BANKS PENINSULA TRACK FOUR DAY WALK
The four day walk is simply one of New Zealand's great walking holidays.
It gives you the time to hike the side tracks, watch the birds and wildlife, swim, sunbathe, read, play games, beachcomb ... to explore more or to relax in beautiful surroundings.
The leisurely pace of this walk makes it an option open to all age groups. It is also excellent as a 'first tramp' for the novice walker; or as a first or last tramp for the visitor flying to or from Christchurch airport.
It is easy to arrange with free car parking, free bus to start, informative guide booklet, hot showers, flush toilets, and good food and drink and pack cartage options. It also includes the free penguin tour (spring/early summer) and kayaking option, and with our limit of 12 walkers per day, it is never crowded on the track or at your accommodation.
After your first nights' stay at Onuku Farm Trampers' Hut, the Banks Peninsula Track climbs up and over the crater rim surrounding Akaroa Harbour. From there it descends through native forest to the Pacific Coast, where you stay for your second night.
The Track then follows this dramatic coastline, via clifftops, rocky bays and sandy beaches for your next two days walking and two nights.
On your final day you ascend once more through both the regenerating and ancient forest of Hinewai Reserve before cresting the crater rim at Purple Peak saddle and descending to Akaroa.
The Track route is wonderfully diverse, passing through lush native bush and beech forest, with waterfalls and birdsong, and crossing open pasture with stunning panoramic views.
Walking Distances and Estimated Times
Section 1 Onuku - Flea Bay 11 kms, 4-6 hrs
Section 2 Flea Bay - Stony Bay 8 kms, 2-4 hrs
Section 3 Stony Bay - Otanerito Beach 6 kms, 2-3 hrs
Section 4 Otanerito Beach - Akaroa 10 kms, 3-5 hrs
Four day walkers walk one section per day
You quickly gain height after passing the Onuku farm buildings following the grass farm road to the abandoned site of Paradise Farm. Continue up through open pasture with stunning views of Akaroa Inner Harbour until finally reaching Trig GG, the highest point on the walk. From here on clear days there are views over to the Southern Alps. Soon after there is a walkers' shelter, before you cross over the crater rim. A brief road section starts the descent into Flea Bay, you turn off at Mortlock's Mistake, following the stream through conservation reserves with red beech and regrowth hardwood forest, and a series of four waterfalls, (access behind the veil of the last one) before emerging into the grazed land of the valley floor. In the last 20 minutes you pass Nikau palms at their southernmost limit. The cottage is just 200m from the beach and Pohatu marine reserve.
The Track leaves Flea Bay by climbing to just 150 metres altitude and then traversing along the eastern side of the bay above Pohatu marine reserve, giving good views, with seats provided for dolphin and penguin viewing. The narrow track continues on through the DOC penguin sanctuary area and rounds the tip of the headland before reaching the gully above Island Nook. From here it follows the dramatic clifftop route to the iron oxide stained cliffs of Redcliffe Point before dropping down to the 'Gull and Shag' shelter built against the rock wall. You cross a stream here, near the Seal Cave, a reliable haunt of fur seals, often swimming and playing with their young amongst the rocks or curled up asleep in the cave. The track climbs steeply after this to the ridge (with great views to Pompeys Pillar to the north), and then follows round the coast before a steep descent brings you down onto the beach. You cross the small creek and walk a hundred yards up the valley to the Stony Bay cottages.
From Stony Bay you climb briefly through regenerating coastal forest (penguin sanctuary) before heading out to Blowhole Point (where in favourable conditions the sea whooshes up through a small hole in the rock shelf). You then swing inland again past rock-walled Blind Bay, up a bushy gully, and out to the southern headland of Sleepy Bay with it's spectacular view of the Sea Arch. Sheltered Sleepy Bay is in delightful contrast, a good place to lunch or linger - its high bush-girt waterfall is just a couple of minutes off the main track. You cross one more spur, passing the site where Ngai Tahu warriors fought a decisive battle with Ngati Mamoe some 300 years ago, before joining the broad farm track down to Otanerito beach.
Walks to 'Fantail falls' or the 'Stones' viewpoint are options for the energetic, after arrival.
The first kilometre from Otanerito beach is through farmland alongside the creek, but for most of the way upvalley the route traverses Hinewai Reserve through extensive regenerating native forest and some mature old-growth beech forest. The gradient is gentle at first, following the lower reaches of Narbey Stream, with short sidetracks leading to waterfalls. The second half of the ascent is steeper but under shady forest canopies. Eventually you emerge into a parkland of native trees and pasture at Brocheries Flat, before making the last short climb to Purple Peak saddle, 590m above sea level. Akaroa Harbour spreads out below you like a satellite image. For the energetic, a 40 minute steep side track leads to the even loftier viewpoint of Taraterehu, or Stony Bay Peak, 806m. From the saddle the track descends quite steeply through grassy farmland gullied with native bush and surrounded by spacious views in all directions, finally entering town by Mt Vernon Lodge and Rue Balguerie.
On the four day walk you spend a night at each of the four huts of the Banks Peninsula Track. These are all completely different from each other, ranging from the purpose built lodge at Onuku and colonial cottages of Stony Bay through to the old farm cottage at Flea Bay and original farm homestead at Otanerito.
They all have fully equipped kitchens, comfortable bedrooms and bathrooms with flush toilets and hot showers.
There is no 'official' hosting at the accommodations on the Banks Peninsula Track. Each hut is owned and run by different families with a high degree of independence as to how they operate. Our intention from the outset was to try and provide walkers with everything they needed for an enjoyable stay and to remain as much in the background as possible, with our contact being at the personal level rather than in the pre-arranged 'tourist' format. In many cases you will not see anyone, but we are usually around and if you need anything or wish to ask questions, please come to the farmhouse and find us!
Onuku Farm Trampers’ Hut
This first night for all walkers is in two purpose built lodges with panoramic views over Akaroa Harbour
The larger is for the four day walkers and has 2 x 4 bunk bedrooms and a spacious 4 bed loft. Or you may choose, for fun, to sleep in one of the double bed 'stargazers' where you can lie in your bed and see the stars.
There is a well equipped kitchen/dining room. Gas stoves and water, solar powered lighting. Log burner.
Toilets and hot shower are shared with two day walkers.
Flea Bay Cottage
This charming 160 yr old pioneer cottage is the second night for the four day walkers.
It is set just 200m back from the safe swimming beach and with verandah views of the bay and Pohatu marine reserve
Electric stove, lights, hot water, shower. Log burner, flush toilets, lots of room. Piano. Gas barbecue.
Three bedrooms in house with 4 beds.
Two x 2 bedrooms in adjacent building.
The cottage is sited within the boundaries of the largest mainland colony of Little Penguin in NZ. Penguins may be heard calling from surrounding hillsides especially in October.
Stony Bay Cottage
The third night for four day walkers is a delightful collection of self-contained colonial style cottages.
The four day walk cottage has an open fireplace and log burner, gas cooking, barbecue, candles for lighting, electrically heated shower, flush toilets, and a 'bath under the stars'.
Toilets and hot shower are shared with two day walkers.
Main cottage has two 4 bed rooms.
Three other 2 bed cottages with kitchens.
Also a small 'museum' and lovely outdoor areas.
A full range of shop supplies are available at Stony Bay.
Otanerito Beach House
The fourth night for four day walkers is set in a delightful 'out of control' organic garden, abundant with both exotic and native plants, the house is just fifty yards from a safe, sandy beach with good swimming in calm seas and great boogie boarding when the surf is up.
Kitchen and two bedrooms in house 4/6, and garden sleepout for 2.
Outside double toilet/shower block.
Free coffee, tea, sugar.... and a good selection of books, magazines, indoor and outdoor games.
Otanerito Beach Tramper's Shop also has a full range of supplies.
FOOD AND DRINK
The Track is Self - catering, with the following options, which are all payable by cash.
On your first evening at Onuku, and following morning, you need to bring all your own supplies.
On your second evening at Flea Bay Cottage there are Drinks and Chocolate available.
On your third and fourth evenings at Stony Bay and Otanerito there are Trampers' shops.
These two shops are well stocked and open to walkers whenever they arrive. They are restocked daily, and provide sufficient choice and quantity to cater for individuals or groups. Expect to pay prices roughly similar to a remote country dairy..
Trampers' shops supply list.
As well as a good supply of Cold drinks, stocks include
Cereals, Milk, Bread, Butter, Bacon, Eggs, Coffee, Tea, Sugar, Chocolate, Biscuits, Fresh vegetables, Soup, Tinned fish, Cheese, Fresh fruit, tins fruit, tinned tomatoes, Noodles, Pasta, Potatoes, Sausages, Steaks, Mince, and Ice Cream.
PACK CARTAGE OPTIONS
Standard Pack cartage is available as an option on the first and last of the four sections of Track. These are the two longest sections and also those with most ascent and descent.
Payment is by cash, no pre-booking required.
On both sections the per pack charge is subject to a minimum of two packs.
Section 1. Onuku Farm to Flea Bay. $15 per pack. Arrival of packs, by 2.00pm.
Section 4. Otanerito to Akaroa. $10 per pack. Arrival of packs, by 1.00pm.
Fee includes storage in Akaroa.
TIP. If you have a vehicle parked at Mt Vernon, keep your keys with you, as you will pass Mt Vernon 30 mins before reaching your packs at Akaroa.
Additional luggage (not valuables) can be stored during your walk for $5.00. Bring to the bus pick up.
Full pack cartage is primarily an option for larger groups as the distances and time involved make it impossible to provide for very small numbers at a reasonable rate.
The charge is $85 per pack with minimum of 6 packs per day ($510). This option must be booked in advance.
Pack Cartage and Eco-Tourism, the conflicting desires!
No issue has taken up more time or caused more debate for the Track members than the issue of pack cartage on the middle section of the Track.
One of the distinctive attractions of the Banks Peninsula Track is the remoteness of the bays, not just from Akaroa, but from each other. No farm tracks go the whole way from one bay to another, the only way for us to drive to our neighbour’s property in the next bay is via Akaroa township. The return trip is never less than 70kms, although the walking distance may only be 6 or 8 kms.
This topography is one of the reasons why the bays have such a unique feel, and why the walking track around the coast, linking up these remote farms, is so special. But it also has a big impact on our thoughts and policy regarding pack cartage around the Track, and especially as it affects our desire for the Track to be as eco friendly as we can make it. We hope the facilities provided on the Track will allow you to carry only a light pack, but understand that some walkers simply cannot carry more than a daypack, and we hope our full pack cartage option will enable them to be able to still walk and enjoy the Track.
Additional luggage (not valuables) can be stored during your walk for $5.00. Bring to the bus pick-up.
FREE PENGUIN TOUR
Flea Bay boasts the largest mainland colony of any little penguin on mainland New Zealand.
On the second evening of the four day walk, Francis Helps invites Track walkers to join him on his evening tour of the white flippered penguin nesting boxes that he has established and maintains on the farm. Sometimes Yellow Eye penguins (Hoiho) are also seen.
The penguins breed between September and mid - January, and adults moult between December and end of February. The tours are seasonal, spring and early summer, stopping around the end of January, with the best viewing month being October.
Free, (optional conservation donation)
The Banks Peninsula Track runs alongside Pohatu Marine Reserve.
Shireen Helps offers a special discount to Track walkers on her kayaking trips at Flea Bay/Pohatu Marine Reserve. The most usual time is in the morning after staying the night there.
This trip can be mind blowing in the right sea conditions. The outer coast of Pohatu Marine Reserve is spectacular with towering sea cliffs sculpted through the ages by the sea into rock stacks, reefs, and deep sea caves. Flea Bay Island and the impressive island arch make an added exciting attraction.
Even if the outer coast is too rough for kayaking the sheltered bay has a lot to offer. Pohatu/ Flea Bay is home to seals that can almost always be seen lounging on the rocks or swimming nearby. During the breeding or moulting season penguins are often found sitting in and around rock crevices, or maybe swimming out on the water of the bay. Often Hectors Dolphins join us and swim along with the kayaks.
A large fleet of safe stable doubles and experienced guides enables even the inexperienced to enjoy an unforgettable experience - trips may be accompanied free of additional charge. Please note - kayaking is subject to sea conditions. Kayak hire is open when at least the sheltered bay can be kayaked.
By private vehicle.
Akaroa is a scenic 85km drive from Christchurch on State Highway 75. Leave Christchurch at the south eastern corner of Hagley Park along Lincoln Road. Allow 90 mins for the journey.
Petrol and refreshments are available at Tai Tapu, Little River, and Duvauchelle along the way, and Little River Gallery and Barrys Bay Cheese factory are well worth a visit.
Public Transport from Christchurch to Akaroa (and return)
Regular bus services are provided (up to 3 per day) by
Akaroa Shuttle 0800 500 929
French Connection 0800 800 575
Taxi bus services are provided at good rates by
Outer bays tours 027 489 7200
Akaroa Tours and Taxi 027 695 6981 e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
All the bus/taxi services drop you off within 50m of Akaroa old Post Office.
Christchurch/Airport Pick Up
Christchurch has an international airport with direct flights to all the major Australian cities as well as many other international destinations. As the major South Island airport, it also has good connecting flights to almost all other NZ destinations.
Outer bays tours offer the tracks bus, or a van for smaller groups, to charter for groups arriving in Christchurch. Paul can pick you up from the airport or city mid afternoon and deliver you to Akaroa, and return you to Christchurch/airport upon finishing the track. The cost is competitive with any other transport operator and the service convenient as the same bus takes you and your gear out to the first hut that night.
It may be possible to consolidate your group with others. Please contact direct to arrange.
Paul Chandler e-mail email@example.com Ph. (03) 304 7573. Cell ph. 027 489 7200.
FREE CAR PARKING
Complimentary car parking is available for walkers at the Banks Peninsula Track car park at Mt Vernon Lodge, one kilometre up Rue Balguerie from the bus departure point at Akaroa Information Centre. Allow 30 mins for parking and walk to bus pickup. Tip. Drop off passengers and backpacks in Akaroa before driving up to Mt Vernon.
FREE BUS TO START
Our Banks Peninsula Track bus leaves Akaroa old Post Office at 5.45pm for the short trip to Onuku Farm Trampers' Hut. A short orientation talk precedes bus departure and you are issued with your informative guide booklet which includes maps. Please note - there is a 10 minute walk from road end to hut.
WHAT YOU NEED
Clothing including adequate outdoor clothing for all weather.
Personal necessities (toiletries, medicines).
Cash for shop and pack cartage payments.
Torch, light indoor footwear, water bottle, swimwear, daypack (if using pack cartage), camera. Food.
You need to start the four day track with food for your first two days and nights. Drinks and chocolate are available on your second night at Flea Bay. For days and nights three and four, food and refreshments are available from two small shops at Stony Bay and Otanerito Beach.
Please note most of the track is outside cell phone range.
All the huts contain clean, fully equipped kitchens, including fridges, gas or electric stoves, pots, pans, plates, cups, cutlery, t-towels, tin openers, etc... so you do not need any of these. The huts contain covered mattresses, pillows and clean pillowcases.
You will need a sleeping bag to sleep in. Sleeping bags can be hired for $30 per trip. Bags are washed at Akaroa Laundry between each hire. Hire should be arranged in advance (preferably by e-mail).
2011 - 2012 season prices.
$220 for 1st October - 24th December
$255 for 25th December - 7th April.
$220 for 8th - 27th April.
$195 standby (walk within 5 days of booking)
To make a booking, first check our availability guide and choose an available booking date for your number and package. You only need to have the start date available (this includes the other days/nights on either package). From there either continue with online booking, or send an e-mail enquiry to our office through the contact us page.
Bookings are secured by a 10% deposit (non-refundable) with the balance payable 90 days before walking. For online bookings, the balance will be automatically debited from your card. For e-mail or phone bookings, you will be contacted prior to payment date.
A 90% refund will be made when at least 28 days notice is given.
A 50% refund will be made when at least 7 days notice is given, otherwise payment is forfeited.
Cancelled bookings may be refilled.
Standby bookings are non refundable.
DAY WALK ITINERARY
5.45 pm pickup at Akaroa old Post Office - this is on your booking start date.
Bus transport to Onuku Trampers' Hut. Ten minute walk from bus drop-off point to hut.
First night. Onuku Trampers' Hut.
First day. Onuku to Flea Bay. 4-6 hrs walking. Pack cartage from Onuku to Flea Bay is an option.
Second night. Flea Bay Cottage. Drinks and Chocolate available. Free penguin tour in evening (seasonal Oct-Jan).
Second day. Kayaking option on marine reserve (subject to sea conditions).
Flea Bay to Stony Bay. 2-4 hrs walking.
Third night. Stony Bay Cottages. Full Trampers' shop supplies available.
Third day. Stony Bay to Otanerito. 2-3 hrs walking.
Fourth night. Otanerito Farm House. Full Trampers' shop supplies available.
Fourth day. Otanerito to Akaroa. 3-5 hrs walking. Pack cartage from Otanerito to Akaroa is an option.
Arrive Akaroa - early afternoon.