Tim Stead - Fantasy Writer

January 10th 2015 - Godley Head

Looking Back Boulder Bay Baches Gun Emplacement

We've walked a couple of times on Godley Head now. It's a sea cliff walk, but in summer almost a desert walk as well. The path runs through bleached grass and the occasional cluster of succulents with red flowers. Gulls and shags fly below the path and the occasional elegant pair of terns swoop by. ut at sea there are usually one or two ships waiting for a pilot to take them into Lyttleton Harbour.

The walk begins at Taylors Mistake. There is no certainty as to how the name arose, though it seems likely that the bay was mistaken for either Sumner, to the north, or Lyttleton to the south, and probably at night, by a vessel that ran aground. There are various candidates, but the name seems to have originated at least as early as 1853.

The walk passes by a series of baches, rising up onto open grassland. A bach (usually pronounced the same as the english word 'batch') is a small cottage, traditionally contructed by its owner in a makeshift manner, designed to serve as a holiday home or place for fishermen to sleep overnight. The word has become almost, but not quite synonymous with a holiday home. The first ones at Taylors Mistake date from the 1890's.

This is a pretty wild coast. After the mistake there are no beaches and no easy access to the sea. Surf breaks on the rocks below the path and looking east the next stop would probably be Chile. The path, however, is remarkably well made and easy to walk.

About half way to the heads there are more baches down below the path. This is Boulder Bay. These are so isolated that the building materials were, it is said, originally shipped in by rowing boat. They do have power, however, and it seems odd that so small and few temporary residences should have inspired someone to put in power poles and run cables a couple of miles across country just to service them.

On past the baches there are a couple of short climbs up switchback paths. The first ends at the first gun emplacement - built to defend Lyttleton and Christchurch during the second world war, but never used in anger. All that remains now are the concrete footings and the rusting metal frames of the ammunition lockers. Up the second climb and there is a more elaborate defensive position, currently fenced off and closed to the public. Just beyond this the views open up into Lyttleton Harbour and beyond that to the Banks Peninsula that lies beyond.

The choice now is either to return the way you came, which is easy and obvious, or to climb up to Summit Road and on to the trig point on the hill above, descending once more across Summit Road and down the Anaconda track to join the path once again almost back at the Mistake. The short version took about two easy hours and the longer about three.