2 Nov 2018

Timeball returns to operations in Lyttelton

7:04 pm on 2 November 2018

A historic timeball is back in operation today in Lyttelton, after it suffered serious damage in the Christchurch earthquakes.

The timeball dropped at exactly 1pm to mark the time it used to welcome ships into the town.

The structure was originally built to assist seafarers in navigation and timekeeping, and dropped daily for 135 years before it was put out of action by the September 2010 earthquake.

Heritage New Zealand spokesperson Sheila Watson said the restoration project began in July last year and cost $3 million to complete.

"To formally open the site with support from local and national dignitaries and key supporters is very special. It shows how important the return of such a familiar feature overlooking this port town is."

She said the site with its tower, timeball, flagpole and landscaped grounds opened this morning to the public, with the timeball dropping in the afternoon.

"The site is a nod to its very important past but also a newly plotted pathway to the future. It incorporates original heritage elements with new, such as the automated timeball mechanism replacing the original component due to the extent of earthquake damage it received."

Labour's Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson said a lot of the stonework from the original timeball was used when contractors pieced it back together.

She said it was highly unusual for a town to have a working timeball as there weren't many left.