up there soon. There are other short walks around the area. One to look for is to the tunnel. The toilets at the car park are very clean, better then in town.

Point 6: Summit Road

From the car park you can look up the hill and see the OP bunkers. So jump the fence by the information board and walk up the hill. 5 minutes up the hill is a turnoff. To the left is for you and to the right is for mountain bikes. But while you are there make your way to the OP bunker. You might have to make way for the sheep; they have commandeered the bunker to get out of the hot sun. The walk around to the road is uneventful. Great views of Lyttleton harbour, we timed it just right to see the harbour pilot boarding a ship while it was steaming up in to Lyttleton harbour to load up with logs. A mountain biker all most run us over and we had to give way to a flock of sheep.

Point 7: Back To The First Turn Off

We crossed the road without being run over. It is easy to see from the road which way the track goes, but who said you have to stick to the track. There is a sign pointing to the left, just 3m past the road, but keep an eye out for mountain bikers, they also use this track. As you can see the track is a breeze to walk on. The next thing is the Anaconda MTB track. Keep going, you will come out on to the first junction you walked pasted at the start of the walk.

All walks in Sumner…

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Contact info

Godley Head Road, Sumner, Christchurch 8081, New Zealand

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