What are the attractions in the area?
Lyttelton Harbour is a long inlet surrounded by many bays, with Governor's Bay, Charteris and Church Bays and Diamond Harbour, the most populated. There are two islands in the harbour, Quail Island and Ripapa (or Ripa) Island, both with incredible histories. Neither of which are inhabited.
However the Black Cat Cruises runs a launch service from Lyttelton, to and from Diamond Harbour on a regular daily time table, as well as charter cruises and frequent trips to Quail Island.
Named after a now extinct native bird, Quail Island is a stunning destination. You can walk the island, or enjoy a day on the safe and sheltered beach. There're public toilets though no shop as such.
The island was a quarantine station and leprosy colony, for the early settlers and the Antarctic explorers, Scott and Shackelton both trained sled dogs and ponies here before heading south to the ice. American commander Admiral Byrd also quarantined animals here.
More recently the island was farmed before being converted to a recreational reserve.
Ripa Island's history is equally rich. In the 19th century it was a fortified Pa for Maori tribe Ngai Tahu, while later, it was also a quarantine station and a fortress for coastal defence. Fort Jervois as it was known, was built in the late 1800's in response to what was perceived as the Russian scare at the time.
Perhaps it's most famous inhabitant was 'Sea Devil', Captain Felix Graf von Luckner, master of the German Raider SMS Seeadler in WWI.
He was transferred here to see out the war, after he and some of his crew had escaped their grounded ship in the Pacific and made their way in open boat to Fiji to steal another. Though they were arrested and sent to New Zealand and a prisoner of war camp in Auckland's Waitemata Harbour. They escaped there too, yet were recaptured in the Kermadec Islands, making world headlines and hence von Luckner was relocated to Ripa Island.
Later a Count, it's said he'd been quite the gentleman during his time in captivity and later sent a letter to his captors in New Zealand, singing their praises and sending them every good wish.
The island is accessible by private boat or kayak from nearby Purau Bay, though don't plan on taking your dog with you, as they're not permitted. These days the place is administered by DOC. (Department of Conservation).