Friday, January 6, 2017

Banks Peninsula

On our second day in Christchurch we decided to have a look at Banks Peninsula. This is an area consisting of the remains of several extinct volcanoes that have been slowly eroded over millions of years to form beautiful bays and beaches. The whole area was named Banks Island by Captain Cook after his resident botanist Joseph Banks (even though it was later discovered not to be an island!).

The main town in the area is Akaroa which we briefly tried to stop at. However it appears to have become a major tourist hot spot as we struggled to find any parking. I think this is down to the cruise ships that stop here but on the day we visited there were no cruise ships in the harbour and the little township was still heaving with tourists.

We avoided the town centre and headed up to a walk that took us through a cemetery for the early settlers in Akaroa. Quite fascinating and sobering reading the gravestones. Early life for European settlers was clearly not easy.

The clouds lifted in the afternoon and we headed out towards Okains Bay on the other side of the Peninsula.

On the way we passed an amazing little nature reserve which had great views across the Peninsula. It appeared to be maintained by volunteers and totally self funded. Well worth a visit and a great spot for a picnic.

Okains Bay is well worth the drive along the twisty roads. It appears to have a fantastic camp ground and if the wind had died down the beach would have been great for swimming.

I would also recommend the lovely cafe in the village. The tea and cakes are great and the interesting retro nicknacks  on sale are really cool.

There is also a large cave to one side of the beach which is fun to explore.

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