Keep your eyes open…
For the nature lovers among you, Banks Track is a great opportunity to get among the flora and fauna at your own pace.
Guided walks are great until you are interested in something the rest of the group don’t find enthralling. That’s when a self-paced walk is so much better. The great thing about the Banks Track is that each walker is given a Track Booklet which points out the features along the track including beech forest, waterfalls, seal colonies, sooty shearwater breeding grounds and penguins colonies to name a few.
Many of the plants of note are labelled along the Banks Track route including kahikatea, mamaku tree ferns and nikau palms. Also of interest are the smaller plants not usually labelled, such as the endemic Akaroa daisy, the tiny Banks Peninsula button daisy, the white sun orchid, and the mat daisy which is found on “rock outcrops on the Peninsula where it is next to invisible to all but the keenest observers” (From Plant Life on Banks Peninsula by Hugh D Wilson).
By taking your time, looking up, down and along the track edges you will find many plant toanga (treasures) to be amazed by.
The fauna found along the Banks Track is as abundant as the flora. The bird life always astounds with its song and activity. There are hawks, falcon and kereru (wood pigeon) flying overhead, pīpipi (brown creeper), grey warblers and silver eyes sifting through the bushes, redpolls, yellowhammer and gold finch in the fields, penguins, terns and albatross along the coast.
Some people say they didn’t see or hear many birds. When questioned they admit they did not stop to listen. One easy way to notice the birds around you is to stop and stay quiet for five minutes. Listen and look but do not move about. At first you will hear little, but as you settle, your ears and eyes will notice more. Also, the longer you keep quiet and still the more the birds will relax, chatter and move about their business as normal. You can see and hear many different bird species in a short five minute “survey”.
Abundant, but requiring interest and attention to find, are the numerous insects and spiders making up the bulk of the worlds biomass. Of particular interest are the orb and the water spiders, the cicadas that wait patiently underground for seven years before erupting in an cacophony of clicks on warm summer days, and the Akaroa Tree Weta, which is endemic to the “wildside” of Banks Peninsula.
So, take your time and keep your ears and eyes open as you walk the Banks Track – you never know what might cross your path.