Welcome To Little River

Little River, approximately 50 minutes drive from Christchurch on Banks Peninsula, is on State Highway 75 to Akaroa, a major South Island tourist destination. Little River is a great place to visit for walks and mountain biking and is a busy stop over with its Cafe, Store, Restaurant/Bar, Little River Inn, Art Gallery, Craft Station and Museum.

The Christchurch-Little River Rail Trail, a very popular cycling and walking track that opened in 2006, largely follows the course of the old Little River Branch Railway.

At Manaia Native Habitat in Okuti Valley you can experience walks through native bush and birds and the beach at Birdlings Flat with its Gemstone and Fossil Museum is a worthwhile stop for fishing and fossicking.


The population early last century numbered in the thousands, with people mainly employed in timber milling and farming. A major local industry was the harvesting and threshing of cocksfoot. Today the population of the area is approximately 1,700 people, with many people moving into the area for the rural country lifestyle.


The branch line to Little River was built to transport logs from one of the major stands of timber in the Canterbury region. The first 27km to Birdling's Flat opened on 16 May 1882 and  four years later on 11 March 1886, the next 9km opened to Little River. There were proposals to extend the line as far as Akaroa, but these did not eventuate and Little River remained the terminus.

Between 1927 and 1934 passengers were served by the experimental and popular Edison battery-electric railcar, the only one of its type to be built. The line closed to passengers on 14 April 1951, and closed to all traffic on 30 June 1962.