Christchurch Gondola, Heathcote Valley, New Zealand

The Gondola in Christchurch, is a major tourist attraction run by Welcome Aboard, who also run attractions such as the Caterpillar Tour in the Botanical gardens, and the Tram (which is no longer, currently).

The Gondola has been open and running since 1992, but had a short break of being open from February 2011 to April 2013 following the earthquake; a boulder from the Port Hills fell through the base station, and the building flooded. However, following renovations it is now open.

Based in Heathcote Valley; a suburb within Christchurch (approx. a twenty minute drive from the city centre). The Gondola takes a ten minute ride up to Mt Cavendish in the Port Hills, from there you can walk the Crater Rim  as well as a number of other walks.

View of the Port Hills

I decided to go up on the Gondola a few weeks ago when I had my friend from the UK visiting; it was stunning.

The Gondola car at the top

Getting to the base of the Gondola is easily accessible by car (twenty minutes), and there is plenty of parking on site. However, if you do not have a car there is a direct bus, which runs every 30 minutes from central station (number 28 to Lyttelton), with a stop directly outside the base site. This costs $3.20 or $2.80 if you have a metro card.


At the entrance of the Gondola attraction

The Gondola is open between 10am and 5pm Monday to Friday, and costs $25 for adults, $12 for children and has a family pass option (2 adults, 2 children) for $65.

Another one of those world signs. I always marvel at the distance I am between here and home

The day my friend and I decided to go up was one of the best days in a 10 day period; we had previously had freezing temperatures and a lot of rain so to have blue skies and sunshine with little wind was so refreshing.

The ride up to the summit was mostly smooth and appeared to go on forever. At the top you take a short walk through the usual tourist shop and café and up a few flights of stairs to get to the observation deck.

The Gondola making its way up (view from the top)

From the observation deck, the views are stunning; from Lyttelton port, to New Brighton to Christchurch Central, the views stretch out to the mighty Southern Alps, which on my visit were snow-capped.

View of Lyttelton Port
View of New Brighton Beach

We spent time walking around the deck taking in the views, taking photos and videos. Later we wandered downstairs to a new aspect of the Gondola attraction called the Time Tunnel; which is a short ten minute journey on a small train like cart, telling the story of how Christchurch and Canterbury being to be and where it is now going following the earthquakes. It was quite interesting, and taught me some things.

Our trip to the Gondola was around 4pm, so by the time we had made our way up around the attraction, the sun was setting, so we went to the newly branded Red Rock Café and had a hot drink whilst watching the sun go down. It was stunning.

Sun setting over the Southern Alps
On the way down to the base station – a view over Christchurch CBD

If you are in Christchurch, even for half a day I would recommend this as something to do; take a picnic up on a warm day, and get in a bit of hiking around – the views from the Port Hills have been out of bounds for quite a bit of time for most Cantabrians. I will definitely be returning in warmer weather.

Video from the top

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