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Te Ara Pātaka, Banks Peninsula

Arriving at the windswept summit of Mt Herbert. Photo: Anna Pearson
Banks Peninsula
Total Ascent
Packhorse Hut ($15, nine bunks; Rod Donald Hut, $15, nine bunks)
Gebbies Pass, on Gebbies Pass Rd
BX24, BX25
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Te Ara Pātaka.Banks Peninsula (gpx, yo 79 KB)
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Formerly known as the Summit Walkway, Te Ara Pātaka follows a ridgeline from the Lyttelton crater to the Akaroa crater, over Mt Herbert – the highest point on the peninsula at 919m.

It’s a reasonably easy two day track that can also be done in three.

From Gebbies Pass, it takes a couple of hours through pine forest and open country to get to Packhorse Hut, an old stone building with a bright red roof and window frames.

Sidle around Mt Bradley to reach Mt Herbert Shelter then continue to the summit of Mt Herbert for excellent 360-degree views. The grassy ridgeline below Mt Herbert, towards Port Levy Saddle, can look like white gold, offering views towards Mt Evans, Lyttelton Harbour, Godley Head and Pegasus Bay, with the Kaikoura Ranges in the distance.

Soon, you reach a large totara graveyard. Early European settlers felled these once-majestic trees for timber and burnt them, or let them waste to make way for pasture. Some trunks still bear charcoal stains.

At Port Levy Saddle, the track crosses a road and soon dips down to Rod Donald Hut. Slog back up to the ridgeline through a path cut through thick gorse and cruise around the side of Mt Fitzgerald to Mt Sinclair Scenic Reserve.

From there it’s up and over Mt Sinclair and through daisy meadows with views of Lake Forsyth to Montgomery Park Scenic Reserve, in sight of Akaroa Harbour.

On the way down to the Hilltop Tavern you’ll pass a giant totara standing tall, perhaps like its friends had they been left to grow.

NOTE: The track is closed for lambing from August 8 to October 15. Return walks to Packhorse Hut via Kaituna Valley Rd and Rod Donald Hut via Port Levy Saddle are possible year around. Mountain biking is allowed on some sections.