Banks Peninsula Walking Festival 2014

The second Banks Peninsula Walking Festival expanded on last year’s offerings and extended over four weekends in November. This year’s festival featured local guides leading and interpreting on over 40 walks, with many of them repeated over two or more weekends.

“The Trust is involved with organising the festival and contributing walks featuring its own projects,” explains Suky. “The lead role is taken by Project Lyttelton, as the Banks Peninsula festival has grown out of their Lyttelton Walking festival. Others organisations involved are Akaroa District Promotions, Lyttelton Information Centre, and the Little River/Wairewa Trust. The festival is a real grass roots effort and the walks offered are those that local people in the community volunteer to lead as they have a real passion for them.”

The Trust ran two walks featuring aspects of the Spine of the Lizard project, including a full day loop walk from the Orton Bradley Park and around the south side of Mt Bradley to the summit of Mt. Herbert, and a trip for a preliminary look at the new Rod Donald hut.    There was also a guided tour of Onawe Peninsula and walks on covenanted land such as at Fisherman’s Bay and Flea Bay, as well as old favourites in Hinewai, and around Lyttelton.

“The walk up from Orton Bradley gave us a chance to showcase the work we had done over last year to clear the tracks up from Orton Bradley and around the back of Mt. Bradley – and to check out if the gorse was still off the tracks,” says Suky. “It was also great to gauge people’s responses and get their feedback on where marking was needed”. The group did a little impromptu marking as it went along – and word from subsequent groups is that this was helpful.

“The walk to the new hut could have been sold four times over” said Lucette Hindin from Project Lyttelton, who managed the bookings via the Lyttelton Information Centre. “People were really keen to find out what this was all about”.

The trip to the new hut was co-led by Trustee Bob Webster who, with his botanist wife Carole Jensen, owns the neighbouring property where they are busy protecting old growth forest and encouraging regeneration. Bob started the walk with a little pilgrimage to the site of the old Tom Cundell Hut near the Port Levy Saddle. The quest had been on to identify the site for some time, spurred on by Hugh Wilson’s boyhood memories of stopping here on family tramping holidays, and Bob and Carole had recently discovered the remains tucked in the bush. After paying suitable homage to the historic site, the group went on to see the tōtara graveyard at Waipuna Saddle before dropping down to inspect the new Rod Donald Hut.

“We were also delighted that Ōnuku rūnanga took up our suggestion to lead a walk on the Onawe Peninsula to show their excellent new tracks,” says Suky. “Guide Te One Tainui spoke movingly about the historic events here and did a wonderful job of taking the groups to the summit.

Resting at the totara graveyard near Waipuna Saddle

Walking festival group visit the new hut, just 2kms from the old Tom Cundell hut site

An intrepid group climbs up from Orton Bradley Park

Heading up to the Packhorse Hut on the flank of Mt. Bradley

An unexpected delight was meeting two recent migrants from Iran out exploring. They felt a bit lost behind Mt Bradley but were thrilled to reach the summit of Mt Herbert with the splendid view over Christchurch, their new home

Lunch at Packhorse Hut

A tired group descends to Orton Bradley Park in what turned out to be a very long day!

The former Tom Cundell Hut

Bob Webster talks to the group at the Tom Cundell Hut site