1. Magazine Bay
While the city crowds flock to Corsair Bay, locals (and their dogs) head to Magazine Bay for a sunny day swim. Around the back of the yacht club, there’s a wharf for jumping off if you like a quick plunge. Or you walk up and over to the little shelly beach. The Torpedo Boat Museum at Magazine Bay is open from 1-3pm on Sunday afternoons and tells the story of one of four torpedo boats purchased by the New Zealand Government in 1883 in response to a threatened Russian invasion. If it’s not swimming weather, Magazine Bay is a good starting point for a 45-minute bay-side stroll to Pony Point (beyond Cass Bay).
2. Crater Rim Walkway
The hillside tracks are one of Lyttelton’s most cherished local assets. There are five different ways to reach the ridge and the Crater Rim Walkway links them all together so you can choose to be up and down in 45 minutes or spend several hours wandering the hills. If the climb is daunting, you can always take a bus through the tunnel to the gondola and then walk back down into Lyttelton.
3. Quirky shopping
For such a small place, Lyttelton now has a disproportionate number of gift shops. It’s easy to kill an hour wandering between them. Spooky Boogie, which also serves great coffee, is across from the fire station and has a mix of art, vinyl and Japanese kitsch. A few doors down, you’ll find an excellent secondhand bookshop with an eclectic range of antiques and collectables. Henry Trading has a beautiful collection of local and handmade gifts, while Sweet Thursday mixes vintage and imported treasures. Tucked behind the health centre on Oxford Street is what is possibly New Zealand’s best magazine shop, Leslie’s.
4. Eat and drink
There are lots of great food choices in easy reach in Lyttelton. Roots is one of New Zealand’s most celebrated dining experiences, with a “three hats” rating from Cuisine Magazine. A few doors down, Civil and Naval serves up delicious small dishes in a casual pub scene. Freemans is a tasty Italian option for dinner.
Lyttelton Coffee Company and The Shroom Room are a good bet for a hearty breakfast or lunch stop.
5. Diamond Harbour Detour
The cheapest and easiest way to get out on the harbour is to jump on the ferry to Diamond Harbour, where you can go for a walk or a swim, check out the sculptures on Stoddart Point or grab an ice-cream or a meal from one of the two village restaurants. Black Cat, who runs the ferry, also run a ferry to Quail Island and a wildlife cruise of the harbour. (Lyttelton is home to the Hector’s dolphin – one of the smallest and rarest in the world.)