Godley Head Track with kids: The Best Coastline Walk in Christchurch

Godley Head Track

 

Wow! If you are wanting a great introductory half day hike for the kids in Christchurch, then this is a great one!  For adults, it would be around 3 hours return, but with three kids, it definitely took the recommended 1 hour, 45 minutes each way, plus stops.

When you google the Godley Heads Track, you will see there is a carpark up at the heads.  You can do the walk from there, but we love to park at Taylors Mistake beach as it means its all downhill on the way back.  It also puts the interesting historical landmarks at the halfway mark, which is when the kids start to need entertaining.

 

Highlights of the Godley Head Walk, Taylors Mistake

  • Amazing coastal views

The coastal views are incredible.  You will see from our photos that we were there on a cloudy day and it was still beautiful.  The boys loved watching the surfers from up above.  To think this place is just 30 minutes from Christchurch City, yet is both serene and wild.  I really felt it was a breath of fresh air out here.

  • Animal Viewing

Animal spotting is always a highlight and this Godley Heads Walk provided many opportunities. We saw all types of birds, some sheep and friends have even seen penguins and dolphins out at sea, so keep your eyes peeled.

  • Old war buildings and gun emplacements

Dotted around the end of the peninsula are a number of old relics from World War II.  The boys just loved climbing inside and exploring and it really broke up the walk from just.. well.. walking. We also found an old hut that was originally destined from Antarctica and some old observation buildings.  Around the south side of the peninsula, all the buildings have information boards to learn about what happened here long ago.  There is even the Godley Head Lighthouse, however it teters on the edge of the cliff so you can’t visit it.

Ashley and Nathan from Backyard Travel Family hike along the coastline path on the Godley Head Track Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand
View over Taylors Mistake Beach from Godley Head Track, Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand. Photo by Backyard Travel Family
Kipton from Backyard Travel Family scales the hill overlooking Taylors Mistake, from the Godley Heads Track, Christchurch, NZ
A longer hike for little ones

We were searching for a walk to push the endurance of our 5 year old and see if he was up for a longer walk.  This was perfect. The track was dirt and gravel and not too narrow, which was important since it is a coastal track high up on the cliff.  In general, it was pretty flat (mild inclines/declines) on the way out to the end of peninsula and a steep short climb up to the top (perhaps 10 minutes of climbing)

You could go around the peninsula in a loop track or return back the way you came.  We opted to go around the loop and heading down the shared use track at Breezes Col, which was perhaps a little faster on the way down.  Mostly downhill and a little steep and slippery on the dry gravel but nothing more than a hand held was required.

Can the kids really walk this long?

I was really impressed at the way our 5 year old kept going along this track.  With all the stops, we were away for 4 hours. While there were times where he just wanted to know “how much further” and told us his legs were a little tired, all in all he coped just fine.

Our three year old walked the first 40 minutes, then we popped him into a backpack and then he did lots of “walking, then backpack” etc.  The walk itself isn’t particularly difficult, just long for little legs.

Kipton from Backyard Travel Family soaks up the views on the Godley Head Walk, Christchurch, New Zealand
Start of the Godley Heads Track, Great family walk with kids, Christchurch, New Zealand
Nathan from Backyard Travel Family runs down the stairs on the Godley Heads Track, Canterbury, New Zealand
Graffiti Art inside the old WWII buildings on the Godley Head Track, Family Walk, Christchurch, New Zealand
A shorter version of this hike

If you want to these beautiful views, you could easily just walk for half an hour on this track, and return.  You would get a great sense of the coastline without being out for too long.

If you really want to see the old WWII relics, then you could also drive to the Godley Head carpark on the Summit Road. There is parking up here and also the Godley Head campsite. From there you could walk around the head in perhaps 45 minutes, depending on the pace of little feet.

Other activities in this area
Jennifer

Jennifer

Founder of Backyard Travel Family

Jen is a super organiser when it comes to travel. Having travelled extensively in Europe and Africa, has lived in London and the USA and holidayed in many parts of Asia, she is not a newbie to the travel space

Jen has three young children, 5 and under and travels around New Zealand with them.

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what you need to know

Travel

- 25-30 minutes from Christchurch CBD to Taylors Mistake Beach Carpark.
- You can also park at Godley Head Park on Summit Road (35 minutes from Christchurch CBD)

The trail

- Mostly compacted dirt with a bit of gravel.
- 3.5-4 hours return from Taylors Mistake Carpark. Adults without kids could do this in about 3 hours.
- Relatively flat along the coastline, with a short incline up from Taylors Mistake Beach, and at the end of the Peninsula. In general an easy walk.

Suitable for kids?

- Babies/Toddlers: Need to be carried
- Preschoolers: I wouldn't attempt this without a carrier for preschoolers as it is quite long. Its not technically difficult and they could manage large parts of it, but I would say most young ones would get quite tired.
- 5 year olds + can walk it on their own with younger ones needing a few good breaks. It is a 3-4 hour walk after all.

Facilities

- Toilets at Taylors Mistake Carpark and Godley Heads Carpark
- Playground and picnic areas at Taylors Mistake Carpark
- Very exposed and no shade along this track. On a windy cold day, this walk wouldn't be pleasant.

What to bring

- A jacket or sweatshirt in the summer, especially if its windy as its so exposed! Very warm clothing in winter
- Water and food as its a 3-4 hour walk
- Camera for the excellent views of Christchurch
- Money for the ice cream truck that is often at Taylors Mistake on a warm day.

Food options

- Often a food/ice cream truck at Taylors Mistake but no other options right in this area
- Over the hill in Sumner has excellent cafes and restaurants
- Closest supermarkets are a small Supervalue in Sumner or New World in Redcliffs

Further information

Click the ? for the DOC guide for this walk

What the critics thought

I walked for a long way today. And we saw 4 ships in the water. I got a bit tired, but Daddy carried me. We saw lots of old buildings, but the war was a long time ago. They aren't going to be shooting anything anymore.
Backyard Travel Family / Your go to for practical advice for active families travelling around New Zealand
Kipton
3 year old firecracker
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