Introduction

Enjoy magnificent views over Banks Peninsula, the Canterbury plains, Southern Alps and Pacific ocean on this track, which is about an hour's drive from Christchurch.

Track overview

35 km one way

Walking and tramping

2-3 days Advanced: Tramping track

Mountain biking

Various options Intermediate: Grade 3
Advanced: Grade 4

Seasonal restrictions

Parts of the track are closed for lambing from August to October – check closure dates for track sections below.

Dog access

No dogs

About this track

Description

Te Ara Pātaka/Summit Walkway links Gebbies Pass in the Lyttelton crater to Hilltop in the Akaroa crater. It follows a long high ridgeline that includes Mt Herbert/Te Ahu Patiki, the highest point on Banks Peninsula.

The track can be completed as a one-way walk most of the year (part of the track is closed during lambing).

Return walks to Packhorse Hut via Kaituna Valley Road, and to Rod Donald Hut via Port Levy Saddle are possible year round.

Gebbies Pass to Packhorse Hut

Gebbies Pass to Packhorse Hut the easiest track to Packhorse Hut. It starts near the crest of Gebbies Pass Road on the Lyttelton side, where there is a small car park.

Mountain biking is allowed on this section.

Packhorse Hut.

Packhorse Hut

Category: Serviced
Facilities: 9 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Bookings required

Kaituna Valley to Packhorse Hut

Kaituna Valley Packhorse Hut Track provides alternative access to Packhorse Hut. It's open year round.

Mountin biking is not allowed on this section. 

Packhorse Hut to Mt Herbert/Te Ahu Patiki summit

Packhorse Hut to Mt Herbert/Te Ahu Patiki summit crosses the Sign of the Packhorse Scenic Reserve with many young, regenerating lancewood trees. 

Mountin biking is not allowed on this section. 

Mt Herbert/Te Ahu Patiki summit to Port Levy Saddle

Mt Herbert/Te Ahu Patiki summit to Port Levy Saddle takes you from the summit of Mount Herbert through tussock grassland to reach the summit of ‘Little Mount Herbert’. 

Mountain biking is not allowed on this section.

Port Levy saddle to Rod Donald Hut

Port Levy saddle to Rod Donald Hut track takes you through beautiful old growth tōtaraforest at Waipuna Saddle and on to Rod Donald Hut which you can prebook for an overnight stay or visit as a day walk.

Mountain biking is allowed on this section but bikes are best left at the top of the Rod Donald Hut Track. 

Rod Donald Hut.

Rod Donald Hut

Category: Serviced
Facilities: 9 bunk beds, heating, lighting, mattresses
Bookings required

Rod Donald Hut to Hilltop Hotel via Montgomery Reserve

The track from Rod Donald Hut to Hilltop Hotel passes through Montgomery Park Scenic Reserve.

Mountain biking is allowed on this section, but bikers must enter/exit via Pettigrews Road. No mountain bikes are permitted in the Montgomery reserve.

Getting there

Travelling by car

Te Ara Pātaka is best accessed by car. Allow 50 minutes to drive from Christchurch to Gebbies Pass, or 1 hour 15 minutes to Hilltop as the roads are steep and windy.

If parking at Hilltop, leave vehicles at the furthest end of the car park from the tavern itself.

Travelling by public transport

Catch public bus #28 from central Christchurch to Lyttelton,and then the ferry to Diamond Harbour. Bus and ferrytimetables are available on www.metroinfo.co.nz.

Akaroa Shuttle and Akaroa French Connection provide services between Christchurch and Akaroa, and can stop or pick up at Hilltop Tavern on request. If you book to catch the bus at the end of your walk at Hilltop, let them know to call at the Tavern. Be there 15 min after the bus departure time from Akaroa.

It is an excellent 2-day trip using public transport starting at Diamond Harbour jetty, staying overnight at Rod Donald Hut, and catching a shuttle from Hilltop Tavern back to Christchurch.

Alternative access

Te Ara Pātaka can also be accessed via a number of connecting tracks including Kaituna to Packhorse, Diamond Harbour to Mt Herbert/Te Ahu Patiki,Orton Bradley to Mt Herbert.

Pettigrews Road entry/exit for Mountain bikes.

For more information on these, see the Rod Donald Banks Peninsula website.

The track can be picked up at Port Levy Saddle, via Western Valley Road. This road is unsealed, as well as winding, rough, steep and narrow - drive carefully. It may only be passable by 4WD after heavy rain.

Mountain biking

Mountain biking is allowed on some sections of Te Ara Pātaka:

  • Gebbies Pass to Packhorse Hut - grade 4
  • Mt Herbert/Te Ahu Patiki summit to Port Levy Saddle
  • Port Levy Saddle to Hilltop Hotel but note, bikers must enter/exit via Pettigrews Road (note, the farm track to Pettigrews Road is closed for lambing 1 September - 25 October). No mountain bikes are permitted in the Montgomery Reserve - grade 3

Bookings

Packhorse Hut and Rod Donald Hut must be booked in advance.

Book online or contact the DOC office.  

Know before you go

The track is suitable for people with moderate backcountry skills and experience. It's rough and steep in places.

Although the walkway is easily accessible the weather can change quickly, and it can be very cold and exposed on the tops. The track is exposed to all weathers. It can be windy, cold and prone to low cloud in poor weather.

Make sure you are well equipped, with layered clothing and a water/wind-proof jacket.

Drinking water and toilets are only available at the huts and the Mt Herbert shelter – you must take water with you.

All tracks cross private farmland, so keep on the marked tracks and respect the working operations on the farms. Leave gates as you find them, taking extra care in large groups.

Dogs are not permitted on any tracks. Mmountain bikes are restricted to some tracks only. Firearms, motor vehicles or fires are also not permitted anywhere on this land.

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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