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The Whakaraupo reserve occupies a spectacular site to the West of Lyttelton overlooking the town and Whakaraupo harbour.

It covers approximately 87 hectares. The steep slopes, bluffs, rocky spurs and gullies are generally south-facing.

On three sides of the reserve are other Christchurch City Council reserves – The Tors, the HMS Steadfast block, Castle Rock Reserve, and Heathcote Valley and Mt Cavendish Reserves. Below the southern boundary the land is under freehold tenure. The historic Bridle Path track marks the Eastern boundary and the Summit Road the northern boundary.


Several walking tracks traverse the steep slopes and spurs linking the Crater Rim walkway with Lyttelton. An oil pipeline climbs from Lyttelton to Heathcote via the eastern gully to the Summit Road.

Access to Whakaraupo is from the west end of Harmans Road (where there is some parking), the Summit Road, and the Bridle Path.


The area covered by the reserve was previously farmed, and considerable damage to the natural vegetation of the reserve was done by many years of grazing. In recent years grazing has ceased and this has allowed for the natural regeneration of native species especially on shady slopes and in gullies.

More than half the plant-species found on the reserve are indigenous. These include remnant patches of native forest consisting of mahoe, broadleaf, kowhai, fuchsia, cabbage tree and mapou together with bush nettle and many coprosma species, clusters of native shrubs, a copse of kanuka with other native bush, several areas of dense flax, areas of short tussock and grass, mixed native and exotic plants on rocky outcrops and areas of restoration planting. The reserve includes some rare, extremely rare and threatened native plant species.

The reserve is also covered by a wide range of weedy plants. Broom is widespread. However in most situations on the reserve broom and gorse are seen as beneficial ‘nurse crops’ for regenerating native vegetation. The reserve also includes a number of other weeds which need to be kept under control.

plant griselinia littoralis broadleaf plant cordyline australis cabbage tree
BROADLEAF: Griselinia littoralis is native evergreen tree found throughout New Zealand in forests from sea level to 900m, forming an dense bushy tree with has deep green oval leaves. It grows up to 20 m tall, though often much less, particularly in coastal exposure. It can tolerate a wide range of conditions. CABBAGE TREE: is a familiar sight in swamps or dampish places throughout New Zealand vegetation. It reaches heights of 40 ft at its maximum development with diameters of up to a meter plus. The crown is made up of long, bare branches carrying bushy heads of large, grass like leaves up to a meter long.
plant fuchsia excorticata tree fuchsia plant sophora microphylla kowhai
TREE FUCHSIA: the New Zealand Fuchsia also known as Kotukutuku, is a New Zealand native tree belonging to the family Onagraceae forming a tree to 13 metres with a trunk to 0.6 metres in diameter. It is found commonly throughout New Zealand and as far south as the Auckland Islands. It grows from sea level up to about 1,000 m, particularly alongside creeks and rivers. KOWHAI: are small, woody legume trees in the genus Sophora native to New Zealand. There are eight species, Sophora microphylla being the most common. Kowhai trees grow throughout the country and are a common feature in New Zealand gardens. Most species of Kowhai grow to around 8 m high and have fairly smooth bark with small leaves.
plant melicytus ramiflorus mahoe plant myrsine australis red matipo
MAHOE: or whiteywood is a small tree of the family Violaceae endemic to New Zealand. It grows up to 10 metres high with a trunk up to 60 cm in diameter, it has smooth, whitish bark and brittle twigs. The dark-green "alternate" leaves are 5-15 cm long and 3-5 cm wide and their edges are finely serrated. MAPOU: Myrsine australis is a species of shrub endemic to New Zealand and found throughout the country and offshore islands. It has crinkly-edged leaves which make it easily mistaken for a pittosporum and reddish bark and stems. Growing to around six metres in height, it inhabits bush margins.

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Lyttelton Review

214 July 2018

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