Historic Godley Head coastal defence battery

Please note: Godley Head buildings and structures were damaged by earthquakes in June 2011 and are currently closed pending repairs. Most walking tracks in this area are now open.

This headland is a breathtaking coastal location, only 30 minutes from Cathedral Square, Christchurch. Built in 1939, the fort is ranked in the top ten New Zealand coastal defence heritage sites.

Even before the fort was built, the look-out qualities of the headland were used to guide ships around the peninsula, with the help of the Godley Head light. The lighthouse, built in 1865, had to be moved during WWII to make way for the fort. Please note; public access is not available to the lighthouse in its current location.

In the threatening early years of World War II, Cantabrians were comforted that the long-range guns of the fort ensured their city was not defenceless against a surprise attack. In its heyday, the fort was staffed by over 400 men and women and was a self-contained community.

Godley Head coastal defence battery.
Godley Head coastal defence battery

It closed in 1963 and remaining today are three large gun emplacements, seven military buildings, and other features. A complete WW2 anti-aircraft gun on long-term loan from Ferrymead Trust has been returned to the site.

Ongoing restoration work is being undertaken on the many buildings and structures around the headland. Visitors can now explore one of the underground magazines, thanks to electric lighting installed. To view the other magazine, a torch is required.

Onsite interpretation panels have been placed all around the site, to explain the significance and historic stories. The Godley Head Heritage Trust is in the process of establishing a museum in the former regimental headquarters building and quartermaster's store.

 

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