Sign of the Takahe


This is an historic Christchurch building called the ‘Sign of the Takahe”. It’s located on the Cashmere Hills with stunning views of Christchurch and the Canterbury Plains. It’s a restaurant and bar, as well as a venue for weddings.

“The first stone was laid in 1908 but, following an extraordinary string of events, the building didn’t open until 1949 two years after the Christchurch City Council took control. It has a totally unique two story asymmetrical plan encompassing entirely different architectural styles. The northwest façade, which overlooks the Canterbury Plains, is reminiscent of a gothic style English Manor House of the 14th century while the southwest corner features a 17th century style baroque three story crenellated tower. The eastern aspect is in the style of a Dickensian Inn from the late 18th century England.  Source: Sign of the Takahe Website


  • 9 years ago

    And what is it? I mean does it belong to some group that use it as a museum or is it just a building that had a historical past of some kind? I see lawn chairs in front and people sitting there. It is a nice building to be sure and you’ve managed to get a nice photo of it.

    Abraham Lincoln in Brookville, Ohio

  • 9 years ago

    I’m wondering who built in in the first place.

  • robin finch
    9 years ago

    Sign Of The Takahe

    The Sign of the Takahe is one of the roadhouses planned by Henry George (Harry) Ell as part of his scheme to preserve the natural state of the Port Hills which overlook Christchurch and Lyttelton harbour.

    Ell inspired construction of the Summit Road which winds 30 km along the summit of the Port Hills, together with all the reserves, walking tracks and roadhouses around the hills. Of the four roadhouses built, three were completed before Ells death in 1934. These were Sign of the Kiwi, Sign of the Bellbird and Sign of the Packhorse.

    In 1918, with little financial backing or local support, Ell and his dedicated team of skilled workers started construction. Ell spent years studying design of English Manors, castles and inns, the best of which he incorporated into the structure of the Takahe. This building was the most remarkable and cherished of all his projects and it was here, in the dining room, that he placed an exact replica of a fireplace in the historic Haddon Hall in Derbyshire.

    A great deal of improvisation was required to minimize cost. For example the stone was quarried locally from the Port hills and hand chiseled into blocks using primitive tools, the heavy Kauri beams in the entrance hall were salvaged from a former bridge over the Hurunui River and the ceilings in the inner most dining room were painted on timber cut from packing cases.

    For some years Ell operated the partially completed building as a tearoom hoping any profits would help finance his work but this was not successful. The building also functioned as a Tram Terminus for a short time.

    After Ells death in 1934, the sign of the Takahe lay abandoned until 1942 when Christchurch City Council purchased the building to save it from further deterioration. With assistance from former colleagues of Ells (notably an Architect – Mr. J.G. Collins) the building was completed some seven years later in 1949.

  • robin finch
    9 years ago

    The building is now used as a restaurant and also as a venue for formal weddings.

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