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The Track

NZ’s Original Private Walking Track

(Open each season from October 1 to April 30)

Banks Track is NZ’s original private walking track.

We are a low impact eco-tourism venture that offer a diversity of wildlife, scenery and experiences.

This unique hike follows farmland and forest, over an extinct volcano, along coasts and cliffs, through reserves and into your hosts backyards. It is 29 km of ever changing vistas, views and variety.

The accommodations reflect the personality of each nights hosts, offering rustic comfort, history, warmth and character.

Come and see why our Three Day Classic Walk rivals the DOC’s “Great Walks” as one of New Zealand’s classic hikes.

Banks Track offers a self guided, self catered, self paced hike without the crowds. It provides the comforts of more expensive guided walks, such has hot showers and flush toilets, with the freedom to walk at your own pace.

The Three Day Classic Walk and the Two Day Hikers Option follow the same route.

Banks Track – Three Day Classic Walk

The Banks Track Three-day Classic Walk includes pack cartage on all three days as you traverse the south-east corner of Banks Peninsula. You will walk on farmland,  coastal cliffs and through native forest. It is an achievable challenge for most people, even those not experienced in the outdoors. The track crosses the rim of the extinct volcano twice (up to 699m) but there is no rush. With a guaranteed bed at the end of the day, you have time for photo opportunities, side tracks, taking in the views, and enjoying the flora and fauna.

Over three days and nights, you complete a 29km journey that starts and finishes in picturesque Akaroa. You walk across private farmland and along the coast of the south-east corner of Banks Peninsula passing through nature reserves including Hinewai Reserve and the Pohatu Marine Reserve. The diversity of scenery, flora, fauna, accommodation and views combine to create a stunning experience, one that many people return to enjoy.

Three-day Classic Walk Itinerary

Banks Track – Three-Day Walk Itinerary

5.30 pm pick up (on your booking start date – you begin walking the next day) outside Akaroa’s old Post Office, 80 Rue Lavaud.

Prior to 5.30 those with their own transport will need to park their vehicle at Mount Vernon Lodge and allow 30 mins to walk back to the pick-up point.

Paul or Mafi (your bus drivers) will brief you on the key points of the next few days and answer your immediate questions. At this point, you will be given a printed guide to the route (this also acts as your ticket so please keep it with you), which is full of useful information about the walk. Keep it and read it to get the most out of your Banks Track experience.

The bus will transport you to Onuku Trampers Huts (20 minutes drive and a 10-minute walk from bus drop-off point to your hut.)

First night’s accommodation is at the Onuku Trampers Huts.

The following day: Onuku to Flea Bay

5-7 hrs walking.

You will walk from Onuku Trampers Huts through farmland to Trigg GG (699m) then into the first of the eastern bays you will traverse. The track into Flea Bay follows the steep gully through Tutakakahikura reserve and out into farmland. This second night’s accommodation is at the Flea Bay Cottage where drinks and chocolate bars are available for sale. A free penguin tour is available in the evening during the Penguin season – information about this is in the cottage.

The following day: Flea Bay to Stony Bay

3-5 hrs walking.

From Flea Bay you will follow the Pohatu Marine Reserve coast through a Little Blue Penguin colony, then walk up and down the headlands to Stony Bay. This night’s accommodation is at the Stony Bay Cottages. Full trampers shop supplies are available. There is no electricity here so ensure you have charged batteries the night before.

The final day: Stony Bay to Akaroa

5-7 hrs walking.

This includes walking through some of Hinewai Reserve and over the rim of the extinct volcano again.Your packs will be in Akaroaby 2pm. Most walkers arrive in Akaroa in the early afternoon.  To get a sense of  Day 3  watch our 90 second Youtube video by clicking here.

Optional extras – a private room or sleeping bag hire. Kayaking in Pohatu Marine Reserve.

The Three-day Classic Walk costs $330 pp. including pack cartage.

The season runs from 1st October to 30 April. 

Banks Track –  Two Day Hikers Option

The Banks Track is a spectacular two-day walk. It combines hill, forest, and coastal track to become a truly memorable experience and a great option for those who like to spend much of their day hiking. It follows the same route as the Three-day Classic Walk, but without an overnight stay at Flea Bay.

This is our hikers option. A high level of fitness is required as the 29 kms includes a lot of hill walking; the track climbs from sea level to nearly 700m twice (once each day) and features rugged exposed headlands. Walkers are encouraged to bring a very light pack and to take advantage of the trampers shop at Stony Bay on night two. All facilities are available to you, whether you are staying the night or just passing by. The Two-day Hikers Option is limited to just four walkers per day, but single groups of up to 6 may be accommodated by contacting us direct.

Two-Day Hikers Option Itinerary

Banks Track – Two-Day Hike Itinerary

5.30 pm pickup (on your booking start date – you begin walking the next day) outside Akaroa’s old Post Office, 80 Rue Lavaud.

Prior to 5.30 those with their own transport will need to park their vehicle at Mount Vernon Lodge and allow 30 minutes to walk back to the pick-up point.

Paul or Mafi (your bus drivers) will brief you on the key points of the next few days activities and answer any of your questions. At this point you will be given a printed guide to the route (this also acts as your ticket so ensure you keep it with you), which is full of useful information about the walk. Please keep it and read it as it contains invaluable information for your experience.

The bus will transport you to Onuku Trampers Huts (20 minutes drive and a 10 minutes walk from bus drop-off point to hut.) The first night’s accommodation is at the Onuku Trampers Huts.

The following day: Onuku to Stony Bay

Morning – Onuku to Flea Bay. 4-6 hrs hiking.

From Onuku Trampers Hut you will hike through farmland up to Trigg GG (699m) then into Flea Bay, through the Tutakakahikura reserve. Tea and coffee are available at the Flea Bay cottage.

Afternoon – Flea Bay to Stony Bay. 2-4 hrs hiking.

From Flea Bay you will walk along the coast of the Pohatu Marine Reserve, through a Little Blue Penguin colony. Then up and down the headlands to Stony Bay. The second night’s accommodation is in the Stony Bay Cottages. A specific cottage is set aside for the Two-day Hikers. On site is a trampers shop with full meal and snack supplies available.

The final day: Stony Bay to Akaroa

4-6 hrs walking.

This includes walking through some of Hinewai Reserve.7. Most walkers arrive in Akaroa in the early afternoon.  To get a sense of this section watch the 90 second Youtube video by clicking here.

Optional extras – sleeping bags hire.

The two-day Hikers Option costs $195 pp.

The season runs from 1st October to 30 April. 

Overview

Both our Three-day Classic Walk and our Two-day Hikers Option 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’s 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

Walking Distances and Estimated Times

The Banks Track is 29 kms of hill country walking.

  • Section 1 Onuku – Flea Bay.11 kms, 5-7 hrs
  • Section 2 Flea Bay – Stony Bay.8 kms, 3-5 hrs
  • Section 3 Stony Bay – Akaroa.10 kms, 5-7 hrs

The Three-day Classic Walk covers one section per day. Grade classification – moderate.

The Two-day Hikers Option covers section one and two the first day and section three the next day. Grade classification – demanding.

Landcrossings

Your Banks Track booking gives you access to areas that are not open to the public. You’ll traverse our “back yards”, through working farmland as well as small reserve areas, Hinewai Reserve, and a short section of gravel road.

Section One

Onuku to Flea Bay

You quickly gain height after passing the Onuku farm buildings and follow the grass farm road to the abandoned site at Paradise. You continue up through open pasture with stunning views of Akaroa Inner Harbour until finally reaching Trig GG, the highest point. From here, on clear days there are views to the Southern Alps. Soon after Trig GG there is a walkers’ shelter where you can rest before crossing the crater rim. A short 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. You 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 200 m from the beach and Pōhatu marine reserve. Onuku – Flea Bay. 11 kms, 5-7 hrs

Section Two

Flea Bay to Stony Bay

The track departs Flea Bay climbing 150m  in altitude. It traverses the eastern side of the bay above Pōhatu Marine Reserve offering 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 is built against a rock wall. You cross a stream near the Seal Cave which is a reliable haunt for fur seals. They can be seen swimming and playing with their young among 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.It then follows around the coast before a steep descent brings you down onto the Stony Bay 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 offer. Flea Bay – Stony Bay. 8 kms, 3-5 hrs

Section Three

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. You will pass through the magnificent red beech forest full of ferns, birdsong and tributary streams. You emerge from the forest into snow tussock shrub land 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, zigzags down to join Purple Peak Track for the 3km descent through mostly open grassland with unimpeded vistas into Akaroa township. Stony Bay – Akaroa. 10 kms, 5-7 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.

Habitat Protection

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 between the Armstrongs, DOC and the Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust.

Side Tracks

For those who are curious and have the energy, there are over 20km of side tracks to explore along the route where you can enjoy even more spectacular views, waterfalls and wildlife.

These side tracks are detailed in the Banks Track guide booklet you are given at orientation and are well signposted along the way.

Choose the way you walk

The Banks Track starts and ends in picturesque Akaroa, a 90 min drive from Christchurch and Christchurch International Airport. You can choose the way you like to walk, the Three-day Classic Walk or the Two-day Hikers Option.

The Banks Track offers you options to enjoy tramping the way you like ~ either with your own supplies or purchasing supplies along the way, with others or in a Private Room. Walk on your own and meet other walkers or with friends and family.

Never Crowded

It is easy to arrange and never crowded on the track, or, at your accommodation as our numbers are limited to 12 walkers per day on the Three-day Classic Walk and 4 hikers per day on our Two-day Hikers Option.

Take your Time

There are no fixed daily itineraries apart from the night’s destination, you make your own way, in your own time. If you have the fitness the three-day classic walk gives you the time to hike the side tracks listed in your guide, watch the birds and wildlife, swim, beach-comb, or take more photos. You have plenty of time to explore more and relax in the beauty that is Banks Peninsula.

The Three Day Classic walk is an option open to most walkers. It is an ideal challenge for the novice walker, resulting in a sense of achievement having completed it. It is also an accessible hike for those visitors flying to or from Christchurch airport.

Absolutely the most wonderful experience at every level! Everything about this walk was truly fabulous- from our first contact with the bus driver from Christchurch through to the hospitality of the farmers themselves…the scenery, the pristine countryside….to accommodation and facilities. It way exceeded our expectations…