Lyttelton, a sleepy port town, was the arrival point for many of the early Canterbury settlers. The Canterbury Pilgrims' landing place is marked by a rock near the road entrance to the port. A mix of renovated wooden villas and contemporary homes now rises halfway up what was once a volcanic crater. Today, though only 20 minutes' drive from Christchurch, Lyttelton has developed its own distinctive quality, attracting creative types who like the small-town character. Lyttelton was very badly hit by the earthquakes. The biggest loss, historically, was the Timeball Station where, in the days before GPS and atomic clocks, ships would make sure their chronometers were accurate by checking them when the large ball at the Timeball Station was lowered. There are some intriguing places to eat for all budgets; from Roots, which only offers a five- to eight-course degustation menu, to the superfriendly Port Hole Bar’s burritos, to fish-and-chips. Saturday is a good day to come, with a farmers’ market from 10 to 1, then sit and watch what’s going on at this busy little shipping port. Governors Bay and farther round to Diamond Harbour makes a nice half-day drive from the city.


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