Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Banks Peninsula Track 28-30 March

We drove over to Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula, parked the car and waited outside the old Post Office for the lift taking us to Onuku Hut for our first night. As we waited other rucksack laden people joined us and we met Annabel and Eleanor who were to be our fellow 2-day hikers as opposed to the larger group of 4-day hikers. The bus journey took us to the SE of Akaroa around a bit of the coast we'd not seen before, past an early Maori settlement. The hut itself was good, one for 2-dayers and one for 4-dayers. Better equipped than the DOC huts and with a beautiful garden of native trees.

Saturday morning and just about to set off on the first day's hike

Just a few feet along the path, these 2 lovely little pigs came hurtling out from a hedge, desperate to make friends with us, following us till we got the main track
It was a very calm, misty morning, and the track rose pretty steeply up towards the highest point on the crater rim

Looking back the way we'd come, it appeared that the cloud was creeping up towards us. The track was clearly marked all the way, Akaroa Harbour still visible below us, and we soon came to the top where we stopped for a rest

Of course having reached the highest point there was nowhere else to go but down and we soon found ourselves walking through lush, damp bush, very green with loads of tree ferns
Quite hard work going down and down with loads of streams to cross . . .
. . . and a number of waterfalls
One of many Hugh Wilson lovely signs on the track

Eventually, after walking about 4 hours, we made it to our lunch stop at Flea Bay Cottage.

It was a very cute place and we made full use of the facilities. There was a penguin burrow under the outside toilet

For the next two hours we walked around the coast, a fabulous track

Down at Seal Cove we came across a little shelter that had been built into the rock

It had rather lovely little stained glass windows

The track continues up and down, up and down around the coast, hugging the cliff edges

At last our destination came into view: Stony Bay Cottages. It had been a long days walk

It was certainly stony and there were seals lolling around

It was quite exotic, very green and lush, a family lives and farms here though its very remote, no road in or out that we could see

Stony Bay huts were gorgeous and quirky. Tis fantastic shack, built onto the side of a dead tree was the wash room and shower. There was hot water too (unlike the DOC huts)
This is one of the toilet doors

Out door pool. The 4 day hikers hut is behind Mike, ours was just out the picture on the right. We had a big fire which we kept going throughout the evening. Our hut also had a lovely wood burning stove, but there was no electricity so we had a candle lit dinner

Mike relaxing in the outdoor bath. He built a fire underneath it and it took a while to get hot enough. Eileen and Annabel got the best of it later on

Eileen and Annabel our fellow 2-dayers in front of the wash room

Ready to set off on Sunday morning

Another calm misty morning, sun just breaking through as we set off, uphill of course

Beautiful morning, sea like glass. We later learnt that the column of cliff had been an arch joined to the headland until the 2010 earthquake

Loads of seals on this rocky beach. It was around  this point that my knees began to fail me and I started using Mike's stick as well as my own

As we rounded the headland a large field of sheep came into view against the skyline

The track led us right up the middle of the field through the sheep who parted either side of us

Then our lunch spot came into view, Otanerito Bay. We knew the beach because we'd walked here down from the crater rim with Bill and Laureen at Christmas. The hills behind the beach lead up through the Hinewai Reserve, which is managed by Hugh Wilson

Mike braved the sea but it was very cold

Gate leading to the pretty hut, where we met up with A&E again and drank tea. We knew the rest of the walk as we'd done it before the other way round.
Coming out of Otanerito Hut ready for the long haul up and over the crater rim back down into Akaroa

Approaching Purple Peak Saddle, the highest point . . .

. . . and over the other side. My knees were fine going uphill but terrible going down so it took us rather a long time to get back down to Akaroa at sea level

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