Te Ara Pātaka (Summit Walkway) formal opening and Harry Ell Centenary

On Saturday 26 November over a hundred people, including Peninsula historian Gordon Ogilvie,  braved strong nor’west winds ascending Mt Herbert, the highest point on Banks Peninsula, to celebrate the opening of Te Ara Pātaka, a 35km long tramping track linking the Lyttelton and Akaroa craters. “The track represents several years of successful partnership between Department of Conservation and Rod Donald Banks Peninsula Trust”, says Andy Roberts, the Department’s manager for the Eastern south island. “Work has included upgrading, signposting and waymarking a network of existing farm and bush tracks into a cohesive and easy to follow route”.

  

The above photos show (top) At this stage a gentle ambling track and (bottom) Andy Thompson, Mahaanui Area Office manager and champion for Te Ara Pataka within DOC.

The event also served as a centenary for Christchurch’s visionary MP Harry Ell. Among the walkers were several Ell descendants, including his great granddaughter, plant scientist Paula Jameson.  “Ell was instrumental in pushing the Scenery Preservation Act through parliament,” says Paula, “enabling precious remnants of native forest to be protected.  When the road he used to access Kennedy’s bush was threatened with closure, he developed an interest in public access and this grew into his grand vision of a recreational route connecting Christchurch to Akaroa via the spectacular crater rims and long high ridges of Banks Peninsula. He envisioned rest houses along the way, and building work on the Sign of the Packhorse Hut, then known as Kaituna rest house commenced in 1916.  The opening of Te Ara Pātaka has brought my great grandfather’s vision to fruition 100 years later.”

Hurrah! Te Ara Pataka (Summit Walkway) is officially open. Signposted from Gebbies Pass to Hilltop., with lots of track improvements along the way too.

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