When Superintendent William Sefton Moorhouse approached Julius von Haast in 1860, he was hoping for a miracle. Just a newcomer to Canterbury, German born Julius was finding that life was taking him on a completely different road than he mapped out for himself before his arrival. There were no complaints from Julius though as he was soon doing a job that was his grand passion – surveying and engineering and now the Canterbury Provincial Council was asking him for help. He was living the dream – just 10 years later he would open the Canterbury Museum!
The Lyttelton Railway Tunnel or The Moorhouse Railway Tunnel was causing William Sefton Moorhouse quite a headache. Since the Provincial Council formed in 1853, an easier route from Lyttelton to Christchurch had been a hot topic. Only two ways seemed possible – a railway line following the harbour line around to Sumner OR a tunnel going through the hills. It wasn’t until 1858 that William Sefton Moorhouse – now in power – picked up the ball and began to run with it. £4000 was put aside for the hiring of an engineer to take a look and give the council his thoughts.
Edward Dobson – Arthur Dobson’s father (famous for Arthur’s Pass) – and Julius’ future father-in-law worked alongside each other and gave a promising report in spite of others saying it couldn’t be done. Engineers Holmes and Richardson from Australia took over in 1861 for the fee of £188,727.
It took until May 1867 for the two ends to finally break through. Tracks were laid down by November and the first train traveling through on the 18th November 1867. It was not officially opened until June 1874. These men broke a record as the Lyttelton Railway Tunnel was the first tunnel in the world to be taken through volcanic rock.
Through this adventure, Julius not only met the future Mrs. Haast but it lead to a further survey of the Port Hills. Lyttelton Harbour etc is believed to be over 12 million years old and is an extinct volcanic crater. It was Julius who named the seven prominent peaks in a caldera wall that start from the north side of Gebbies Pass and goes right through to Dyers Pass.
Haast named them the Seven Brothers.
Another name that was used for them was the Seven Sleepers.
Once you travel beyond Teddington, heading Charteris Bay way, the Port Hills end and you are entering what is regarded as Banks Peninsula.
The individual names of the Seven Brothers are: Cooper’s Knob, Cass Peak, Mt Vernon, Mt Herbert, Sugarloaf, Castle Rock and Mt Pleasant. Cooper’s Knob is not only the tallest of the seven but of the whole Port Hills, measuring in at 573 metres above sea level.