Harry Ell – a Cantab lad, visionary and lover of the Port Hills – had visions of walkers and travellers enjoying a network of scenic reserves along the Port Hills connected by a road with rest-houses along the way – right through to Akaroa. He planned just fewer than 20 rest-houses along what would start off as the Summit Road, these would be places where people could stop and rest. Of course, only four of these buildings came to fruition – The Sign of the Kiwi, The Sign of the Bellbird, The Sign of the Packhorse and the Sign of the Takahe.
In 1914 as the construction of the Summit Road crept along towards Akaroa, close to Kennedy’s Bush, it reached land that belonged to Sir Heaton Rhodes. The Otahuna Estate stretched up over the hills from Tai Tapu and permission to continue the road would have been approved.
Heaton not only approved but also donated this memorial to the project. Using a natural spring on his property, Heaton had this wall built around it so those on their travels could stop for a rest and have a drink. Believe it or not, many would choose to walk in those days over other expensive transport options.
Situated in a lovely spot – close to The Sign of the Bellbird – Rhodes Spring still remains, offering a place of rest and reflection even after 100 years!
For those wondering, the spring water was cold and delicious!
For a more in depth look at Sir Heaton Rhodes, please check out the following link: http://www.peelingbackhistory.co.nz/sir-robert-heaton-rhodes-1861-1956/
For a more in depth look at Harry Ell, please check out the following link: http://www.peelingbackhistory.co.nz/harry-ell-1862-1934/
*Image courtesy of Annette Bulovic*