Both our walks start and finish in Akaroa, they take you on the same 29 km circular route around the remote and beautiful south eastern bays of Banks Peninsula. They both utilise the same accommodation, staying overnight either at all three (the three-day classic walk) or just at the first and last (the two-day hikers’ option). They both allow you to choose the pace and style of your trek with total independence from any daily itinerary. See below for details of each section
Onuku to Flea Bay
You quickly gain height after passing the Onuku farm buildings and follow the grass farm road to the abandoned site of Paradise Farm. You continue up through an open pasture with stunning views of Akaroa Inner Harbour until finally reaching Trig GG, the highest point on the trek. From here, on clear days there are views over to the Southern Alps. Soon after Trig GG there is a walkers’ shelter Where you rest before you cross over the crater rim. A road section starts the descent into Flea Bay, then you turn off at Mortlock’s Mistake following the stream through conservation reserves that are rich with red beech and regrowth hardwood forest. We then reach a series of four waterfalls, (with access behind the veil of the last one) before emerging onto the grazed land of the valley floor. In the last 20 minutes, you will pass nīkau palms at their southernmost limit. The cottage is just 200m from the beach and Pōhatu marine reserve. Onuku – Flea Bay. 11 kms, 4-6 hrs
Flea Bay to Stony Bay
The track leaves Flea Bay by climbing to just 150 metres altitude, traversing along the eastern side of the bay above Pōhatu marine reserve offers great 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 Seal Cove Shelter that was built against the rock wall. You cross a stream near the Seal Cave which is a reliable haunt for fur seals that can be seen 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 around the coast before a steep descent brings you down onto the beach. You will cross a small creek, then walk a hundred yards up the valley to the Stony Bay cottages. Three-day Classic walkers can take their time through this section enjoying all the coast has to offeer. Flea Bay – Stony Bay. 8 kms, 2-4 hrs
Stony Bay to Akaroa
The route takes in the full extent of Stony Bay Stream which flows through a narrow bushy gully some 4.5 km long. For much of the way, height is gained gently, first across the park-like valley floor of Armstrong land. The Hinewai Reserve boundary is reached 1.5km upstream at around 120m above sea level. There are good views up wild side valleys, steep, bluffed and wooded. 3.5km up the valley from Stony Bay you have reached 400m above sea level. The next kilometre is steep, gaining nearly 300m, but very worth the effort as you pass through the magnificent tall red beech forest full of ferns, birdsong and tributary streams. You emerge from the forest into snow tussock shrubland and wonderful views, all the more appreciated because the next half kilometre, at a lofty 690m, follows horizontal Tara Track, then Paripai Track, with Akaroa harbour far below to your left, and towering Taraterehu Bluff to your right. Paripai Track zigzags down to join Purple Peak Track for the 3km descent through mostly open grassland with unimpeded vistas all the way to Akaroa township. Stony Bay – Akaroa. 10 kms, 4-6 hrs
Along the way
The Seal Cove Shelter is the grandest of the three shelters along the track. A great stop on the coastal path from Flea Bay to Stony Bay, the shelter is also situated close to the Seal Cave, a favourite place for watching wildlife.
High on cliffs before Stony Bay is a predator proof fence protecting one of the last mainland breeding sites of sooty shearwater. The dramatic cliff edge fence was a joint initiative betwen the Armstrongs, DOC and the Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust.