The Port Hills are a 12 million-year-old remnant of the Lyttelton volcano crater. Wind, rain, sun, ice and snow have eroded the crater over the last 8 million years, to what can be seen today. For visitors and residents alike, the rugged outcrops of the Port Hills against the skyline, in contrast to the flatness of the Canterbury Plains, are a memorable sight.
Visible from well beyond Christchurch, the Port Hills [PDF, 668 KB] [PDF 670KB] are an obvious feature forming a backdrop to the city. The majority of the Port Hills consists of a rocky open tussock landscape which has a high proportion of indigenous plant species and which provides an almost 'wilderness experience' in close proximity to the major urban area.