Take Your Kid To Diamond Harbor
Ross Elliott believes that there is an ‘elemental need’ for us when growing up to spend time in natural surroundings, and it is a good way for fathers to leave the cave and venture out into nature with their kids.
Diamond Harbour is a great morning or afternoon trip to take your child on because it’s cheap, involves a boat ride and lots of opportunity to explore without being too far from the city. Best of all you don’t need a car!!
The ferry is on the metrocard system, the same as the buses so it pays to get a metrocard from the bus depot in the city as it is subsidised. You can drive to the ferry, park in Lyttelton and walk down to the ferry or alternatively catch the no.28 bus which connects direct to the ferry.
Careful to ask for 3 zones as this will give you free travel for the next 2 hours. If you plan it right it will only cost $3.75 each way including the bus or $3.75 return (if you come back on the ferry within 2 hours) for you and $1.90 for your child (between the ages of 5 and 18). Pre schoolers are free!
The ferry ride is of course a highlight for the kids but the Diamond Harbour area is worthy of an hour or two exploration in itself.
There is a walkway that traverses along the top of the seacliffs in either direction with spectacular views of the harbour.
You have 2 options: turn left and walk towards Purau Bay from the Diamond Harbour wharf, or turn right and head along past the beach to the sea cliffs.
Purau Bay is about an hour each way with a nice beach, playground and picnic area at the end. You can turn around at any stage and head back to the dairy for an ice cream, or Godley House for lunch, play on the large lawn there or relax in the sun with a cold drink or coffee. There are excellent views of Purau Bay, Ripapa Island and towards the harbour entrance from this track.
Turning right from the ferry you walk west past a beach and along the cliffs the other way, about a forty minute walk to the end of the cliffs close to Church Bay.
This walk can really get hot in summer but the beach close to the wharf is sheltered, shallow and great for swimming. In winter it is a very sheltered and sunny option.
Both walks have great views of the harbour and its wildlife. Take binoculars and keep an eye out for the several species of cormorant, terns or the odd gannet fishing, and during summer keep a sharp eye out for the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin, the Hectors, swimming about inside the harbor.
They are very elusive but distinctive with their small rounded and very black dorsal fin (looks like Mickey Mouse’s ear) as they pop up for air every now and then.
White Flippered Penguins can sometimes also be seen although very hard to spot as they are the worlds smallest penguin and they are amazingly camouflaged. About all you can see is a little shy white face the size of a golf ball.