Introductory to Moderate

Traveller Rating


  • self guided walk
  • 3 nights farm cottage, 1 night motel
  • 4 Dinners
  • 4 Breakfasts


5 daysfrom


Trip Code: GBT

Trip highlights

  • Traverse unique and beautiful volcanic landscapes, most of which are not open to the general public
  • Witness native vegetation and wildlife regeneration projects in action
  • Visit the largest Australasian Little Penguin colony on mainland New Zealand (Oct to Dec inclusive)
  • Watch New Zealand Fur Seals play in their natural habitat
  • Learn about hardy folk who have contributed to human history in the area
  • Explore the quaint historical French settlement of Akaroa

Away from the crowds, walk at your own pace while soaking in dramatic natural landscapes and coastal panoramas, also observing native wildlife at opportune locations along the way. Part of the eroded crater of an ancient volcano, as well as being home to the historically French settlement of Akaroa, Banks Peninsula is mostly open farmland with pockets of regenerating native forest. Journeying beyond Akaroa where few travellers have access, the majority of this walk lies within the 13,500 hectare "Wildside Project" which is a cooperation between private landowners and several government organisations aimed at protecting and restoring unique ecosystems in the region. Traversing moderately steep farmland and exploring the peaceful Hinewai Reserve, staying each night in comfortable, well-equipped farm dwellings, you gain an appreciation for the diversity of flora, fauna and landscapes of this usually inaccessible region. While they generally remain discrete, a chance meeting with one or two of the local landowners, some of whom are descendants of early European pioneers, is a delightful experience.


Make your own way to Akaroa, a charming little town nestled inside the harbour of Banks Peninsula. Of French and British origins the architecture, lovely gardens, street names and many eateries still reflect this heritage. You may like to arrive early and spend the day soaking up the ambience, wandering the shoreline, sampling some of the many gastronomic treats or joining one of the water-based activities such as whale or dolphin watching. Meet outside the Old Post Office in Akaroa, 80 Rue Lavaud (on the corner of Rue Lavaud and Rue Balaguerie, opposite the BNZ bank) at 5:30pm with your luggage and car already parked (if self-driving). Here you will meet a representative from our local partner and anyone else starting the hike today. There will be a short trip briefing before being transferred by bus to the first night's trip accommodation at Onuku Farm, at the trailhead of the Banks Track.

Meals:  D

Commence the Banks Track (also called the Banks Peninsula Track) from the front gate of your accommodation at Onuku Farm. You will walk steadily upwards through open farmland with magnificent views across the Akaroa Harbour. There are some short side trips to alternative view points if you have extra energy before reaching Trig GG, the highest point on the track at 699m, with a 360 degree panorama of the peninsula and beyond. On a clear day, it is possible to glimpse Aoraki Mt Cook (New Zealand's highest mountain, 3724m) in the distant Southern Alps. Descending the extinct volcanic crater rim from Trig GG on the way to sea level, you will pass through lush forest with magnificent old-growth red beech trees in the Tutakakahikura Reserve. Then take a few moments to visit a waterfall or two before reaching Flea Bay (Pohatu). The bay itself is a marine reserve supporting seals, dolphins, seabirds, fish and among other marine life, the largest Australasian Little Penguin colony on mainland New Zealand. Check the noticeboard inside the Flea Bay Cottage, where you stay tonight, for the timing of a complimentary guided penguin tour in the evening. This is available during the breeding season (October to December) and nests must not be visited unaccompanied. Moulting penguins can also be viewed in January and February but there are no tours after that as there are no penguins coming ashore. They spend most of their life at sea.

Meals:  B,D

Leaving the penguin colony, the track today is mostly open grazing land and winds its way along the tops of the rugged, craggy headlands of south eastern Banks Peninsula. It is the shortest walking day in distance but take your time to absorb spectacular views of sea cliffs, Flea Bay and the vast South Pacific Ocean disappearing over the horizon. Sit and contemplate at the halfway mark near Redcliffe Point, spend some time watching fur seals play at Seal Cave or you may be lucky enough to spot some dolphins offshore. Drop down into Stony Bay (Opatuti) where you pass by the landowner's homestead to find your accommodation for tonight. The Stony Bay cottages are set in lovely gardens and are full of character. You might like to enjoy an open air bath or browse the tiny museum where a collection of historical family artefacts reflects five generations of life in the bay. OPTION: It is possible to do a 1 - 1.5hr guided sea kayak excursion in the Pohatu Marine Reserve, exploring the shoreline of Flea Bay, to observe marine wildlife such as seals, penguins, dolphins and sea birds. It is an early morning excursion prior to walking to Stony Bay. This MUST be pre-booked, additional cost applies and the activity is undertaken at your own risk. Please ask for details.

Meals:  B,D

There is a steep ascent for the first half of today's walk as you climb approximately 700m from sea level up the flanks of the Peninsula's ancient volcanic crater. Passing through what is now some of Hinewai Reserve, you are following a similar route to both the first horse track (constructed in 1880's) and the first phone line (established 1914) between Stony Bay and Akaroa. Hinewai Reserve has been a working project to protect and restore native vegetation and wildlife since 1987. As far as possible introduced mammals and fire are excluded. Regeneration takes time but as you pass through beautiful forest including tree ferns, beech, podocarps, mixed hardwoods and kanuka the long term success of native trees taking over from exotic species such as gorse and broom is clearly evident. Emerging from the forest the track reaches the crater rim. There is an optional side track to Stony Bay Peak (806m) before the trail drops down to sea level in Akaroa, once again affording fabulous views of the harbour. Enjoy a celebratory meal this evening at one of the many restaurants and cafes in Akaroa after checking into your trip accommodation.

Meals:  B,D

Trip arrangements conclude this morning. Check-out time is 10:00am. You may like to linger in Akaroa and explore a bit if you did not have opportunity to do so before the trip. Your hotel will be able to assist with suggestions and bookings if required.

Meals:  B



The map and elevation chart are for illustrative purposes only and meant to provide general guidelines.
On self guided trips, actual route information provided before departure will be more detailed.


  • 3 nights accommodation in farmstyle cottages based on multishare bunk rooms (3 - 4 bunks per room) with shared bathrooms
  • Bunk mattress with bottom sheet, pillow and pillow case for 3 nights
  • Sleeping Bag hire
  • 1 night motel or guesthouse in Akaroa (twinshare) with private bathroom
  • 3 Breakfasts and 3 Dinners (Radix Nutrition meals)
  • Fully equipped kitchens in farmstyle cottages (Nights 1,2,3) including tea towels, dishwash liquid, cutlery, kettle, coffee plunger, pots, crockery, cooking utensils, fridge, gas cook tops, microwave (Nights 1 & 2 only), oven (Nights 1 & 2 only), gas BBQ (Nights 2 & 3 only)
  • Daily luggage transfer - 1 bag/pack, weight limit strictly 15kg
  • Information booklet and route map (one per booking)
  • Transfer from Akaroa meeting point to accommodation at Onuku Farm on Day 1
  • Guided penguin viewing in nesting season (Oct to Dec inclusive)
  • Car parking if self-driving to Akaroa

  • Travel to/from Akaroa
  • Lunches and snacks - there are fully equipped cottage kitchens during the walk, a small farm shop on night 3 and access to cafes/restaurants for the last night in Akaroa
  • Drinks other than water - good drinking water is available at each night's accommodation
  • Towel
  • Optional activities, extras and upgrades
  • Items of a personal nature (eg. laundry, shopping, internet)
  • Excess luggage storage (available for additional cost - please request in advance)
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa (if required)

Trail Surface



Introductory to Moderate  

INTRODUCTORY TO MODERATE - GRADE 4 These trips involve a combination of what is described in our Introductory and Moderate levels. The emphasis is on introductory activity with several moderate stages. These adventures involve walking for up to 6 or 7 hours a day at a steady pace. You will need a good level of fitness and must be in good health. Treks may involve carrying a full pack around 15kg. Be prepared for potential variable weather conditions. Suggested preparation: We recommend 45 minutes of aerobic type exercise three times a week, from a minimum of three months period to your departure. This can include swimming, jogging, hard walking or cycling - good cardiovascular exercise. Hill or stair walking with a 7kg daypack is also highly recommended at least once a week. During the walking stages you will need to carry your daily requirements such as water, lunch, spare clothing and personal items.

Departure dates

Daily from 1 Oct to 30 April


Private room upgrade on the track (3 nights) has limited availability with only two rooms available each night. The rooms have double beds only. The rate is per room and is the same for one or two people (additional cost).
Star gazer rooms are available at Onuku Farm (Night 1) at no extra charge. No bookings are required but rooms are limited and are on first come first served basis. These are basic enclosed sleeping platforms with glass ceiling and are a short walk from amenities and the main buildings.
We recommend minimum 2 people for this trip for safety reasons. However, solo travellers with good hiking experience in changeable weather and good route finding skills will find it achievable.

Want to organise a customised tour?

School groups, friends, family trips, corporate events and even making the trail accessible for everyone. Learn how you can organise a Customised Tour with Great Walks of New Zealand.

Priceper person from


Options & Supplements*
    *Prices listed are per person and also from

Essential Information

Ready to book? Make sure you download and read the detailed Banks Peninsula Self-Guided Walk trip notes which contains all the essential information you need to know before booking. Once you’ve booked, we will supply you with a Pre-Departure document which contains a detailed gear list and other important information to help you prepare for your adventure ahead.

Trip reviews

Why walk with us

Self-Guided Experts

Our itineraries have been carefully designed and researched with you in mind.  The logistics are handled for you allowing you the freedom to walk New Zealand at a level of your choosing and in your own stride.


A core Maori value exercising guardianship in relation to nature, flora and fauna and its people, ensuring that sustainability and environment are valued, respected and protected for future generations to enjoy.

Supporting Local

As a small business ourselves, we love supporting and sharing New Zealand with other small and likeminded businesses and communities to showcase for you, what our land and people have to offer.

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