|A day trip to Lyttelton was today's activity. Lyttelton is a small port on the other side of the Port Hills, south east of Christchurch. It is largely famous for being the historical port serving Christchurch, where the first settlers disembarked and made their way over the hills to the plains, as well as being the main staging post for most major Antarctic expeditions, including Scott's and Shackleton's ill-fated attempts.
It's only half an hour or so on the bus and the route takes you pass the Gondola (a cable car that takes the less adventurous to the top of the Port Hills) and on through a road tunnel - it was the world's longest for a short period in the 1860s. The town nestles inside an ancient semi-circular volcanic crater, giving the town a somewhat cosy feel.
We stopped briefly for a coffee in a recently renovated concert hall on London Street, the main boulevard. It was nearly One O'clock however, so I rushed out to set my timepiece against the other major landmark in the town - the Timeball station. Up on the hill above the town is a gothic style building with a tower that looks out over the bay. At precisely 12.57 each day, a large copper ball is hoisted to the top of a pole and on the stroke of 1pm, it descends. It was designed to help sailors out in the bay set their clocks, and although no longer needed for that purpose, it still happily continues its job - I, at least, was grateful for its accuracy today.
We took the ferry across the bay to Diamond Harbour to take a walk along the coastline. It was a very pleasant day and we spent the afternoon on the coastal track below the village of Diamond Harbour, Kate taking innumerable pictures of flowers and other small-scale natural features, while I ambled along, occasionally stopping to sketch a scene across the harbour (pretentiously taking a few tips from John Ruskin on the value of sketching to truly "see" the landscape, don'cha know).
We walked back through the village, contemplating buying one of the vacant plots of land overlooking the bay (harsh financial reality soon shook me from this dream), and stopped off at Godley House for a drink before catching the return ferry.
We managed to cram some fish and chips in before we caught the bus back to town. We quite liked Lyttelton and I might make another day trip out soon, particularly if my watch loses time again.