The Lyttelton Rail Tunnel is the longest rail tunnel in New Zealand (2.7km) and was the first tunnel in the world to be hacked through hard volcanic rock.

First Train through Lyttelton Tunnel (

Prior to the tunnel, the bridal path was a zigzag road over the Port Hills and was the only land route, and travelling between Christchurch and Lyttelton by sea was dangerous. The Sumner Bar was shallow and treacherous with many a ship wrecked on it as a result.


On the 9th December 1867, 400 delighted passengers clambered excitedly into the 4 carriages that made up the first train to carry the public through the Port Hills in what was the greatest civil engineering feat up to that time in the young colony. The train ride took only half an hour, with just six and a half minutes actually in the tunnel. It was a staggering improvement on the hard slog previously required by the citizens of Christchurch to reach their town’s harbour at Lyttelton. read more