The 2015 Banks Peninsula Walking Festival

November has come and gone and with it the annual Banks Peninsula Walking Festival, which is coordinated by Project Lyttelton. 39 opportunities were on offer for walkers to get out and discover the beautiful Banks Peninsula environment over the 4 weekends of November. The walks ranged from “urban” strolls around the historic port town of Lyttelton, to an exploration of areas of significance to tangata whenua, to whole day walks along the “wildside” of Banks Peninsula, to an overnight tramp to the newly refurbished historic Packhorse Hut aimed at young families.

The Rod Donald Banks Peninsula Trust was delighted to be involved with funding and supporting the Walking Festival again, which gave us the opportunity to showcase a number of our projects. The official opening of the Rod Donald Hut on 7th November was the first event of the festival and this was followed up with opportunities for members of the public to walk to the hut from the Port Levy Saddle and have lunch there, accompanied by the Rod Donald Trust’s manager Suky Thompson.

Dr Sam Hampton from the University of Canterbury led a walk from Okains Bay, through Kawatea (Little Okains Bay) and to Pa Bay to introduce the concept of the GeoPark. A GeoPark is an area with many features of historical, geological, ecological, archeological and cultural significance. The Rod Donald Banks Peninsula Trust is exploring ways in which to support this project and this walk was a fantastic opportunity to hear more about the aims of this aspirational project.

Robin Burleigh ran “Grunts and Dykes”, a chance to explore the Langer Trust’s Panama Reserve, in which Rod Donald Trust also has an interest. Having conquered the up-hill “grunt” track, walkers were treated to beautiful views from the top of the Panama Rock dome (one of geologist Sam Hampton’s favourite spots on Banks Peninsula) before heading down the steep track beside the lava dyke that originally fed the dome. Lunch at Langer Lodge gave a chance for a well-earned rest and time to admire the magnificent dyke formation from below.

Tina Troup’s walk to Mount Sinclair gave walkers a taste of the Summit Walkway route that links the Hilltop to the Rod Donald Hut and passes through remnant high altitude bush and fallen Tōtara trees, sculpted by the wind.


Hugh Wilson worsley house site jasmine

A touch of damp weather did nothing to deter spirits Purple Peak Curry Reserve preview with all botanists present pleased to see the bush getting some much needed respite. The reserve was recently purchased jointly by the Rod Donald Banks Peninsula Trust and the Native Forest Restoration Trust. The walk was led by Hugh Wilson from Hinewai and more than 40 people signed up for the walk. This reserve will be officially opened in February 2016 and will be managed by the magnificent team from Hinewai. The walk tested out a new track through the reserve that leads to Antarctic hero Frank Worsley’s childhood home.

kids piled on group starting pack horse trek shelter packhorse walk up the hill

The beloved Packhorse Hut, situated between Gebbies Pass and Te Ahu Pātiki/Mt Herbert on the Summit Walkway, turns 100 in 2016. DOC have done a great job of refurbishing this beautiful stone hut as attested by the 4 Lyttelton Harbour families who went on “My first overnight tramp” led by Rod Donald Banks Peninsula Trust assistant manager Sarah Pritchett, her husband Phil Swallow and their two children Otis and Louis. The other 6 children on the tramp, ranging in age from 7 to 9 and accompanied by their parents, were on their first overnight tramp and enjoyed walking uphill from Kaituna for an, at times, challenging-for-little-legs walk through bush and open farmland. Playing around the hut proved to be one of the highlights of the experience for the children with plenty of rocky outcrops to explore and the empty shells of little blue starling eggs to find. The protected Parkinson’s bush reserve provided a great spot for botanising with beautiful mature mātai trees spotted amongst the horopito, mānuka, lancewood and kōwhai. Toasting marshmallows on the potbelly stove also proved popular, once dinner had been eaten and dishes done. The next morning a strong southerly blew the group briskly in the direction of Orton Bradley Park. There is no doubt that this overnight tramp was the first of many these young children will embark on in their backyard of the Banks Peninsula.