Port Hills and Banks Peninsula Write a review
Designed for Kiwis and Aussies too!
This tour is designed for people who want to enjoy a fabulous short week of hiking along splendid Banks Peninsula without having to rough it in rustic lodging at night. We also use our van to get you up to the trail head so you hike the best stretches of the high ridge tracks that provide the biggest, most spectacular views. The van lifts come in handy to avoid not only the super-steep uphills, but also the knee-wrecking descents.
This is All Gain, and No Pain hiking! Low stress too, as we look after all the logistics and you just simply follow your wonderful guide. At the end of the day, check into your 4-star accommodation (no shared facilities on our tours) and relax before an excellent meal with your hiking companions. Take a break, relax, and truly enjoy.
Port Hills and Banks Peninsula 5 night Tour Includes:
Port Hills and Banks Peninsula 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 The Beach restaurant, literally on Sumner beach.
Logistics: Overnight 4-star Sumner Bay motel. Walking distance/Optional hike: 6 km Taylors Mistake and 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 Clink restaurant for 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 are regenerating, as you will appreciate your hike through the dense, lush regrowth. We leave the coolness of forest, streams and waterfalls to come out onto a high ridge. 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 that 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 bring 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 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 we treat you to Francesca’s Kitchen for some delicious Mediterranean cuisine. Afterwards, 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.
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, picnic lunch and dinner included.
That’s it. Go home! Since your guide will usually be continuing on with the rest of the group to Staveley and the alpine lakes of the Hakatere conservation area, we do not offer a transfer to the airport or to Sumner, if you need to collect your car. You are free to take a taxi at a time of your choosing.
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 two 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 Friday. You are free to take a taxi to the airport or the Sumner hotel to collect your car.
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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