The Banks Peninsula Track is a 31km circular track located on the east coast of the South Island and is a mixture of forest and farm. A friend of mine, Diane, did this walk earlier this year and kindly agreed to write something about her experiences:
“If you are looking for an easily accessible, 3-day track with variety, interest and great (stunning) views then my recommendation is the Banks Peninsula Track. It is especially good for the shoulder season – I think that high summer in Canterbury would be far too hot for this walk.
The track sets out from the township of Akaroa and travels up and over the edge of an extinct volcano. The steep terrain covers sheep paddocks before merging into rocky, boulder-strewn hill-top from where, on a good day, Aorangi/Mt Cook is visible in the (far) distance. The journey back down to sea level is through familiar NZ bush alongside a stream complete with waterfalls and swimming holes. Cook yourself dinner at the comfortable, but not luxurious, accommodation and then as dusk falls head around to the farmhouse for a guided tour of the penguin colony and perhaps be lucky enough to see the penguins making their way ashore and heading ‘home’ for the night.
Day 2 is a short day, walking along the cliff-tops looking down at seal colonies, and watching shipping pass far out to sea. Pleasant walking with enough up-and-down to make it a challenge. A particular highlight – and another new experience – is the long-drop with no door. It is situated so you can look straight out to sea and vaguely resembles an arm chair. The proprietor has a whimsical sense of humour. Tonight’s accommodation is a range of bunkhouses, cabins, a hot-water shower built around a massive tree, and an outside bath heated by building a fire underneath it. I found it absolutely magical to have a penguin roosting box, complete with penguin and chick, outside my cabin door and could have stayed another night or two here just to enjoy the exuberant and joyful atmosphere of frivolity the owner has created.
On the third day we reluctantly leave this idyllic place and head back up over the crater’s rim. It’s a 700 metre climb and fairly gnarly in places but straightforward enough. Take lots of breaks to look back down the valley to the sea and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing how far you’ve climbed. A stroll takes you back down to Akaroa and transport back to Christchurch.
All in all it’s a wonderful experience and one that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend. I loved it and I hope you do too.”
Thanks Diane. It sounds amazing