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The Guv'nor & His Birds, Canterbury

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The Guv'nor & His BirdsIntermediate - Experienced

Submitted by Tony Sharpe

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Trail Information







Urban fringe

Point to Point (one way)

Very hilly

Native bush
Open tussock/grasslands
Open ridges/tops

Intermediate - Experienced

3:30 (Slow)
2:45 (Moderate)
2:00 (Fast)



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This one is for those like their runs a bit less travelled and a bit more technical. Note the vertical - most of the 1000m plus is in the first 8 km or so, you have been warned!

Starting at the Governors Bay wharf make your way up Jetty Road. Ignore the pull of the pub and She Chocolate and head left to pick up the signposted Faulkners Track up to Lighthouse Lane, and then head on uphill alongside houses. Soon you will have gained over 200m of vert and be above the township and on to the trails proper. After a while pick up the South Boundary track as it begins climbing and sidling the hill flanks. Impressive views as you nip in and out of bush and start to get the essence of the trails, which can become very muddy and slippery when wet.

Keep going along the South Boundary Track until you eventually reach the Bush Road Track - follow these nice technical trails along down to pick up the junction with O'Farrell's Track. O'Farrell's is a nice broad level sort of affair for a couple of km's as you emerge into areas devastated by the 2017 Port Hills Fire.

Next you are looking for the Cass Ridge Track, which is your self propelled 'escalator' up to the Summit Road - and it doesn't muck around in elevating you rapidly to the Sign of the Bellbird. Have a breather and loo stop if needed at the Sign of the Bellbird before heading down into the bush and around the wonderful circuit that is the Orongomai Trail. This is a 3km circuit through possibly the best kept secret in the whole Christchurch area - and miraculously it survived the 2017 fires. There are quite a few junctions through here, just keep following the Orongomai Track all the way down and then back up the other side of its pleasant minor waterways. Prolific birdlife here and a real taste of what used to be - and another 250m of down and then back up vert for your tally.

Once back up to the Summit Road then hop across to the Crater Rim and enjoy the tremendous ridgeline views for 3-4km along to the Sign of the Kiwi - water and loo available here, and a store for other refreshments if needed. The last stretch is a cruisy glide down the Harry Ell track to the Sign of the Takahe, so named after the vision and dreams of the network of buildings and tracks you have just explored for 16kms.

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Features of interest

Traverse the Port Hills and enjoy probably the most single trail in native bush that can be found in the Christchurch area. More than you would expect, and despite the 2017 fires which thankfully spared some (but not all) of the native Port hills gems. Along the way you'll link a network of trails with the visionary work of Harry Ell and his various Signs Of buildings- the Bellbird, Kiwi and Takahe, each reminders of a visionary man's work in establishing and preserving the Port Hills as a recreational centrepoint for Christchurch.

Make Up of Run

Technical Single Track: 50%

Moderate Single Track: 38%

Easy Single Track: 10%

Sealed Road: 2%

Route Data


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Overlapping Runs

The following trails overlap with this run to some degree. You may wish to combine them but please note that to qualify for FKTs on these runs you should record a separate Strava activity for each

The Crater Rim

The Crater Rim

Length: 27.90km

Takahe Half

Takahe Half

Length: 21.10km

Bird to Bird

Bird to Bird

Length: 9.80km

O'Farrells For Shore

O'Farrells For Shore

Length: 11.50km

The Governator

The Governator

Length: 9.85km


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I did it!
  • Access

    Start at sea level beside the Governor's Bay Wharf, at the end of Jetty Rd

    Unless you are planning to run back over you probably want to get dropped off or have a car shuffle. Buses to travel to Governor's Bay but not so frequently.

    14 km

    27 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    Due to the number of track junctions taking a map and the guide will be really useful. Theres a number of great maps on the Christchurch City Council website too

    Generally good.

    Lightweight fleece top, Short-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Windproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map.

    Bring you own- you can fill up 10km in at the Sign of the Kiwi

    Can get cold and windy at any time of year, very occasionally snow in winter. Muddy after rain. take the right soles with you!

  • Post run indulgence

    She Cafe or Governors Bay Hotel
    Governors Bay
    Food, beer and chocolate indulgence. MMMM. AFTER your run though!

    Cup cafe and Emporers New Clothes Cafe
    Dyers Pass Road a block down from the Takahe
    Coffee, nibbles and ales

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    If you are interested in learning about sponsorship opportunities, please get in touch below:


See other runs nearby:

Godley Head loop
Lyttelton to Diamond Harbour
Halswell and Kennedys
Summit Walkway
The Bowenvale Elevator
The Gorsetrack Strikes Back
Rapaki Sugarloaf Return
Sign Of The Takahe - Rapaki
Port Hills Nearly Half Marathon
Horse Longitudes
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Okuti to Hilltop Amble
Gondola Gallop
Orton Bradley Loop
The ATH (Around The Harbour)
Lava - H.ELL Loop
Travis Wetland Loop
Punk Rock Assault On Windsor Castle
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Lava Lite
Takahe Half
North New Brighton Spit
Mt Pleasant Trig
God's Con - Rehab Road
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Trinity - Harbour Bruisin'
Gates Of The East
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