Sumner to Taylors Mistake
The walk from Sumner to Taylors Mistake goes across Scarborough Head and provides some excellent vantage points for viewing Canterbury's stunning coastal scenery. Sumner beach is a popular and easy to reach destination from Christchurc. There are a number of interesting walking tracks in the area, including the walk across the headland to Taylors Mistake, which is the next swimming beach.
If you take the number 3 bus from the Square, get off by the Sumner surf club at Cave Rock. Then walk along the Sumner Esplanade, all the way along and on past the children's paddling pool, until you get to Taylors Mistake Road. Turn left and walk up the hill to the first switchback. There is stone house on the corner. Continue walking up the road behind the stone house, which is Whitewash Head Road. Stop to admire the view at least 2-3 times - on a clear day you can see all the way out to the Kaikouras. Whitewash Head Road takes you up past some beautiful houses and gardens, and in summer the cliff faces are covered with succulents, daisies, and geraniums. When you get to the sign for the turn off to Nicholson Park you have a choice to make. You can either continue up the very steep slope to the top of the head or you can turn right along the Sumner Walkway and walk up to the top via the less steep path through Nicholson Park. The Nicholson Park option also affords some wonderful views of Christchurch from a convenient bench situated near the top. There are also the swings and the big rocking horsey for the young at heart.
Once you get through Nicholson Park you cross the Taylors Mistake road at the summit and cross to the back of the headland. You come out right by the edge of the cliff. To the left is the way back down to Sumner - down the path you would have come up if you hadn't gone through Nicholson Park. To the right is the track to Taylors Mistake, and a magnificent view of Godley Head. From this point it is not very far to Taylors Mistake, but the track is quite steep in places and very windy. On the way you can see gulls nesting in the cliffs, skinks (lizards) scuttling about on the track, and if you're lucky, you'll see ships anchored off shore before they go round to the Port of Lyttelton. Taylors Mistake is instantly recognisable with its row of rickety baches and dark sandy beach.
You can return to Sumner by retracing the way you came, or by following the Heritage Trail, which commemorates the Maori route that used to go over the headland. You can reach the trail by following the main track from the Taylors Mistake surf club past the baches to a steep flight of steps that leads to the road. The Trail crosses the road and follows a well posted route over farmland. If you go back by the way you came, you can continue past the turn off to Nicholson park and descend down the steep steps that take you back to Whitewash Head Road. There are some spectacular views from this part of the walk.
The return circuit takes about 2-3 hours, depending on how long you linger on the beach at Taylors Mistake. You can get to Sumner by taking the number 3 bus from Cathedral Square. The stop is just outside Warners Hotel. Buses run pretty regularly on Saturdays (less so on Sundays), but they can be notoriously unreliable.