NZ’s first private walking track is a true story of innovative spirit and a community banding together. In 1989, a few neighbouring Banks Peninsula farming families, together with the newly founded Hinewai Native Forest Reserve, set out to rescue their livelihoods in the face of a farming downturn and established New Zealand’s first private walking track. Thirty years on, through their intensive conservation projects, they have rescued much more than themselves.
Where in the world could an adventurous walker traverse the rim of an ancient volcanic complex, with sweeping panoramas out across open ocean and inwards along an 8 mile volcanic harbour? Where could you spend the night inside a private white-flippered penguin sanctuary, see the world’s smallest dolphins with their rounded fins, watch fur seals in numbers and spot many rare land and marine birds? How about walking through the famous “Fools and Dreamers” Hinewai, a 1500 hectare native forest reserve, with its ancient beech, tree ferns, fuchsia and rapidly regenerating native flora and fauna?
The unique, extinct, highly eroded, volcanic complex forming Banks Peninsula is situated east of Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island. Volcanic activity between 11 and 6 million years ago led to the formation of two overlapping volcanic cones. When eruptions ceased, the cones were gradually eroded to about half their original height flooding a major south facing valley.
Whilst many of New Zealand’s other walks have become crowded, here only a maximum of 16 walkers per day can set out. You walk at your own pace in your own time. Traversing such a vast landscape each walker feels she/he has it to themselves. Banks Track offers a chance to re-engage with the natural world and with no cell phone coverage in the outer bays - offers true escapism!
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