Banks Peninsula and Hakatere Lakes Hiking Tour Write a review
Designed for Kiwis, and Aussies too!
I designed this tour so you can experience the absolute best hikes to be had within two hours of Christchurch. The tour flows seamlessly, following trails from groovy Sumner, through bohemian Lyttelton to quaint Akaroa.
Banks Peninsula provides you with some genuinely world-class hikes. Secluded coves and bays lie far below us as we hike the high routes. Of course, our van transfers you up AND down the rugged countryside to and from the trails to save your knees and ensure you get the absolute best views. After the amazing seascapes/landscapes of Banks Peninsula we take you into the isolated back country of the Hakatere conservation area to get in touch with Canterbury’s renowned high country. We find ourselves walking in subalpine tundra, past tarn lakes, and along wide braided rivers, all the while taking in the grandeur of the snowy peaks that punctuate the horizon.
This is breathtakingly beautiful country. My formula is to provide you with fabulous walks, amazing guides, excellent food and wine and comfortable lodging with your own WC and shower at the end of the day. That’s right, no shared facilities on our tours. At the end of the day we return to our very comfortable accommodation to enjoy a great meal in jovial company. Join us, take a break, relax, and truly enjoy
Banks Peninsula and Hakatere Lakes Hiking Tour Includes:
Banks Peninsula and Hakatere Lakes Hiking Tour itinerary Request full itinerary
A low-stress start to the tour. Arrive at the hotel anytime you like this afternoon. Located in the charming beachside community of Sumner, your accommodation is perfectly located within a 2 minute walk of Sumner beach. You’ll check in and decide whether to go to the beach, take an enjoyable hike over Scarborough head to Taylors Mistake beach (written directions provided) or chill out over a coffee or a wine at the Sumner Beach bar. You’ll meet your guide and the rest of the group at 17:30 for a drink and orientation chat before going on to dinner. We will be dining a la carte at “Clink” restaurant in Sumner.
Logistics: Overnight 4-star Sumner Bay motel. Walking distance: 6 km Taylors Mistake return. About 2 hours. Overnight, and dinner included.
After breakfast in a local café of your choice, we will have a short van transfer to Taylor’s Mistake beach from where we start our walk to Lyttleton village via spectacular Godley Head. The track slowly climbs while hugging coastal cliffs. You eventually pass some WWII gun emplacements and arrive at a picnic area for a short break and WC stop. We continue on the coastal trail, but now on the north side of the heads. Immense views open up over the volcanic crater that is now the harbour while the hilly contours of Banks Peninsula emerge to the South. At Mt Pleasant saddle, sweeping views are had over the Canterbury plains and the Southern Alps. Follow the curve of Pegasus Bay with your eyes to take in the distant peaks of the Kaikoura range far to the north. We take advantage and enjoy our picnic lunch here. Afterwards, we follow our path down through regenerating native bush and beneath rocky outcrops to lovely Lyttelton. The many and varied tin-roofed weather-board cottages from another era give Lyttelton an old-world charm. We finish our hike at the Eruption Brewery, which features award winning craft beers as well as an inviting rooftop terrace overlooking the harbour. It’s a great spot to take a load off after a fabulous hike. We return to Sumner in the van, which is about a 10 minute drive. We walk to dinner in Sumner village.
Logistics: Drive time: 10 minutes to the trail head and 10 minute return drive. Walking distance: 14 km (8 mi) About 4.5 to 5 hours. Overnight, picnic lunch and dinner included. Breakfast not included. We let you choose when and what you want for breakfast. There are many cafés to choose from.
After your breakfast, we have a scenic drive along the north shore of Lyttelton harbour and into Banks Peninsula. At Little River we take a narrow road that climbs steeply up to Port Levy Saddle and our trail head. From here we have magnificent views out over the stunning bays and coves that dot the coastline. The trail alternates between the east and west side of a long ridge that descends through native bush, open farmland, and the eerie remains of an ancient Totara forest that was felled in the 1870s. Another sumptuous picnic lunch is enjoyed from a rocky outcrop overlooking Barry’s Bay, far below us. The final 45 minutes of our hike descends through lush native bush and past a truly epically proportioned Totara tree before arriving at the historic Hilltop Tavern where we enjoy a post hike libation. You will be captivated by the stupendous view out to Akaroa harbour. Our van picks us up and shuttles us to Akaroa, whose British and French colonial history is preserved in many of its 19th century buildings. Dinner at a seaside bistro, from which we enjoy the last rays of the setting sun. Overnight in 4-star accommodation.
Logistics: Drive time: 1 hr to trailhead. 30 minutes more to Akaroa. Walking distance: 15 km (9 mi), about 4.5 to 5 hours. Overnight, picnic lunch and dinner included. Breakfast not included.
After breakfast we transfer you up and over the crest of the peninsula to the eastern bays. This morning you will be hiking in the celebrated Hinewai Reserve, a 1,250 hectare, privately owned reserve, which for the past 30 years has been undertaking a wonderful ecological restoration project. The land was mostly cleared in the 1850s by the first settlers and farmed until 1987. Now, through great effort and care, indigenous vegetation and birdlife is regenerating, as you will appreciate on your hike through the dense, lush regrowth. We leave the coolness of forest, streams and waterfalls to come out onto a high ridge where once again we are rewarded with expansive views out over the whole of the peninsula. As we hike new vistas, one more beautiful than the last open up to us on all sides. We end with a gentle descent towards Akaroa village, which lies nestled at the base of the hills far below us. Our van saves you a knee-wearing descent on asphalt as we drive the last 5 km back to the village. You will have time to peruse the boutiques or chill out with a cold glass of something on a sunny terrace. Tonight, another a la carte dinner at restaurant “Ma Maison” to enjoy a little refined, French-inspired cuisine.
Logistics: Drive time: 20 minutes to trailhead, return 10 minutes. Walking distances: 12 km (7 mi) About 5 hours. Overnight, breakfast, picnic lunch and dinner included.
We say Aurevoir to Akaroa and drive you to Kaituna valley to access a beautiful track that takes you past the imposing mass of Mount Herbert. An easy, gradual climb through open farmland and patches of forest brings you to a saddle where you find “Packhorse” hut. Built just before WWI, it was to be part of a high route between Akaroa and Christchurch envisioned by one of Christchurch’s founding fathers. Locally quarried volcanic stone and timber joinery were brought up from the valley by an oxen-towed sledge. The location was well chosen, as it affords remarkable views onto Mount Bradley, Lyttelton Harbour and the Southern Alps. It is the perfect spot for our picnic lunch. The afternoon hike gives us one awesome view after another as we slowly descend towards towards Diamond Harbour. The track meanders through the historic Orton Bradley reserve to finish at the old homestead, which is now conveniently a sweet little café and bar. After a refreshing drink, the van picks us up and drives us into Christchurch where we stay in a lovely, centrally located boutique hotel. This evening is a free-night dinner so you are free to choose from any number of dining options, from Michelin star quality fare at the 5th Street Bistro to sampling various street food style vendors in the new Riverside Market area. You might even want to take in some live music at “Fat Eddies” or at “The Little Fiddle” Irish pub, all within walking distance of the hotel. (If you only have five nights for your holiday, you can end the tour in Christchurch and we will adjust the price accordingly.)
Logistics: Drive time: 1 hr to trailhead. 40 minutes to Christchurch. Walking distances: 16 km (10 mi) About 5.5 to 6 hours. Overnight, breakfast and picnic lunch included. Dinner not included.
We leave Christchurch and head south and west, towards the mountains. We have a mid-morning flat white break at the Staveley Store, established in 1876, before continuing to the start of the track. You have the choice between two routes to get to Woolshed Creek hut; the challenging “Rhyolite Ridge” track or the gentler “Miner’s Track”. Both offer up glorious views and lots of variety. From Woolshed creek, we’ll all experience the impressive swing bridge over the gorge (not necessary for those who don’t like heights) to get to the stunning waterfall a short distance from the hut. After lunch in the hut or on a nearby sunny face, we all descend the Miner’s track. As you can imagine from the name, we see vestiges of the coal mining that was undertaken here from 1929 to 1968. The track follows the old tramway that was used to transport the coal down to the valley. Along the way you will be serenaded by a choir of Bellbirds as you descend through native beech forest. At the end of the hike, a short drive takes us to Staveley Heights B&B, our home away from home for the next two nights. Located just beneath Mount Somers, the B&B features large, comfortable bedrooms with spacious ensuite bathrooms. While you’re enjoying a cool drink and soaking up the views, hosts Steve and Sharon prepare a wonderful home-cooked meal for us.
Logistics: Drive time: 2 hours to trailhead. 15 minutes to accommodation. Walking distances: 11 or 12 km. Overnight, breakfast, picnic lunch, and dinner included.
Steve and Sharon treat us to a full-cooked breakfast and then we set off for glorious Lake Heron. Today’s walk takes us along the western edge of the lake before cutting due west up the flats of the braided Cameron River. We climb out of the valley and onto Arrowsmith Station where we have permission to walk. To the west we see the craggy peaks of Mount Arrowsmith, while the view east is of Lake Heron backed up by the peaks of the Taylor and Somers ranges. This view is especially exquisite when a fresh snow fall has dusted the mountains in the early spring and late fall seasons. Hardy hikers can take an optional hike to the elbow lookout for an unforgettable vista of the craggy peaks at the headwaters of the Ashburton and Cameron river. Another wonderful dinner prepared by our hosts awaits our return. This is a memorable last day during an unforgettable week.
Logistics: Drive time: 40 minutes to trailhead. 40 minutes return. Walking distances: 12 or 18 km. Overnight, breakfast, picnic lunch, and dinner included.
After another excellent breakfast we depart for Christchurch. We drop you at the airport, which is a 2-hour drive from Staveley, or back at Sumner, if you arrived by car. Please do not schedule any flight departures before noon on this day.
The hikes are along well established trails with good footing. The paths are sometimes uneven, with tree roots or rocks, and therefore attention is required to ensure that you maintain your footing. We have designed the trip so that there is always some free time in the late afternoon so you can relax, read, go the beach, etc. Daily distances are between 10 and 16 km. Please see more detailed information listed on the ACTIVITY LEVEL page.
Activity Level 3+ = Moderate Plus:
We rate all our tours on a scale of 1 to 5 in terms of the physical difficulty of the hikes. Activity level 1 is easiest, and activity level 5 is the most difficult. This tour is rated: Activity Level 3+ = Moderate Plus:
In general: This is a moderate tour for fit hikers who will find the walks a satisfying workout, while less-fit hikers will find them challenging but do-able and have a great sense of achievement at the end of the trip.
Terrain: Rolling to hilly terrain with frequent steep ascents and descents. The "+" indicates that they also involve more rugged, rocky, or steep terrain than the standard 3-rated tours.
Actual walking time: Between 3 - 6 hours per day
Distances: Usually 8 - 16 km (5 - 9 mi) per day. Max distance 18 km (11 mi).
Surfaces: Trails are a mix of compact earth or dirt track, gravel roads, and rocky, uneven trails.
Footing: Good, but you have to pay attention to where and how you place your feet. Proper hiking shoes/boots with thick soles and good treads are required. Sport sandals, running shoes and tennis shoes are not adequate.
This tour specifically. We start off with easy hikes for the first three days. The terrain is gentle and there are no sustained climbs. These hikes would be classified as Activity level 2. The last three hikes are more demanding and correspond to Activity Level 3 + as described above.
Hiking Poles: Highly recommended but not required. If you usually hike using poles you will regret it if you don’t have them.
Perspective and our impression: Our most common comment about 3+ hikes is “More challenging than I expected but I am glad I did it.” This tour is appropriate for “sporty and fit” first-time “hikers” who enjoy walking and have good balance. People with hip and knee issues might find a 3+ tour challenging because of the terrain and the duration of the hikes.
Moderate Plus Tours: If you have hiked with us in Europe here are some other Moderate Plus Tours that we do as “Customwalks” that might give you some further insight: Amalfi is the easiest of this group, then Dolomites Lite, followed by the Cinque Terre, Sardinia, and Greece Meteora & Zagori.
Getting There: the trip starts with your independent arrival at our pre-booked hotel in Sumner.
Air: you can fly directly into Christchurch from a number of places in New Zealand and Australia. Singapore Airlines and Emirates have intercontinental flights direct to Christchurch whereas most international flights will connect through Auckland.
Getting Away at the End of the Trip: the trip ends after breakfast on Sunday with a 2 hour van shuttle to Christchurch airport with arrival scheduled for 11:00 am. We will also transfer people back to the first hotel in Sumber for those who have left their car there.
If you book a trip with us you will receive detailed information about how to get to the start of your trip, or e-mail us with any specific travel questions.
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