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Christchurch and Banks Peninsula Cruising Guide

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43°31.8′S, 172°37.22′E
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Two major recent earthquakes, the latest a Richter 6.3 on 22 Feb, 2011, have left Christchurch city in a mess. Until normality is restored it should be realized that some facilities aren't readily available.

A further series of quakes on June 13 shook the battered town, with the largest registering 6.0

Christchurch is serviced by the commercial port of Lyttelton. Lyttelton Harbour lies in one of two extinct volcanoes which forms Banks Peninsula named after Sir Joseph Banks, the famous Botanist and sponsor of Captain Cook's first voyage of discovery. Lyttelton is an historic port town which received the first immigrant ships organised by the Canterbury Corporation. The area was in fact settled much earlier by the pre-Adamite settlers, as early as the 1840's. Mariori lived in the Banks Penisula area for centuries before the English and French settlers and the region has many interesting cruising destinations including the pituresque Akaroa Harbour.

Lyttelton Harbour, the port of Christchurch
Click for larger view

A Banks Peninsula Cruising Guide is available to purchase from Naval Point Club, this 97 page publication covers the many bays and anchorages on the peninsula rarely visited by foreign cruising yachts. This guide also covers the entire east coast of the south island from the Marlborough Sounds to Bluff.

Unless you're of shallow draft, in which case moorings may be hired in Moncks Bay closer to Christchurch, visitors to Christchurch really need to look at berthing, anchoring and mooring arrangements in the port of Lyttelton, rather than Christchurch proper. The two main berthing opportunities in Lyttelton are at Magazine Bay, managed by the Naval Point Club just outside the main harbour, or Dampier Bay inside the harbour where fore-and-aft pile berths are available.

Local Weather

Christchurch has a temperate climate, with maximum temperatures in January ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59–77°F) (often reaching 30°C/86°F or higher), and maximum temperatures in July ranging from 5°C to 15°C (41–59°F). The summer climate is often moderated by a sea breeze from the northeast, but a record temperature of 41.6°C (107°F) was reached in February 1973. A notable feature of the weather is the nor'wester, a hot turbulent wind that occasionally reaches storm force.

In winter it is common for the temperature to fall below 0°C (32°F) at night. There are on average 36 days of ground frost per year. Snow falls occur on average once or twice a year in the hill suburbs and about once or twice every two years on the plain.

Sources for weather forecasts:


Local information holds that charts of Lyttelton Harbour published before the earthquake in 2010 are of limited value. Depths in the harbour have shifted, in some places by up to a metre or so. Pay attention to your depth sounder and the navigation buoys inside the harbour if you are relying on old chart data. The bathymetric surveys of the harbour are yet to be verified since the earthquake.

LINZ Chart Catalogue

New Zealand Charts
NZ632 - Banks Peninsula
NZ6321 - Lyttleton Harbour
NZ6324 - Akaroa Harbour

Radio Nets

See New Zealand.

Also see World Cruiser's Nets.

Approach and Navigation

See Chart NZ6321 - Lyttleton Harbour.

Entering Lyttleton Harbour during all hours is simple. The entrance itself is wide and deep, with few dangers all easily spotted. The town of Lyttleton itself provides ample guidance and the harbour entrance is well lit as is the entrance to Magazine Bay / Naval Point (see below).

If you are entering at night and aren't heading for a berth in the inner harbour or Magazine Bay, it does pay to be aware of depths in other parts of the harbour. There are a few unlit obstructions which are present in the southern part of the bay, and although these are easily spotted during the daylight, they may be missed at night.

Check-in facilities (for Customs and Immigration)

Lyttleton is the Customs check-in point for Christchurch. (Lyttelton Port Company Website)

Berthing Options

Marinas & Yacht Clubs

Christchurch Yacht Club

The Christchurch Yacht Club operates a small number of swing moorings in Moncks Bay, near Sumner in Christchurch. To access these moorings, a crossing of the Sumner Bar is required. This can only be done at high tide, when the sea is smooth, and with local knowledge. To gain assistance in crossing the bar contact the yacht club and ask for the details of anyone who can assist with this (you should do this some time before attempting the crossing). You will need a local guide on board when entering or exiting the bar.

I am told that only reasonably shallow to moderate drafted vessels (say 1.8m draft or less) with a length of 39 feet or less may cross the bar and access the moorings.

Naval Point Club

The Naval Point Club is located in Lyttelton Harbor and has approximately 900 members. The club has an active racing and social scene and employs one full time and 2 part time staff to manage club activities, Magazine Bay marina and the club haul out yard. The club has swing moorings located around the peninsula.

Magazine Bay Marina

Magazine Bay, Lyttelton Harbour
Click for larger view

Magazine Bay Marina is a walk on access pile marina with water and power managed by Naval Point Club for the Christchurch City Council, visiting berths are available contact the club. Last check around January 2014 indicated prices were around $NZ260 per month for a pile berth including water and power.

Contact Ken Camp, the Naval Point Club secretary/manager on +64 3 328 7029 or +64 29 384 7935 for information or bookings. Shower and toilet facilities are available. Some quite large yachts are berthed here, depth appears to be no difficulty.

The marina is not a floating berth marina. After acquiring a berth number and identifying it, you will need to motor into the berth, between a pile which will be at either side of the berth. Most boats appeared to be tied with their sterns facing south. Tie long bow lines to the wharf itself and then ease back, to pick up a floating ring on each of the piles, to which stern lines may be tied. At low tide, tighten your stern lines as far as they will go to ensure that the bow lines are taut. You should seek local knowledge about this -- one of the other berth tenants or liveaboards will probably offer to assist. It's very much a DIY marina -- you will need strong bow lines to survive a south-westerly (which can come through the marina in strengths of 60 knots or more, with little warning), and you will need to be back far enough in your berth so that your boat cannot touch the pylons -- in a high tide with a south-wester the seas can break over the wharf and boats have been known to ride up on top of the pylons causing extensive damage.

Power connections are also a bit DIY -- if you are not a NZ vessel with an NZ electrcal warrant of fitness it may be possible to obtain a connecting cable between the power inlet of your vessel and the power connectors on shore, but in any case you may or may not find a power connection near your vessel.

Note: Due to the floating breakwater for this marina being destroyed in 2000 it is recommended to relocate if a strong southerly is forecast to the lee of Quail Island, Inner Harbor or Swing Mooring. This also applies to anchoring off Magazine Bay marina. To be fair, however, the type of strong southerly that will cause damage in the marina itself is extremely unlikely to occur during the summer months when most visiting yachts are likely to be present -- due to the climate, the South Island of NZ is not likely to be a popular cruising ground during the winter except for yachts harbouring briefly from worse weather even further south. Extended stays in the marina of several months during the summer months are unlikely to be a problem.

Dampier Bay Inner Shipping Harbor

Dampier Bay Marina, Lyttelton Harbour
Click for larger view

Dampier Bay Inner Shipping Harbor has pile moorings, it is safe in all weather and temporary berths are sometimes available.

Phone the Manager, Phil Fraser, on +64 3 328 7992 or +64 27 5835831 after hours.

There is a small walk-on berth for which short stays can be made for pick-up and drop-off, and there appears to be ample dinghy storage.

Akaroa Cruising Club

Akaroa Yacht Club
Click for larger view

Akaroa Cruising Club is located near the Akaroa township and has a active racing and cruising scene. The club can organise temporary swing moorings and has a pile jetty.


  • Anchorages around the Peninsula are best seen by buying a copy of the Banks Peninsula Cruising Guide
  • Lyttelton harbor has excellent holding with a sticky mud bottom, various anchorages for different wind conditions. Be careful of depth, some of the outer and southern parts of the harbour are deceptively inviting but quite shoal. Additionally, some of the chart data for the harbour may be incorrect -- ground levels have risen in some areas and fallen in other areas due to the effects of the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. Nothing has moved by more than half a metre or so, but take care
  • Also be aware that the roads to some of the anchorages, should you choose to anchor out of Lyttleton harbour, are somewhat difficult. In February 2013, I found that the road to Governor's Bay was quite badly degraded and showing signs of land sinkage and slippage (the local term for earthquake damage is "munted") and a fairly difficult drive despite being sealed tarmac the entire way. I would not like to do this drive at night

Offshore Islands and Groups

  • Quail Island within Lyttleton Harbour is a recreation reserve, has a number of safe swimming beaches, and can be visited by private water craft, however camping ashore is prohibited. Check the depths especially to the south side of the island before approaching or anchoring. The channel between Quail Island and the mainland is not navigable unless the tide is high
  • There are no other nearby offshore islands, except the Chatham Islands at about 420nm due east
  • Although not an offshore island, a visit to Akaroa Harbour is well worth while

Yacht Repairs and Services

Marine Stores

  • Boat Marine Mail
  • Burnsco has a store on Blenheim Road in Christchurch. This has the disadvantage of being a long way from the marinas in either Lyttelton or Sumner, but there are a range of other shops nearby including Bunnings (general hardware) and various other specialty outlets.



Marine Electrical

  • Ken Watson Marine Services Ltd. Contact 03329 4464

Fuel, Water, & Electricity

There is no garage/service station in Lyttleton, Small fuel trucks service the fishing boats in the inner harbor and can be arranged via Phil Fraser at the Dampier bay marina office. Otherwise fuel must be brought by jerrycan from Christchurch.
Water is available from Magazine bay marina, the floating jetty in the inner harbor and from the Akaroa cruising club jetty
Electricity is available in the Magazine bay marina

Things to do Ashore


Christchurch is, or at least once was, a very pretty city with a lot of colonial period architecture, gardens, river walks, etc. Since the earthquake it has become quite "munted" as the locals say, and Lyttelton is even more broken. However this does not detract from the vistas around the surrounding countryside, the nearby skiing and other mountain attractions, and the proximity to other South Island tourist centres such as Queenstown and Fjordland.

Tourism New Zealand dedicates ranges of pages to South Island activities, all of which are most easily accessed from Christchurch, and so I won't begin to list them all here.

Grocery & Supply Stores

  • There is no supermarket in Lyttleton, though there is the corner store (referred to in NZ as a "dairy" although there are no cows being milked there) and the Lyttelton Co-Op for some foodstuffs - and the Saturday Lyttelton Farmers Market on London Street
  • Nearest supermarkets would be in Christchurch city -- a short bus ride away


  • Freemans (Cnr London and Canterbury Sts, same intersection as the library) is great and they do utterly delicious $15 pizza and pasta Monday-Thursday
  • There are a couple of fish'n'chip shops, some businesses carrying on in Portacoms and caravans, and the Port Hole container bar
  • A few more restaurants have opened recently, check local information at the Naval Point club
  • Lyttleton was once a popular dining destination for locals as well as residents of Christchurch but suffered badly in the earthquakes. More places are re-opening as rebuilding progresses.


Free WiFi is available from Lyttelton Library. It's on 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week and you can sit outside after hours and use it.


There is a single washing machine (household grade, small size) at the Naval Point Club Marina. It is free to use. Ask for a swipe card to access the shower/toilet facilities from the club office.

There appear to be no laundry services in Lyttelton. The nearest ones are in Christchurch. Two laundry services in Christchurch near transport routes are:

  • Figlo on Gloucester St near Fitzgerald Ave. Open 7 days and has parking available
  • The somewhat unusual Addington Coffee Co-op which serves fresh roasted fairtrade coffee, other food & drinks, sells freeset clothing and also has a laundry service

Motorbike & Car Rentals

Garbage Disposal



Transportation (local and/or international)

  • From Lyttelton your first destination is the nearby city of Christchurch, which is quite a pretty although currently heavily earthquake damaged city. Major international and domestic airlines operate out of Christchurch although most international services will be routed via Sydney or Auckland
  • To get to Christchurch, either travel by the metro service no. 28 bus, or take a taxi. Taxi costs in Christchurch are comparable with other cities in Australia / New Zealand, which means that a taxi fare to the city from Lyttelton will cost around $NZ30.00. The airport is on the far side of Christchurch from Lyttelton and so approximately double that taxi fare will get you there.
  • If you're a cyclist, you'll need to be aware that the main route from Lyttelton to Christchurch goes via a tunnel, in which bikes are prohibited. However the no. 28 buses each have a bike rack on the front which takes 2 bikes
  • From Christchurch city you'll be able to book bus fares to other South Island destinations, including the alpine ski-fields, mountain hot springs resorts and many others. There is an information booth in the city although it will pay to ask around as to where it is currently located as its main building was destroyed in the recent earthquake.

Routes/Passages To/From

Popular passages/routes, timing, etc.

Cruiser's Friends

Contact details of "Cruiser's Friends" that can be contacted for local information or assistance.

Forum Discussions

List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)

External Links

In all cases it pays to check the date of information you have about Christchurch and Lyttelton. Although the city and town were extensively damaged during the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, rebuilding is happening at a fairly rapid pace and information that mentions that something is open or closed may change at a later date.

References & Publications

Personal Notes

  • Delatbabel -- arrived at Naval Point Club marina in January 2014. Interesting weather! See my blog for further details.
Last Visited & Details Checked (and updated here)

Date of member's visit to this Port/Stop & this page's details validated:

  • September 2011, Pedro , land based visit.
  • February 2013, Del, land based visit.
  • January 2014, Delatbabel


SailorSmiley.gifContributors to this page

Names: Haiqu, Kestrahl, Pedro Delatbabel

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