NOTE : In February 2005, we spent two weeks on holiday on Banks peninsula. I undertook to compile a list of the walks we enjoyed while there for the owners of our temporary residence.
As some of the directions start from there, I record that we stayed at Cod Cottage on Onawe Flat Road, on the east side of Onawe Peninsula, which is at the north end of Akaroa Harbour. It was an excellent base for our holiday.

Here it is in case anyone else is interested.

Banks Peninsula Walks

Listed in the order in which we tried them. This has no deeper significance whatever.



All the way round. Jetty ( informative notice board ), observe Onawe Pa at the end ( go there too if you like, but we made that a separate walk - see below ), observe the old sawmill and wonder why they had to add the dates later, explore the odd recreation area ( ? ) opposite the rubbish station. We walked back along the main road, which is not much fun, but good exercise.

Where : Outside the gate. ( N36:042171 )

Information : Just looking. BBB would have helped a little, but says nothing about the Barry's Bay side.

Difficulty : Easy apart from the return along the main road; that's fairly steep in places.


Where : Drive round the main road towards Akaroa. After Takamatua, there's a fairly sharp right turn, with a sort of crossroads half way round. Turn sharp left onto Long Bay Road. Continue along Long Bay Road to the car park, which is clearly marked. On the way you pass a junction with Summit Road, Hickory Bay Road, and Brocheries Road; if you reach Goughs Road you've gone too far. ( N36:126108 )

Information : 202 Great Walks ( not much detail ); Hinewai information sheet, available at the reserve car park.

This is a bush reserve on the eastern side of the peninsula, behind Akaroa, where there is a network of paths.

We selected :
1 : A short walk from the carpark on Long Bay Road to Mikimiki Knob, a viewpoint over Otanerito Bay, and back. ( The track continues to Jules Knob, but we didn't try that. )

Difficulty : Fairly easy, and quite short. There's a bit of a climb up to the viewpoint, but the slope is not steep.

2 :A round tour along the Wahanui Track, West Track, Sudden View Track, South Track, East Track, and back to the car park on the Wahanui Track again. A few nice views, lots of healthy bush, a few streams and waterfalls, some on side tracks.

Difficulty : Significant. Most of the tracks are quite steep, particularly those going towards the sea. The paths are well maintained, but you need strong shoes at least. A slightly shorter, and possibly easier, circuit is possible, but we didn't try it.


Where : Drive to the hotel, turn left on the main road, then right at the top of the hill along Pigeon Bay Road. Follow that to Pigeon Bay, turn right over the bridge, and follow the road round the bay to the end, where there is the Pigeon Bay sailing club ( or something like that ) building and jetty. There's a sign to the path right at the end of the road, near the water. ( N36:020255 )

Information : Banks Peninsula; Pigeon Bay Walkway ( not specially helpful ).

Difficulty : Mostly easy and fairly level; a few rather steeper bits, but nothing really taxing if you can walk the distance. We found that the sun was a more serious problem; it's very exposed.

This walk is mostly on open farmland by Pigeon Bay on the northern side of the peninsula.

The path begins as a footpath, and is marked by distinctive poles. After a while, it joins a farm track, and you carry on along that for the rest of the time. ( Well, we did, but we didn't get quite to the end; the map in "Banks Peninsula" shows a final short path to a lookout. )


Where : This is the bit at the end of the Onawe peninsula, starting where the road turns round to go back along the other side. ( N36:042160 )

Information : 202 Great Walks; BBB; Banks Peninsula.

Difficulty : Not difficult, but a long steady pull up. It's very exposed; we went on a hot sunny day, and noticed it.

Start from the road along a track to the right ( west ) of the ridge, which takes you to a gate and stile on the rising hill. This track is under water at high tide, but we tried it near high tide and crossed easily with knee-deep water. The path itself was firm, and not slippery. From the gate, the main path through the grass is fairly clear, and gets clearer as you go on. The view from the summit is superb.

BBB gives more detail, and identifies several features of archaeological interest. These are not so well marked; we think we found one or two, but then rather lost interest. Having distances given in paces didn't help much, as I am tall and Jean is short; half way between our guesses seemed to be about right. We are not dedicated archaeologists.

Having reached the summit, we tried to find the alternative route back, but failed. I planned to have another look for the landward end of the track, but didn't have time.

( ADDED IN 2010 : we've been again, and found the alternative route back. It is just about as shown in BBB, roughly north-east from the summit, but it isn't very well marked, and it was some time before we were confident that we really had found a "real" path. The landward end is, in fact, well marked, but so are quite a lot of other side turnings. )


Where : Summit Road, about 500m from Hilltop - a tiny "carpark" on the uphill side of the road. ( N36:995178 )

Information : Banks Peninsula. Mentioned in 202 Great Walks, but only as the end of another longer walk.

Difficulty : Through the trees the path is fairly steep but mostly reasonably well made. It gets narrower and rockier as you go on. The final climb to the top of the ridge is a steep rock scramble, which requires a bit of stamina.

The path is clearly marked from the road. It starts through quite dense bush and zigzags up the hillside. There are one or two glimpses of views, and a couple of very big trees. At the top of the bush, the path turns sharply up a quite steep and scrambly crack in the cliff. ( In fact, it's the second inviting crack - there are some signs, but they're not always where you'd like them. I've forgotten the details, but remember that the first crack looked as though it might be the path, while the second obviously was the path. )

The view from the top is panoramic and magnificent. The land is open, and there's room to wander about a little.


Where : Parkinson's Road, off Kaituna Valley Road. ( N36:851196 )

Information : DOC leaflet "Kaituna Valley and the Sign of the Packhorse Scenic Reserves"; 202 Great Walks ( but it doesn't say much ); Banks Peninsula ( briefly ).

Difficulty : Nothing is specifically difficult, but there's a lot of it. Stamina is necessary. A couple of shallow streams which have to be forded might have given trouble if it had been raining more, but we had none. The climb just goes up, with very little relief, and takes around two hours. Coming down is a dream.

The beginning of the path is well marked, but I've forgotten how. There's a bit of road-side room for parking. The first section of the path ( not marked on the Land Information map ) goes across farmland from the sharp corner in Parkinson's Road to the beginning of the track marked on the map up the stream valley, bypassing the farm. Then it's a steady pull up the track until the footpatch branches off to the left just after crossing a stream. Then there's yet more uphill, steepish in places, up to the hut. It's fairly well marked all the way, though there were one or two places where we wondered if we were still on the right track - but the commonsense answer is always the right one ( we assert ).

When there are views, they are excellent views. When we went, it was cloudy, and there was some rain. The bits we saw, both north into Lyttelton Harbour and south down the Kaituna Valley, were spectacular when they were there.

If it hadn't been cold and wet, we'd have looked at the Remarkable Dykes, about a kilometre or so to the west. But we didn't.

If you like churches, it's worth having a look at St Kentigern's, by the Kaituna Valley Road - pretty and peaceful.


Where : From the Summit Road behind Governor's Bay, Lyttelton Harbour. ( M36:805315 )

Information : "Walking Tracks - Lyttelton Harbour Basin, Set I".

Difficulty : The Crater Rim and Totara Log tracks are reasonably easy. The Watling Track is stony and quite steep, though well marked; coming down doesn't require too much energy, but you have to be fairly agile. The Bivvy Track is steep, mostly uphill, with a loosish surface in some places, and not too well marked. It's a steady uphill pull, and requires a good degree of fitness.

We'd been to Christchurch to do some shopping, and paused for this walk on the way back. It's an arbitrary selection from a large number of possibilities; see the information sheet.

We started from the car park to the east of the Summit Road, 2.3 km ( it says ) south from the Sign of the Kiwi. We followed the Watling Track to a point marked "open view", from which you can see Lyttelton Harbour, and ( just ) the Packhorse Hut. We had to be careful with some of the track marking, which was slightly confusing in places, but I've forgotten just how. We managed to work it out. We then followed the Totara Log Track, and climbed back up using the Bivvy Track. A short stretch of the Crater Rim Track closes the circuit.

It was a very good walk.


Where : From Western Valley Road; there's a good carpark at the summit with signs. ( N36:926214 ? )

Information : "Banks Peninsula" ( briefly ).

Difficulty : Not much. The hills are not very demanding; we had more trouble with some awkwardly rough surfaces, hidden by the grass. Stamina is the main requirement.

Just follow the path going east. ( There's another going west, which we didn't try. ) It's an undulating track mostly through open country along the ( unmade ) Summit Road. We walked until it was time to turn round; the track goes further ( eventually to Montgomery Park, it says in the book ). There's nothing specifically spectacular, but we enjoyed the openness and broad views.


Where : Okuti Valley Road ( N36:966135 ). ( We got there by following the Bossu Road from Wainui - recommended. )

Information : "Banks Peninsula" ( but some details are wrong : there isn't a "toilet", and the walk doesn't start from Okuti Valley Road ).

Difficulty : It's a bit steep in places, but quite short. Not very demanding.

From the picnic area, cross the bridge and turn left up Reserve Road; the entrance is on the left just a short distance along. The track goes through the woods and back to the track higher up; you can return along the track.

It's a narrow, slightly muddy track going fairly steeply uphill through woods. The book mentions birds; if you're not keen on birds, it's a little exercise and not much more.


Where : Akaroa. ( N36:076118 )

Information : "Woodills Track Section A" and "Woodills Track Section B". We did the complete Woodills Walk, but you can split it into two if you want.

Difficulty : The going is easy, but there's a lot of up and down. A good degree of fitness and stamina is needed.

Start at the bottom of Woodills Road, towards the north end of Akaroa. The track goes up into the hills behind Akaroa, crosses towards the south, and returns down Rue Balguerie.

It's made up of lots of little bits, too complicated to describe in detail. Get the leaflets from the Akaroa Information Centre; they are slightly cryptic in places, but very detailed and very helpful.

It was far better than we expected. You get plenty of exercise, and the views are excellent.

Alan Creak,
2005 September
slightly amended 2010 April.