Historic Bridle Path shelter restored

RESTORED: The shelter sits on the Bridle Path and gives views over Lyttelton Harbour and the Canterbury Plains.

A historic shelter honouring 19th century pioneering woman has been restored.

The shelter at the top of the Bridle Path was badly damaged in the February 2011 earthquake and has been restored over the last couple of months.

The hexagonal-shaped shelter was built using volcanic stone and is a well-known landmark on the Bridle Path – the route used by the first settlers to cross the Port Hills from Lyttelton to the fledgling settlement of Christchurch.

The shelter sits at the top of the summit, where the early settlers first viewed the Canterbury Plains and the site for Christchurch after their long sea journey. The shelter still offers views of the Lyttelton Harbour as well as the Canterbury Plains.

The shelter bears the inscription They Passed This Way and was built to commemorate the courage and hard work of the women who were among the early English settlers.

City council heritage programme manager Richie Moyle said it is good to be able to restore the shelter, which works as a resting spot for many making their way along the Bridle Path.

“We’re thrilled that we’ve been able to restore this historic landmark and that it can once again provide a resting point for those making the trip over the Bridle Path,’’ Mr Moyle said.

Mr Moyle said the restoriaton was important for the history of the area.

“It’s a wonderful spot to sit and imagine what it was like for the pioneers who arrived here and to reflect on how things have changed,” he said.

However there is still one item in the historic shelter awaiting restoration – a memorial plaque depicting the pioneer women and their children arriving in the district.

The bronze plaque carries the words: ‘On this spot the pioneer women of Canterbury and their children rested after their climb from the Port of Lyttelton and gazed with awe but courage upon the hills and plains of Canterbury where they were to make their home.’

“Sadly the decorative middle section of the plaque has been stolen, but we are having it re-cast and hope to have it back in place within a few months. It will be the final piece in the jigsaw,’’ Mr Moyle said.​