Summit Road, Christchurch

The Summit Road is one of Christchurch's greatest assets, at least from a motorcycling point of view.  It offers sufficient challenge for novice to experienced riders, the feeling of being on a little used country road, while still being very accesible and available.

The road itself has a long and interesting history, construction having started during the Depression of the 1930's.  It was intended to be a tourist asset, although surprizingly it is little used to this day.  It runs along the rims of various extinct volcanoes that make up Banks Peninsula, and has two sections, physically seperated from each other due to the two parts never having been linked. 

The easiest to get to is the section between Gebbies Pass to the south and west and Sumner to the east.  This is the part that is best suited to quick lunchtime rides, designed to get the adrenaline pumping before a return to work.  To do this, go up Columbo Street to the Sign of the Takahe, the end of the built up area.  There is a good climb up to the Sign of the Kiwi, though you will need to watch for traffic as this section can be reasonably busy.  Turn either right or left at the top. 

Turning to the right for the least busy section of road.  You follow the crater rim through some spectacular country with great views of the harbour on one side and the open plains on the other.  This goes along with minimal rise and fall until you are almost at Gebbies Pass, where a relatively short and steep downhill completes the ride.  Take the road back through Governers Bay and over the top back through to the city via Colombo Street or, if you want a less interesting but longer ride back, turn right through some nice twisties to the Black Tulip, then through Tai Tapu and Halswell back in to town.

If you instead turn left, you are again traveling along the crater rim, with great views over the harbour and the city.  There are some blind corners here, so familiarity with the road is definitely recommended.  The road passes under the Mount Cavendish Gonola (remember to wave to the passengers as you pass beneath them).  You are likely to encounter occasional joggers, cyclist and motorists, so some care is required.  The last section, past the road down to Mount Pleasant, tightens considerably and will challenge your abilities to ride twisties on changing gradients.

The second section is an alternate route through to Akaroa, from the Hilltop pub at the top of the road from Little River to Barrys Bay.  See the Little River-Akaroa page for details.

Copyright Steve Carr, 1999-2007

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