Te Ara Pātaka

Te Ara Pātaka, also known as the Summit Walkway, is a 2½ day tramping track linking the Lyttelton and Akaroa craters along the spectacular summit ridgeline of Banks Peninsula. Developing this ridgeline tramp and a network of tracks leading to it from valleys below has been a flagship project for the Trust, working in partnership with the Department of Conservation. For more information on walking the track or to book overnight accommodation in the huts en route, visit the Department of Conservation website.

Formal Opening
Te Ara Pataka formally opened on 26 November, 2016, combined with a centenary for Harry Ell. Despite strong norwest winds, a hundred people climbed Mt Herbert from 6 different directions assembling at the Mt Herbert shelter to celebrate the opening. Keynote speaker Paul Jameson, Harry Ell’s great-granddaughter, described her ancestors vision of a recreational route connecting the Lyttelton and Akaroa craters via the high and scenic ridgelines of Banks Peninsula, the commencement of building the Sign of the Packhorse in 1916, and the work of her father, John Jameson, in founding the Summit Road Society. Other speakers included the current owner of Mt Herbert, Philip King, who kindly allows the public to walk across his land on a variety of tracks linking to Te Ara Pataka, Andy Roberts and Andy Thompson from Department of Conservation, and Andrew Turner, Christchurch Deputy Mayor as well as a trustee of the Rod Donald Trust.

The idea of a recreational route along the crater rims and summit ridgeline, following old pioneer and Māori trails, was originally the brainchild of early Christchurch conservationist and MP Harry Ell back in the early 1900’s. Ell got his “Summit Road” as far as the western flank of Mt. Bradley where he constructed the beautiful Sign of the Packhorse resthouse (now an overnight hut) from stone, before turning the rest of his life’s efforts to the Sign of the Takahe, a much large stone building at the start of his route in Cashmere above Christchurch.  Since then many others have worked on his vision, including creating various tracks linking to the Summit Walkway, including Cora Wilding, founder of the Youth Hostel association in the 1930s, and two brothers Colin and Ben Faulkner who developed their passion for walking under her leadership. The tracks cross a mix of land under different ownership – unformed legal roads, public conservation land and private land, and for many years have existed in an ad hoc fashion without cohesive management. Hence parts fell into disuse, became overgrown with gorse, and always lacked a second hut to provide the overnight accommodation needed for trampers to walk right through.

In 2013, the Trust and Department of Conservation realised that they had a shared interest in developing these tracks into a cohesive network, acting as a gateway destination close to the city introducing novices, particularly young people and families, to the joys of tramping and the Peninsula environment. Shortly after signing a Memorandum of Understanding to this effect, the project took the wind in its sails when the Trust managed to purchase a property ideally located high above Little River and containing a small bach, which it then converted into the second hut, now known as Rod Donald Hut. Since then the Trust and DOC have worked together to upgrade the tracks and install waymarkers and signage along the route. Te Ara Pātaka was formally opened in combination with a centenary celebration for Harry Ell on November 26, 2016.

The name Te Ara Pātaka, selected by the four Banks Peninsula rūnanga (Ōnuku, Wairewa, Koukourārata, Ngāti Wheke) refers to the Māori name for Banks Peninsula – Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū (the food basket of Rākaihautū). Rākaihautū was an important ancestor of Waitaha (the first iwi to settle in Canterbury) and captain of the Waitaha waka the Uruao. The name Te Ara Pātaka acknowledges the mana whenua’s tūpuna (ancestors) and deep connection to their history and landscape.

For more Information on Te Ara Pātaka see the Te Ara Pātaka Brochure.



Opening keynote address - Paula Jameson

Crossing The Plateau

Cynthia Roberts, Rod Donald Trustee and recently elected to Ecan, on the western flank of Mt Herbert heading to the shelter

Phillip King and Gordon Ogilvie at the Opening

10 trampers and 3 staff from Youthtown walk from the Hilltop to the Rod Donald Hut, then the next day out to Diamond Harbour

An ancient Tōtara tree in Montgomery Reserve receives a hug from a Youthtown walker on an overnight tramp to the Rod Donald Hut

Youthtown trampers enjoying the view over Lyttelton Harbour

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