Going Under Canvas at Sumner – 1890s

During the past year or two it has been customary for a number of parties of young men to go into camp at Sumner for the summer months, and to come up to Christchurch during business hours. Special facilities for this purpose having been offered by the Christchurch Tramway Company, the number of camps has…

The Mystery of the Severed Hand

“When the Clerk of the Court, in his quiet, matter-of-fact way, called Arthur Robert Howard, there was a hush of the murmured conversation among the crowd, and everyone looked towards the door by which prisoners enter the Court…” The Severed Hand or Severed Hand Mystery, Page 15-16, Published by Capper Press Eight miles from Christchurch…

The Old Sumner Road Cave Dweller

A Pitiable Case As a man was walking around Sumner road, in October 1901, a lady passed by and drew his attention to a small cave in the side of the hill where she said an old lady and her husband were living. He was rather taken back, even more so when he went inside…

Loners, Vagrants and Deserters – The Port Hills Cave Dwellers

Since early European settlement, the caves that honeycombed the Port Hills, from Sumner to Lyttelton, have been used by all manner of loners, vagrants and deserters as places of escape or retreat One Sunday in July 1863, a party of men employed in the tunnel, while on an excursion to Godley Head, discovered an old…

A Whale of a Time at Sumner

Whale at Sumner Provides Amusement for Trippers


“Considerable excitement was caused at Sumner at about 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon, when it was reported that something like a large upturned boat was seen about 3 or 4 miles out from the beach. To find out what it was, Acting-Pilot Joseph Hint’s got a crew together and went out in No. 2 Lifeboat…

Cafe Continental, Sumner’s Fabulous Edwardian Cafe 1906 – 1909

Sadly, Sumner’s sumptious famous Edwardian Cafe Continental only stood on the Esplanade opposite Cave Rock in Sumner for three years. Built in 1906, by Mr Martin Ridley of Christhchurch firm, Ridley and Sons, Tea Importers, this gracious seaside hotel and tearooms cost a colossal £10,000 to build – £8000 for construction and £2000 for the interiors…

The Edwardian Seaside of Sumner c. 1905

Sumner Beach was the last stop on the Sumner line. In this intriguing photograph, we can see the goings on of a typical summer’s weekend,  one hundred and six years ago.  Hundreds of city dwellers have taken the tram from Christchurch, more often than not, squeezed in like ‘sardines in a can’.  The anticipation to…

Day’s Hotel, Sumner c. 1888

On an empty beach near Sumner, a young boy and his Irish Spaniel stand at the shoreline as the photographer captures the moment. Further down the beach, beneath the original formation of Clifton Spur, stand two large rocks – one of which is Shag Rock. Nestled beneath Clifton Hill, is the two storey wooden accommodation…

Sumner Tram Excursion

On this summer’s day in 1906, the ten o’clock morning tram to Sumner is about to depart from outside the Royal Exchange in Cathedral Square. An excursion to Sumner was a popular outing for Christchurch residents looking for fresh air and seaside amusement. The locomotive’s four carriages are full and even the open top upper…