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Cave Rock
Holiday Travel Guide

Discover the mysterious mythical back-story of this rugged volcanic rock that sits in the pretty seaside suburb of Sumner.

Head out onto Sumner beach for the best views of the jagged black outline and overhanging ledges of Cave Rock. Learn what the rock means to the native Maori people and clamber to the top for a superb view of Sumner Bay.

Sitting at the eastern end of the town beach, Cave Rock is a volcanic formation that appears to grow and sprawl out of the golden sand all around it. Known as “Tuawera” by the Maoris, the rock is believed to represent the carcass of a whale that washed up on the beach under the influence of dark magic. The Maori name figuratively means “cut down by fire” and it refers to the local people who died after eating the whale’s flesh.

Lie on the beach beside the imposing rock or bask in the shade that is created by outcrops and overhanging roofs that jut out from the main volcanic shape. Notice the lines and patterns that have been created by slow weathering by the elements and gaze at the rock from a distance to see if you can make out the shape of the poor washed up whale.

As the tide approaches climb the rugged surface to where a small lookout tower stands in the middle of the rock. Look out across Sumner Bay and northwest to the sprawling sandy expanse of Southshore just across the Heathcote Rivermouth. With the water gently lapping against the rock’s lower edges you can swim from the side or dip your feet in the cool, clear water.

After a day on the beach, make your way to the café on the esplanade directly behind the rock. Enjoy the local favorite, fish and chips, in front of the sparkling blue pacific.

Cave Rock is in Sumner, a 20-minute drive east of central Christchurch.

Top activities in Cave Rock

650 Cheap Hotels Near Cave Rock

Cave Rock Guest House
Cave Rock Guest House
3 out of 5
16 Esplanade, Sumner, Christchurch
Free cancellation
The price is NZ$120 per night from 28 Feb. to 1 Mar.

Offering direct access to the beach, this Christchurch guesthouse is within 6 mi (10 km) of Ferrymead Heritage Park, Lyttelton Harbour and Christchurch Gondola. ...

4.8/5Exceptional! (45 reviews)

"Great place to stay, ideal location for us. Very friendly owners"…"

Reviewed on 1 Feb. 2021

Cave Rock Guest House
Sumner Bay Motel & Apartments
Sumner Bay Motel & Apartments
3.5 out of 5
26 Marriner Street, Sumner, Christchurch
The price is NZ$160 per night from 2 Mar. to 3 Mar.

Situated near the beach, this aparthotel is 0.3 mi (0.5 km) from Sumner Beach.

4.7/5Exceptional! (114 reviews)

"Great spot in the middle of Sumner. Cool beach colour scheme."…"

Reviewed on 24 Nov. 2020

Sumner Bay Motel & Apartments
Beach Front Apartment with  pool
Beach Front Apartment with pool
Christchurch, Canterbury
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Situated in Christchurch, this apartment building is within 1 mi (2 km) of Cave Rock and Sumner Beach. Shag Rock and Avon Heathcote Estuary are also within 15 ...

Beach Front Apartment with pool
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Top Cave Rock Flight & Hotel Packages

Cathedral Junction Apartment
Airport Gateway Motor Lodge
298 Westside Motor Lodge
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Top Cave Rock Hotel & Accommodation Deals

Cave Rock Guest House
Cave Rock Guest House
3 out of 5
16 Esplanade, Sumner, Christchurch
The price is NZ$120 per night from 28 Feb. to 1 Mar.
Cave Rock Guest House
Sumner Bay Motel & Apartments
Sumner Bay Motel & Apartments
3.5 out of 5
26 Marriner Street, Sumner, Christchurch
The price is NZ$160 per night from 2 Mar. to 3 Mar.
Sumner Bay Motel & Apartments
Beach Front Apartment with  pool
Beach Front Apartment with pool
Christchurch, Canterbury
Beach Front Apartment with pool
Sumner Re Treat
Sumner Re Treat
4 out of 5
1 Wakefield Avenue, Sumner, Christchurch
The price is NZ$140 per night from 2 Mar. to 3 Mar.
Sumner Re Treat
Le Petit Hotel
Le Petit Hotel
3 out of 5
16 Marriner St Sumner, Christchurch
Le Petit Hotel
Panorama - Christchurch Holiday Homes
Panorama - Christchurch Holiday Homes
3.5 out of 5
10 Panorama Road, Christchurch
Panorama - Christchurch Holiday Homes
Cliffside Abode with Stunning Ocean Views
Cliffside Abode with Stunning Ocean Views
5 Kinsey Terrace, Christchurch, Canterbury
Cliffside Abode with Stunning Ocean Views
Stunning House in Sumner
Stunning House in Sumner
10B Panorama Rd, Christchurch, Canterbury
Stunning House in Sumner
Sumner Sanctuary by the Sea - there is a house build behind you at this time
Sumner Sanctuary by the Sea - there is a house build behind you at this time
4 Head Street, Christchurch, Canterbury
Sumner Sanctuary by the Sea - there is a house build behind you at this time
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.