Port Levy is a sheltered north-facing bay, surrounded by tussock and bush covered hills. It is a popular sailing area, with sandy and stony beaches, suitable for swimming and fishing.
The current population is under 100, but in the mid 1800s it was the largest Māori settlement in Canterbury with a population of about 400 people. It is named after Solomon Levey [sic], a Sydney merchant and ship owner who sent a number of trading vessels to the Banks Peninsula area during the 1820s.
The bay was settled by the Ngai Tūāhuriri sub-tribe of Ngāi Tahu. The chief Moki named the bay "Koukourarata" after a stream in Wellington that recalls the birth of his father, Tu Ahuriri.
It was also the home of Tautahi, the chief after whom the swampland area Ōtautahi was named - now the site of the city of Christchurch.
The first Māori Anglican church was built here - a stone memorial marks the site.
Portions of the Peter Jackson film "Heavenly Creatures” were shot in Port Levy. At this place, Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme, two 16 year old girls from Christchurch, saw their imaginary Fourth World on 3 April, 1953, the so-called Port Levy Revelation. It was never explained what actually happened but they called it a gateway through the clouds.