Walking times for tracks around Banks Peninsula range from 10 minutes to several hours, with walks suitable for people with low to moderate fitness and abilities.

Track overview

Walking and tramping

Various times Easy: Walking track

Seasonal restrictions

Pigeon Bay Walkway is closed from 15 July to 30 November each year for lambing.

Dog access

No dogs

About this track


Kaituna Valley Scenic Reserve

Time: 10 min

From Christchurch travel along the Akaroa Highway about 40 km, turn left at Kaituna Valley Road and travel about 5 km.

The walk, starting and finishing at the picnic area, winds through the bush of the reserve and surrounding rank exotic grass.

Kaituna Valley Scenic Reserve is about 6 hectares of bush remnant with a few large mataī and kaikahikatea. The outstanding feature is the healthy even-aged stand of New Zealand ash/tītoki. One of the largest stands left in Canterbury, it is known for the showy display of brilliant scarlet and black fruits. Māori steamed these and squeezed oil from them for medicine and perfume.

Picnic tables and toilets are available.

Okuti Valley Scenic Reserve

Time: 20 min return

From Christchurch turn right just before Little River, then left following Okuti Valley Road 4 km to the reserve.

A short walk from the picnic area leads to the start of Reserve Road, a shingle no-exit road. From here the track zigzags gently up through the heart of the reserve. The track meets back up with Reserve Road, which walkers can follow down to make a round trip back to the picnic area.

Birds are plentiful in this reserve, which features lowland forest such as kaikahikatea, tōtara, māhoe and kānuka. The kahikatea is growing with Carex secta (large swamp sedge) and is thought to be the last place left on Banks Peninsula for this once very common association.

Stone picnic tables provide seating for visitors and toilets are available.

Hay Scenic Reserve

Time: 20 min return

Follow the Akaroa Highway to Hilltop, then along the Summit Road to the Pigeon Bay turnoff. The reserve is adjacent to the Pigeon Bay road, 5 km from the turnoff.

Head clockwise around this scenic loop track through one of the best remaining stands of lowland podocarp forest on the peninsula. Large mataī, kaikahikatea, tōtara, and miro mix with exotics in this small reserve.

The easy grade makes this walk suitable for small children and family groups.

Pigeon Bay Walkway

Time: 4-5 hours return

Seasonal restrictions: Pigeon Bay Walkway is closed from 15 July to 30 November each year for lambing. 

Follow Akaroa Highway to Hilltop, then turn left along Summit Road to the Pigeon Bay Road turnoff. Follow this road to the coast, turn right on to Wharf Road. The walking track starts at the end of Wharf Road, by the yacht club building. It is about 14 km long, well signposted and follows a grassy vehicle track of easy grade.

Note: this is a walking track only. No dogs allowed.

Features include spectacular coastal views, tītoki trees, akeake, and native passion vine/kōhia at their southern limits.

Ōtepatotu Scenic Reserve

Time: 1 hr return

From Christchurch follow the Akaroa Highway to Hilltop, then turn left. Ōtepātotu is located along the Summit Road midway between Okains and Le Bons Bays.

A loop track starts and finishes at the picnic area.

Walk along the track to a lookout point on the bluffs, with panoramic views across the harbour and surrounding landscape.

From the lookout the track climbs through a remnant of mountain tōtara forest to reach the summit of Lavericks Peak (755 metres). Nearing the summit, trees are hung with weeping moss, creating a 'goblin forest' atmosphere, appropriate to the loose translation of the name Ōtepātotu, 'place of the fairies'.

The return track travels down through a native fuchsia/kōtukutuku gully forest on the southern side.

Picnic tables and toilets are available.

Akaroa Head Scenic Reserve

Time: 40 min return

From Akaroa, take the Akaroa Lighthouse Road - 11 km of steep, narrow rough road, suitable for four wheel drive vehicles.

Note: from the car park it is foot access only. 

The road descends past the foundations of the lighthouse keeper’s house and other buildings, to the site of the old lighthouse.

From here, follow the old supply road, constructed 1878 -79, which ends at an iron ladder descending to a rock shelf in Little Haylocks Bay.

The original Akaroa lighthouse was replaced in 1977 by an automated light, and in 1980 the lighthouse was relocated to Akaroa.

Botanical significance of this reserve is low because of a long history of grazing, but there is plenty of wildlife.

Fur seals/kekeno are seen in the bay, with local colonies of white-fronted terns/tara, black-backed gulls/karoro and white-flippered penguins/kororā. This reserve overlooks the Akaroa Marine Reserve in the Akaroa Harbour.

There are excellent coastal views of towering cliffs.

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 mins to drive as the Christchurch to Akaroa Highway climbs and turns steeply.

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.


Ōtautahi / Christchurch Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 379 4082
Address:   Co-located with the Christchurch i-site
28 Worcester Boulevard
Christchurch 8140
Full office details
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