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 and download the Te Ara Pātaka Brochure

Te Ara Pātaka formally opened on 26 November 2016, combined with a centenary for Harry Ell.

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 rest house (now an overnight hut) from stone. 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 had existed in an ad hoc fashion without cohesive management. Hence parts had fallen 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.  The Trust has since taken a lead role in organising track upgrades, signage, way marking, providing the Rod Donald Hut for a second night of accommodation and most significantly – securing public access across the private land sections.

Originally known as the Summit Walkway, or Double Fenceline, the name Te Ara Pātaka, was selected by the four Banks Peninsula rūnanga (Ōnuku, Wairewa, Koukourārata, Ngāti Wheke). It 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.


Our principal partner is Department of Conservation. Additional partners include: Christchurch City Council who own the underlying unformed legal roads and manage parts of the tracks, Orton Bradley Park, who manage two connecting tracks, many private landowners who allow access across their properties and our Peninsula rūnanga who have named the track.

Achievements to Date

April 2022 – Monument Track Maintenance, with new track markers, sign guards and ‘cattle scratchers’ being installed.

November 2019 – The Trust supported ‘Youthtown‘ as they participated in a 3 day tramp from Gebbies Pass to Hilltop as part of the Banks Peninsula Walking Festival – view the Vlog of their journey.

June 2019 – Further improvements to the track in Montgomery Reserve are completed. We worked together with Department of Conservation to spread shingle on slippery parts of the track.

April 2019 – Presentation about Te Ara Pātaka to international Sustainable Trails conference.

January 2019 – The Trust takes responsibility for maintenance of the Monument North, Monument South, and Mt Herbert Walkway track (from Orton Bradley Park to Te Ara Pataka).

January 2019 – Access secured on a private land crossing on the southern flank of Mt Bradley. The Trust has purchased 21ha which now become part of the adjoining DOC Sign of the Packhorse Scenic Reserve including 700m of the main Te Ara Pataka track formerly across private land.

December 2017 – The Trust announces that it has successfully secured 7.5ha of land north of Montgomery Reserve securing access across private land and bringing a lovely totara remnant and area of regenerating land into the Montgomery Reserve.

June 2017 – Track to the north of Montgomery Reserve is re-routed through a beautiful new totara forest.

December 2016 – The entrance to Montgomery Reserve is shifted enabling the public leaving cars at the Hilltop Tavern carpark, to cross the Tavern paddock and then safely cross the Summit Road to enter Montgomery Reserve.

November 2016 – Te Ara Pataka formally opens, the brochure jointly developed by the Trust and DOC is released.

June 2016 – Work commences on installing new DOC signage on the Te Ara Pātaka route, with the Trust providing a signage plan, engaging the contractors and funding many of the signs.

May 2016 – Work commences to install track markers along the entire main track, build a mountain bike gate at Mt Fitzgerald and improve the walking track, cut a viewing track into Montgomery Reserve.

March 2016 – Name Te Ara Pātaka chosen by the four runanga.

October 2015 – Work to improve the track in Montgomery Reserve commences – the rock staircase is built by local contractors Bruce King and Steffan Kraberger.

October 2015 – Rod Donald Hut opens for public use.

May 2015 – LEAP Research paper “Canterbury Youth and Outdoor Recreation: An investigation of youth group leaders’ perspectives on recreation opportunities on Banks Peninsula” released. The research was funded by the Trust and carried out by Lincoln student Jessica Hughes Hutton, supervised by Stephen Espiner and Emma J. Stewart.

May 2014 – LEAP Research paper “Existing and potential use and perceptions of the “Spine of the Lizard” walking routes: An investigation into the Banks Peninsula summit walkway and associated feeder tracks” released. The research was funded by the Trust and carried out by Lincoln student Phil Holland, supervised by Stephen Espiner and Emma J. Stewart.

December 2013 – Work commences to clear and re-open the main track on the south side of Mt Bradley and on the northern side of Mt Bradley.

June 2013 – Trust and DOC sign MOU for the “Spine of the Lizard” Project recognising their shared interest in developing recreational walking and cycling on Banks Peninsula and proposing to work together to improve the main spine route running along the central ridge of the Peninsula from Gebbies Pass to Hilltop and several feeder tracks that link to it.

Crossing The Plateau

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

Phillip King and Gordon Ogilvie at the Opening