Godley Head Bunker
Image: Joan McCallum | DOC


Built in 1939, the Godley Head coastal defence battery is ranked as one of the top ten New Zealand coastal defence heritage sites.

Alert 9 April 2021: The Gun Emplacements are closed. Check closure information on the Godley Head alert page

This headland is a breathtaking coastal location, only 50 minutes drive 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 visual range of the headland was 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. During the Christchurch earthquakes of 2011 parts of the cliff became unstable, and the cupola and glassed in lantern room of the lighthouse was removed to preserve it. Public access is not available to the remains of the lighthouse.

In the threatening early years of World War II, Cantabrians were comforted that the two 6 inch 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 featuring three gun emplacements, two searchlights, a plotting room and two radars.

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 explore one of the underground magazines, thanks to electric lighting installed.

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.

The Tunnel Track is closed due to damage from the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011.

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