NewZealandAtoZ reviews; Christchurch Gondola, Mt Cavendish.
It was a fine sunny autumn day in Christchurch, so off to the Gondola we went.
I decided to go with my 10 month old son. The Gondola is about 10kms from the centre of Christchurch City on Mount Cavendish (the rim of a long extinct volcano).
Christchurch Gondola Base Station looking up Mt Cavendish towards Summit Station
Buses run often getting to and from the Gondola from the city. The car park is large enough that parking is no problem if you decide to drive.
When we arrived at the base station we walked in and approached the friendly looking man at the ticket box and received our ticket (the cost is $22 for an adult).
We were off, straight through the doors and onto the gondola (no waiting, it was during the week). This is where it got a bit tricky, don't try and get a Mountain Buggy style child's buggy into the gondola alone. The staff will stop the gondola and help, but in hindsight I would have carried him. Once on the gondola, the ride was relaxing as the view of Christchurch opened up. After a nice ride up the staff stopped the gondola and helped us out. The entry to the summit station was straight into the souvenir packed tourist shop.
Summit Station Entry Christchurch Gondola
We got through the shop and decided to go on the free Time Tunnel ride, lots of stairs confronted us so I asked if there was a lift to get down, the reply was yes but it would be easier to leave the stroller in the office at the top and carry the little guy. We did this and hopped on the 4 person amusement type ghost train ride. It was a good way to start our gondola tour and we learnt all about the area with a good amount of information in the 6 minute ride. We got off the train with another couple from the UK and were all a bit disorientated. The only obvious sign was one pointing up the stairs saying ‘Exit', since we did not want to leave we went the other way and ended up in the shop again. We all turned around and headed up the stairs to the ‘exit' which was where the gondola restaurant, cafe and lookout are located. There are lots of steps all over the place as the summit complex rises up 4 storeys so it is a bit difficult to get around with a stroller or if you were in a wheelchair, saying that the staff were all very helpful
At the top there is a walkway around the summit complex that gives you great 360 degree views of Pegasus Bay, the Pacific Ocean to Kaikoura, over Banks Peninsula, Lake Ellesmere, Lyttleton Harbour, and across Christchurch City and the Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps. There is a lot of great reading material on boards to let you know what you are looking at.
Low morning cloud over Christchurch with the Southern Alps in the distance from the side of the Summit Station with the information board in the foreground
If you like to walk you could take one of several nature walkways that start from the summit and either make a small circle or go all the way down to the base station.
Overall I enjoyed our Gondola experience and would say it was worth a visit as soon as you arrive in Christchurch. It gives you a great idea of what the region looks like and what you have to deal with if you wanted to walk Banks peninsula. Worth spending a bit of extra time and going for one of the walks on a nice sunny day.
Lyttelton Harbour and the hills of Banks Peninsula
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