“Getting to know a place on foot connects me” – Francis Mayes
I adore Banks Peninsula! It is jaw-dropping spectacular. A short drive from “flat as a pancake” Christchurch to a volcanic landscape of steep hills and lush bays that feels alive with energy. Below: 1) Taylors Mistake (Loved it!); 2) Diamond Harbour/Lyttelton; 3) Akaroa; and 4) Alpacas.
1) Taylors Mistake – Godley Head Walkway
I look for day-walks of 2 to 6 hours. If you have time for only one, go to Taylors Mistake near Sumner. Two or three days? Use Lyttelton as a jumping off point to Diamond Harbour walks.
I was nearly alone on this cliff walk, but it’s not a secret – it is one of the region’s MOST POPULAR WALKS. One look at the turquoise sea views and vast open space, and you gotta go. You walk through a concoction of blue-gray succulents with salmon-pink blooms against a turquoise sea.
Walk Time: 2 hours (return) to Boulder Beach, or 3-4 hours (return) to Godley Head.
Taylors Battery: Near Godley Head, giant gun emplacements and military buildings remain from weaponry mounted for defense of Lyttelton Harbor during WW2.
Nearby: Crater Rim Walkway from Evans Pass to Godley Head
Less used than Taylors Mistake to Godley Head, the Crater Rim Walkway follows the rim of an extinct volcano with dramatic rocky landscapes. On a clear day you can see across Lyttelton Harbour to Kaikōura.
2) Lyttelton and Diamond Harbour
Lyttelton, 20 minutes from Christchurch, is a small working port town with a hipster/hippie vibe. The strong community supports boutique shops and gourmet eateries.
Catch a ferry from Lyttelton to Diamond Harbour, or drive around the bay. The Diamond Harbour Walkways Brochure is available at Diamond Harbour Eatery, Lyttelton Info Center, or Christchurch DOC.
- 40-minute drive from Christchurch.
- 10-minute ferry ride from Lyttelton to Jetty B at Norwich Quay.
- Link – Diamond Harbour Walks (map – from 30 minutes to half day)
- Link – Banks Peninsulas Walks (link to directory of walks and tramps on the peninsula)
Diamond Harbour – Stoddard Point and Purau Loop
Between the carpark and jetty, are sculptures and the cliff walk (30 minute return to Stoddard Point; 2-3 hours return to Purau)
Driving to Akaroa you zig-zag through steep hills and hairpin curves. That first look of the milky-blue sea and gold grassy hills will knock your socks off and the image is burned into your memory.
Akaroa Historical Walk: A small town and region was NZ’s only French settlement in 1838. It has only two main streets with landmarks that date 1840 – 1900’s. It is the oldest town in Canterbury and one of the most historic places in New Zealand.
Video – Akaroa Busker
4) Hug An Alpaca!
The best! At the Shamarra Alpaca Farm across the harbour from Akaroa. With 160 grazing alpacas, it is a joy to meet and hug a buddy!
What We Missed – A Walkers Paradise
- Akaroa – Nature Cruises – Hector’s Dolphins
- Akaroa – Giants House – gardens, sculptures, B&B
- Sea Kayaking Akaroa Reserve
- Penguin Encounter
- Banks Peninsulas Walks (Link to Resource)
- Port Hills Walks (Between Christchurch and Lyttelton Port – glimpse below)
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