A year in review – 2013 highlights


On behalf of the Rod Donald Banks Peninsula Trust I would like to wish you a happy New Year and hope that as part of your summer break you have been able to enjoy some relaxation on beautiful Banks Peninsula.

The Trust has a vision of the Peninsula as a place known as an ecological island with a rich biodiversity, local people passionately participating in conservation and appreciative recreation. Over the past year our Trust has made great strides towards assisting with this vision, clarifying its intentions through strategic planning, forming partnerships with key organisations, meeting with community groups and working on a wide range of practical and much needed projects. It is my pleasure to get to know and better understand the highly active communities of Banks Peninsula in my role as the chair of this Trust, to work with my dedicated Trustees and now to share some of our the achievements and highlights of the past year with you. I look forward to meeting with many of you and supporting your projects in the coming year.


The Rod Donald Trust has been managed by a group of seven voluntary Trustees since its inception. “I’ve been delighted with the breadth of knowledge my fellow Trustees bring to the Board discussions and their dedication,” says Garry Moore.

“The newly elected councilor for the Peninsula, Andrew Turner, has just been appointed to our Board by the Council and it is my pleasure to welcome him aboard”.


The Trustees started 2013 with a Strategic Planning held at The Gables in Wainui, where the peaceful atmosphere, delicious food and able facilitation of Di Lucas enabled us to make huge progress in establishing how to progress the Trust’s vision. Key decisions were that the organisation would be project lead and that projects would be underpinned by four pillars – Access, Knowledge, Partnership and Biodiversity. These aspirations were then worked into the Statement of Intent for the financial year commencing in July 2013 and presented to the Christchurch City Council for acceptance, along with KPIs to assess its performance.


The Trust’s website was launched in April 2013 and provides information on the Trust’s vision and management, as well as a reference library of its statutory and other documents and a news feed on projects in progress and various Peninsula happenings.


The Rod Donald Banks Peninsula Trust was delighted to develop a Memorandum of Understanding with the Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust in the latter part of 2012 to assist this key organisation in continuing its work to support the biodiversity of the area coordinating efforts amongst private landowners and central and local government agencies. The Stocktake report undertaken earlier by the Trust had identified just how key the work of the Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust had become to biodiversity and the huge respect this organisation commands.  Read more about this partnership in our projects section.

Then in June 2013 Orton Bradley Park entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Rod Donald Banks Peninsula Trust that will see the two organisations collaborate on recreation opportunities. A shared vision to create a financially and environmentally sustainable farm- park with multiple recreational opportunities drives the MOU. One of the first steps is to get a better understanding of the current and potential recreational use of Orton Bradley Park. This research will be carried out by a Lincoln University student over the 2013-14 summer. Read more about this partnership

The Trust is also working with the Department of Conservation to investigate the possibility of improving and upgrading the Summit Walkway from Gebbies Pass to Hilltop into a wonderful introductory tramping opportunity for local people of all ages. Read more about this partnership or read the news article about this project.

“That really fits in with our kaupapa”, says Garry Moore, “Harry Ell is one of our four pou whenua, as I like to call them and his dream was a recreational ridge-line route linking Christchurch to Akaroa”.

The trust were excited to hear that the Department plans to do earthquake strengthening work to the Sign of the Packhorse Hut. This historic hut is a great destination for families having their first back-country hut experience.


Last year the Trust worked in partnership with Nature Heritage Fund and the Josef Langer Trust to secure Saddle Hill/ Puaitahi as a scenic reserve, and the purchase was completed just before Christmas 2012. The reserve straddles the ridge between Akaroa harbour and Reynolds Valley, includes the popular rock climbing spot known as Coffin Rock and a solid shed that offers potential as a tramping hut or shelter. It contains one of the peninsula’s best remaining examples of narrow-leaved snow tussock grasslands, as well as remnants of old growth podocarp forest, will be managed by the Department of Conservation.

“Saddle Hill is only an hour’s drive from the central city, making it the perfect escape for Cantabrians to blow off the cobwebs and stresses of daily city life,” said Trust Chair Gary Moore.

“Saddle Hill offers breath-taking views in every direction, over Akaroa harbour, Te Roto o Wairewa, Te Waihora, the ocean and the alps. I hope many locals take advantage to experience it for themselves this summer – although I’m not too keen on that name Coffin Rock!

A most satisfying walk is from the sheep yards on Bossu Road to the Trig station at the summit. This is not signposted or tracked yet, but the new Akaroa Harbour and Bays brochure to be released by the Trust in February (see mapping article) will detail an easy route up using old farm tracks.


Another very exciting project completed this year was the publication of Hugh Wilson’s definitive reference book “Plant Life on Banks Peninsula”. Pre-publication book sales were so successful that the book’s launch ceremony held in October 2013 had to be moved from Little River Gallery to the Rugby club down the road to cater for all the attendees.

Read more in our projects section