New Zealand’s first private walking track celebrates 30 years
Where in the world can you traverse the rim of an ancient volcanic complex, with sweeping panoramas out across open ocean and inwards along an 8 mile volcanic harbour? Where can 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? Where can you walk 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 answer: the Banks Track.
Crossing open farmland, climbing crater rims, descending into stream lines, this breathtaking track on Banks Peninsula was New Zealand’s first private walking track and has recently celebrated its 30th anniversary.
Whilst many of New Zealand’s other walks have become crowded, here only a maximum of 16 walkers per day can set out, and walkers are able to tackle the track at their own pace, in their own time. Offering a unique chance to re-engage with our natural landscape, and with no cell phone coverage in the outer bays, this is true escapism!
A Fishing Village in Print
Inland from Greta Valley and nestled between Gore Bay and Amberley Beach is picturesque Motunau Beach – whose history has been captured in Hooked on Motunau by Julie Brown.
With her own grandparents amongst the first few pioneers in the 1930s to camp at the beach, she has captured the quaint township beautifully. ‘It has become a compilation of art, photos, stories and a collective of anecdotic history, sourced from pioneering families,’ she recalls. ‘The intention was to capture stories and material from each group with full exposure of families’ influences and impacts on Motunau: from beach and rural, bach and farm, to holidaymakers and fishing industry aficionados.’
Calling All Art Lovers
After the First World War it was decided that Pigeon Bay was in need of a hall, as over 40 children attended the local schools and nearly 60 families lived in the locality. Local landowner Mr Hay generously donated a piece of waterfront land and construction began in 1920, using local labour and materials.
Utilising the old springs from the Christchurch Town Hall, which burnt down in 1873, it also houses one of the largest sprung dance floors in New Zealand complete with a stage and a meeting room at the back of the hall. Used by local schools for plays and assemblies as well as social gatherings, drama and music events and weddings, it has become a social hub for the local community.
And for art lovers and painters Penny Townshend and Alice Lewis, it is the perfect location in which to hold the Pigeon Bay Exhibition. ‘It is such a wonderful venue,’ enthuses Alice. ‘It has a huge amount of wall space, which makes it perfect for exhibitions.’
This Easter Weekend, 11 – 13 April, will see over 20 different artists on display. ‘Over half of the exhibitors are new names [from the last exhibition], which is great,’ continues Alice. ‘We will also be running a series of workshops that will allow people a hands-on experience.’
Workshops include foraging and fermentation, dry point etching, printmaking and more. Email for full details.
A New Date for the Diary – 22 February 2020
There is a new festival in town – the inaugural Banks Peninsula Festival at Orton Bradley Park. Destined to showcase the best the region has to offer, including the launch of the Peninsula’s first gin and limoncello distillery, Lyttelton Distillery Company, it is not to be missed!
The 60-plus stallholders will ensure there is something for every taste bud, shopper and family member with everything from a wide variety of food, local coffee, honey, fruit, arts, crafts and more on offer.
Local musicians and artists will add to the festivities while the demonstration tent is guaranteed to draw a crowd with local artisans sharing their talents and a Mystery Box Cook-off set to challenge local chefs and home cooks. Celebrity Chef Simon Gault will be on hand to judge and will also take the stage himself with a cooking demonstration. Find out more at bankspeninsulafestival.co.nz
Food, Song, Dance, Culture!
Ashburton’s Multi Cultural Bite is back, and is an incredible way to spend your Waitangi Day. The annual cultural food and dance festival attracts over 14,000 visitors and sees numerous cultures from within our local community perform and share bite-sized portions of food representative of their culture, enabling you to sample food from right around the world! An immersive and educational day for the whole family, 6 February 2020, 10 am – 2 pm, Baring Square East, Ashburton.