Little River Rail Trail

Rod Donald Trust was approached by the Little River Rail Trail Trust with a proposal for us to take over the responsibilities of the Little River Rail Trail. When agreement was reached at the end of 2023 the original Rail Trail Trust was then wound up and we are delighted to now take over guardianship of this amazing Banks Peninsula icon.

About the Trail:

This scenic trail is suitable for all ages and abilities and is both a cycleway and walkway. With a variety of options or the choice to ride the entire trail you can begin in the centre of the city and go on to reach Little River via Prebbleton, Lincoln, Motukarara and Birdlings Flat following the route of an old 19th century railway line between Hornby and Little River.

Highlights along the way include the history of this nineteenth century railway route, beautiful birdlife and a varying landscape as the trail travels through farmland, wetlands and loops around the stunning volcanic remnants of the Peninsulas landform. The trail borders Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere, and then Te Roto o Wairewa/Lake Forsyth as you get closer to the Little River township.

Riding the Trail – what you need to know:

The Little River Rail Trail provides a variety of short term trips with easy access points or the opportunity for a full day’s ride, all on easy riding flat terrain.

The various sections of the Trail pass through streets, paths, parks, reserves, country roads and wetland areas including Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere).

The full trail is 55km one-way from the central city, but is split into eight sections:

SECTION 1: Christchurch Cathedral Square to Marshs Road 5.4km

SECTION 2: Shands Road (Hornby) to Prebbleton 20 minutes, 4km

SECTION 3: Prebbleton–Lincoln 35 minutes, 7.7km

SECTION 4: Lincoln–Neills Road 50 minutes, 9.3km

SECTION 5: Neills Road–Motukārara 25 minutes, 6km

SECTION 6: Motukārara–Kaituna Quarry 7.9 km

SECTION 7: Kaituna Quarry to Birdlings Flat 5.4km

SECTION 8: Birdlings Flat–Little River 40 minutes, 9.7km

Download the full brochure HERE.

If completing the entire Trail you can either opt to spend a night in the Little River township or take the shuttle bus back to Christchurch.

Note that dogs are not permitted on the Motukarara–Birdlings Flat and Birdlings Flat–Little River sections. Elsewhere dogs are permitted but must be on leash.

For full information and mapping visit

Partnership: There are four agencies that own and oversee the maintenance of various section of the trail and we are grateful for the role they play in ensuring this great Banks Peninsula asset continues to be available for all to enjoy. Many thanks to the Christchurch City Council, Selwyn District Council, Department of Conservation and Environment Canterbury for all of your great mahi.