Heathcote Valley from the Bridle Path – what has happened in 135 years?


Heathcote Valley from Bridle Path, about 1880 (on the left) and 2015 (on the right).  Click to enlarge

As a pre-Christmas trek,  we walked  the Bridle Path, from the Heathcote Valley over the Port Hills to Lyttelton.  On the way we passed an information board which reminded us of the challenges faced by the early European settlers who arrived in Christchurch in 1850.  The photo on the left, originally from the Canterbury Museum and taken about 1880, appears on the information board.

The early settlers traversed the steep and rough Bridle Path from Lyttelton to the new town of Christchurch.  Horses were often led, carrying supplies, and that is the origin of the Bridle Path’s name.  Then in 1857 the  Evans Pass Road from Sumner to Lyttelton, was completed.

In the photo on the left, the railway line (just behind the lady’s hat) was already in operation. It can also be seen in the 2015 photo.  The rail tunnel was built in 1867.

A major difference in the 2015 photo is the addition of the road (in the foreground) leading to the Lyttelton Road Tunnel.  The road tunnel was opened in 1964.

To the right of the tunnel road  is the base station for the Christchurch Gondola, one of the city’s major tourist attractions.  Opened in 1992, it transports visitors  to the top of Mt Cavendish for views over  Christchurch city, across the Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps and out to Banks Peninsula.

The silver buildings on the hillside in the 2015 photo are horticultural glass houses and tunnel houses.

At the upper centre of both photos the Heathcote River can be seen entering the Avon-Heathcote Estuary.  The Heathcote River is tidal and this creates some apparent differences  before it enters the estuary.

Beyond (above) the estuary, the Bromley Sewage Treatment Ponds appear in the 2015 photo.

More images from a winter trek up the Bridle Path here.






One thought on “Heathcote Valley from the Bridle Path – what has happened in 135 years?

  1. Pingback: The Bridle Path, Christchurch | annettewoodford

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