Fort Jervois is closed to the public following damage sustained in the 2010/11 earthquakes.
Fort Jervois was built on Ripapa as one of the four defences set up in World War I to protect Lyttelton Harbour, and as part of the nationwide coastal defences.
The walled fort, built in 1886, had been re-militarised as a result of a perceived 'Russian scare' and is the most complete Russian scare fort left in New Zealand. The fort was occupied by the New Zealand army from the Russian scare till the end of World War I and was again garrisoned during World War II.
The fort is currently the home of two extremely rare guns. One an 8 inch calibre cannon, of which there are only 12 left in the world which remains to be in working order though there are of course no shells left for such a weapon. It also holds a smaller 6 inch calibre cannon that had been commissioned to be in active service but as the first test shot was fired the recoil system failed and has cracked the barrel and most of the rest of the gun. The 6 inch calibre gun can not be fired again.
The island has been under the control of the Department of Conservation since 1990. Ripapa Island is classed in category one by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. The island has been considered 'actively managed' by Canterbury conservancy. Future plans have been made to return the island to how it was during the Second World War.
Fort Jervois, Ripapa Island. Photo: RNZAF Official, via Air Force Museum, Chirstchurch.