Maori arrived on this ancient weathered volcano with fire and adzes, dogs and rats and soon a third of the forest was gone. Early European settlers quickly cleared the rest of the land of its extensive forest cover, with it went the birds that had for thousands of years lived undisturbed in this paradise.
Thirty years ago times were tough for sheep farmers in New Zealand with droughts, and the loss of farming subsidies. In Akaroa farmers started to consider other income streams, others had started to create conservation areas such as Hinewai.
Some of these interests got together and 25 years ago The Banks Peninsula Track was established as New Zealand’s first private tramp. There are 7 groups of landowners who maintain the track and provide accommodation. All of them have set some of their land aside as nature reserves, the largest Hinewai is 1250 acres.
I am not a walker these days, but we arrange for me to be able to carry the bags in a car, and each day I drive from each remote night stay back to Akaroa and out to the next stay. I am joined by 1-2 other walkers on various days whose legs have failed them. We are referred to as the Latte Ladies, as we stop in Akaroa each day for a coffee, along with the thousands of people visiting each day from the Cruise ships.
My friends are going to walk the 35 kms track over four days, traversing coastal headlands, down to isolated bays where fur seals lazily swim and penguins now breed safely. You can walk it in 2 days, but the longer walk enables a leisurely start to the day as well as being able to enjoy the views and side tracks along the way.
More on our Banks Peninsula Track experience
- Onuku Farm Hostel – the first night
- Flea Bay – Pohatu – The Second Night
- Stony Bay Opatuti – our third night on the Banks Peninsula Track
- Otanerito Bay and Hinewai – it is our last night on the Banks Peninsula Track