Originally called the Mt Cavendish Gondola, the Christchurch Gondola is situated on the Port hills crater rim. It overlooks Lyttelton Harbour on one side, and Heathcote Valley, Christchurch City and the Canterbury Plains on the other, offering 360o views of the harbour, coastline, plains, and the Southern Alps.
This popular attraction is a twenty minute drive from the centre of the city. Access to the top station is by a 945m gondola ride from the base at Heathcote Valley. Visitors may enjoy function facilities, a viewing platform, retail outlet, cafe, restaurant and ‘Time Tunnel’ display. Exterior experiences involve informed nature walks and mountain bike tracks.
Engineering solutions were required that had to account for a steep gradient, lack of water, harsh sunlight, high winds and snow. Innovative conservation measures were employed, such as the uprooting and transportation of specimens of sensitive flora to a nearby nursery until they could be returned, unharmed, to their native habitat on project completion. The project took 7 years to complete, requiring vision and perseverance, and was supported by the residents of Heathcote and Lyttleton. The overall cost was approximately $11 million.
DO had experience in ski area engineering, development and management. DO provided surveying, structural and civil engineering, planning, land negotiation and project management expertise, as well as tourism venture advice. As a result, Christchurch has a unique, successful visitor destination.