Feb 27, 2009

Christchurch Lyttelton Road Tunnel opened 27 February 1964


With the removal of the Heathcote end of the historic Bridle Path, and the demolition of houses in the vicinity, construction began on New Zealand's longest road tunnel in 1962.


Built at a cost of £3 million by a joint venture consortium of NZ's Fletcher Construction Ltd, and the American Henry J. Kaiser Co., Inc., the 1.9 km tunnel involved the use of 250 kg of explosives to remove 150,000 cubic metres of rock. It was then lined with 1.5 million glazed white tiles.


Opened on the 27th of February 1964 by Brigadier Sir Bernard Fergusson, last British Governor General of New Zealand, the tunnel replaced a tortuous route over Evans Pass on the Port Hills.

Note: the artist's rendition in the 1962 promotional illustration at the top bears little resemblance to what eventuated.




Special thanks to Anthony of the Early Canterbury Photographers web site for the following items of tunnel ephemera from 1964.




An elevated southerly view of the Heathcote entrance to the tunnel, showing the toll gates and administration building.

7 comments:

Jayne said...

Ohhh, love the promo poster, even if it was artistic license lol.

Canterbury Heritage said...

Would have been a bit risky riding a bike through the tunnel as depicted. However, the Christchurch-Lyttelton buses have bike racks, which is really something by international standards.

Canterbury Heritage said...

Three items of tunnel ephemera from 1964 added to the article (thanks to Anthony of the Early Canterbury Photographers web site).

Anonymous said...

The Lyttleton Tunnel has to be the most well built New Zealaland construction ever built .
Spanning a history of almost 50 years , the Lyttleton tunnel has benifited many over the years.
Had it never been built , all transport would still travelling over the Evans Pass on Port Hills .
It was good they abolished admition fees, as they would have been more than 20 cents now , most likely about 5 dollars or so .

Stan Vause, Snells Beach said...

Talking of riding bicycles through the tunnel ... in 1963 during the final stages of construction, there was an old bicycle inside the air supply and exhaust chambers in the roof of the tunnel. I used to ride that bike from the Heathcote end to the middle of the tunnel, in complete darkness, to where the radio-telephone base station was installed. The raised slots every few meters where fresh air passes down into the tunnel and stale air is drawn up from the tunnel proper, made for a jolly bumpy ride.

Mary said...

One of my earliest memories is walking through the road tunnel with my parents and our cousins. I would only have been 3 but I still can remember the inside of the tunnel quite clearly.

Simonius said...

The promo picture is from the cover of the booklet proposing the project. Inside it is dated 1956, not 1962 as suggested on this page. 1962 is just two years before the opening, the design would have been finalised by then.