Banks Peninsula
Image: Suky Thompson ©

Introduction

Tramping tracks around Banks Peninsula provide a moderate day or multi-day tramp. They are suitable for people with moderate backcountry skills and experience as some tracks may be rough and steep.

Track overview

Seasonal restrictions

Mt Herbert/Te Ahu Pātiki tracks tracks are closed from 15 August - 15 October for the lambing season.

Dog access

No dogs

About this track

Description

Kaituna Valley Packhorse Hut Track

Time: 3 - 4 hr return
Category: Walking track

The track is suitable for small children and family groups, despite one short steep section - it's short, and has a variety of vegetation and great views.

Start from Parkinsons Road, off the Kaituna Valley Road, where there is a small car park. The track is well sign-posted and passes the farm, following vehicle tracks up a bush-filled valley. Be prepared for wet feet as several small streams are crossed. Eventually the track climbs steeply onto a big spur. It then follows the spur for some distance before passing through Parkinsons Bush Reserve. The track leads to the saddle and historic stone Packhorse Hut, well situated for the views, and also links with the longer Te Ara Pātaka track.

The hut can also be accessed by tracks from Gebbies Pass, Orton Bradley Park and Mt Herbert (closed for the lambing season 8 August to 15 September inclusive).

The hut was one of a series of rest houses along the proposed Summit Road, along with the Sign of the Takahē, Kiwi and Bellbird. Built in 1917 of local stone, it sits on a saddle between the sea and the summit of Mt Bradley (855 m).

Mt Herbert/Te Ahu Pātiki tracks

Time: 5 - 6 hr return from Diamond Harbour
Category: Tramping track 

Seasonal restrictions: Mt Herbert tracks are closed from 15 August - 15 October for the lambing season.

Mt Herbert/Te Ahu Pātiki can be accessed from the wharf or Whero Ave, Diamond Harbour or Orton Bradley Park (3 hr). It can also be accessed from the Packhorse Hut (2hr 15min) or Port Levy Saddle (2hr) via the Te Ara Pātaka track (formerly the Port Levy to Hilltop Summit Walkway).

From Diamond Harbour, this is a strenuous walk from the sea to the summit of Mt Herbert/Te Ahu Pātiki, the high point of Banks Peninsula (919 m). The walkway mostly follows a farm vehicle track up an exposed volcanic spur.

There is a shelter and toilet on the saddle between Mt Herbert and Mt Bradley.

Most of the track is in open country and is very exposed so be prepared for all weather conditions. There is little water along the way so take plenty with you.

Port Levy to Montgomery Park Scenic Reserve track - part of Te Ara Pātaka

Time: 5 hr - 5hr 30min one way
Category: Tramping track 

This track links Montgomery Park Scenic Reserve to the Port Levy Saddle. 

Drive to Hilltop on the Akaroa Highway then turn onto the Summit Road for 2 km to a small parking area at Montgomery Park Scenic Reserve.

Alternatively, drive to Little River, turn north-east onto Western Valley Road towards Port Levy until you reach the Port Levy carpark. This road is rough and 4WD when it rains.

As the track-ends are some distance apart, the easiest way to do this walk is to split into two groups walking in opposite directions, swapping car keys halfway.

The track follows the crater rim, with magnificent views of Banks Peninsula.

It passes through Whatarangi, Mt Sinclair and Mt Fitzgerald Scenic Reserves, forest remnants featuring tōtara, kahikatea, mātai.

Most of the track is in open country and is very exposed so be prepared for all weather conditions. There is little water along the way so take plenty with you.

The Port Levy end connects with a track that heads west along the ridges to Mt Herbert/Te Ahu Pātiki (919m), the Mt Bradley Track and the Packhorse Hut. This section of track takes about 2 hours to where it reaches the summit of Mt Herbert. Refer to the Mt Herbert /Te Ahu Pātiki and Kaituna Valley to Packhorse track sections.

Note: the open land at the Hilltop end of the walkway is private property. Walkway users must exit via Montgomery Park Scenic Reserve.

Montgomery Park Scenic Reserve

Time: 10 min return to tōtara tree, 2 hr Summit Road to Rocky Peak return
Category: Walking track 

Drive to Hilltop on the Akaroa Highway then turn along the Summit Road for 200 m to a small area at the side of the road where you can park.

An outstanding feature of this reserve is a huge forked lowland tōtara which may be 2,000 years old and measures 8.5 metres around its trunk.

The tōtara can be reached after a few minutes walk into the bush which also features tōtara, mataī and fuschia/kōtukutuku.

The track winds up steadily through forest and then north through open grasslands and regenerating bush.

Good views are possible from this section of track. The track then turns and climbs steeply up a gap in the bluffs, over boulders. It reaches open tussock tops before eventually climbing onto 'Rocky Peak', with views of the peninsula and Akaroa Harbour.

This track is part of the longer Port Levy to Montgomery Park Scenic Reserve - Te Ara Pātaka

Ellangowan Scenic Reserve

Time: 30 - 40 min return
Category: Walking track 

From Akaroa, travel 7 km up Long Bay Road to the Summit Road junction known as the 'Cabstand'. Turn onto Hickory Bay Road and travel 1 km to the sign-posted car park.

From here walk down the road for 5 minutes to pick up the start of the track, marked with a DOC green and gold post. The track climbs to the ridge and then along to a rocky outlook on a 12 m bluff near the centre of the reserve. It then drops down to meet with Hickory Bay Road, with a short walk back to the beginning.

This reserve is the northeastern limit of beech trees on Banks Peninsula. There is an excellent contrast between wetter and drier faces, and many of the rocky bluffs are home for a variety of interesting herbs.

Nikau Palm Gully Scenic Reserve

Time: 4 - 6 hr return
Category: Walking track  

Crosses private land to reach Nīkau Palm Gully, so obtain permission to cross. Ring beforehand. Contact Jeff Hamilton, Onuku Farm Hostel, phone +64 3 304 7066.

From Akaroa follow Kaik Road 4 km to the road end at the front gate of a private farm hostel.

Follow a farm track from the hostel for about 1 hour 30 minutes, winding in and out of several headlands.

The scenic reserve is signposted with a cut track and staircase leading into the gully in the creek bed. Travel down the boulder bed of the creek to the waterfall with fine views along the sea-cliff faces. The size and number of nīkau palms makes this one of the best coastal forest remnants in Canterbury.

Tutakakahikura Scenic Reserve

Time: 1 hr
Category: Walking track  

This road is a steep, narrow, gravel road suitable for four wheel drive vehicles only.

From Akaroa, take the Akaroa Lighthouse Road for about 7 km. Turn left onto Flea Bay Road - the reserve is signposted about 1 km from the turn-off, but continue down the road to Flea Bay where there is a lower reserve sign.

Walking up through the reserve and then back down the Flea Bay Road to the bottom creates a loop walk.

Tutakakahikura Scenic Reserve is a narrow stand of remnant red beech/tawairaunui forest, in a steep gully. Red beech has a very limited distribution on Banks Peninsula, making this small reserve a significant regional feature.

A section of the Banks Peninsula Track passes through the reserve, at a reasonably easy grade. For use of the track outside the reserve, phone +64 3 304 7612, email bankstrack@xtra.co.nz or visit the Banks Track website. 

Getting there

Banks Peninsula reserves and tracks are widely scattered and best accessed by car. Akaroa, 83 km from Christchurch, is situated on the edge of a deep harbour. Allow 1 hour 30 minutes to drive as the Christchurch to Akaroa Highway climbs and turns steeply.

There are two bus services to Akaroa; Akaroa Shuttle (0800 500 929) and French Connection (0800 800 575).

The roads on Banks Peninsula are winding, steep, narrow and not all are sealed. Some are four-wheel drive only. Parking is limited for some reserves. Drive cautiously.

Know before you go

Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.

Contacts

Ōtautahi / Christchurch Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 379 4082
Address:   Co-located with the Christchurch i-site
28 Worcester Boulevard
Christchurch 8140
Email:   christchurchvc@doc.govt.nz
Full office details
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