Exploring the Banks Peninsula

October 13, 2014
This weekend it felt like summer. Honest to goodness summer.
It was the perfect time for bikes and beer, jumps and berms and general trail explorations with friends. Unfortunately though, Scott is currently channeling all of his energy towards healing a few broken ribs. There was a mishap with him and a shrub and a tree. Nature won.

During Scott’s first few codeine-haze days on the couch, he researched alternate activities for the next 12 weeks… 6 weeks (who are we kidding, he’ll be back at it in no time). He announced to me that he thought driving his trusty (?) Subaru on the beach at Birdling Flats would be a good idea. And as long as we didn’t get stuck, the road would become a shingle (gravel) path through the rural southern half of the Banks Peninsula.
Confused? Here! Maps!
Northern half of the South Island, NZ. Got it? Ok, ZOOM:
So we actually drove across the beach to Bossu Rd (above), but Google Maps doesn’t recognize that as a road. So this is sort of our route, but shown backwards and not attached.
The beach at Birdling Flat is made up of round stones, tumbled smooth by the ocean. It’s not your normal “beach” really (lounging would be uncomfortable) but it is quite pretty.
Not sand. Small rocks. And big rocks.
We gathered lots of cool colored rocks (nerds unite!) but this one really really was just sitting there.

So above, thats the beach in question that we were going to drive across. Sure there was a “path” across it, a narrow strip where wheels had created ruts to guide you. But I was skeptical.

This guy, not nervous at all. Broken ribs? What else are we gonna do? Lets see if we can almost but not quite get the car stuck! Sweet as.

I held my breath the whole time we drove across the beach. We started with lots of speed, but almost immediately it felt like we had driven into a swamp. Just when I thought we were going to be stuck though, the Subie picked up. A little fishtail left, then right, and it carried on through the rocks.

After the beach I foolishly thought we were home free. We had watched a truck go over a small levy which was obviously gravel, but it didn’t look too hard. Did we hike over and look at it first? Nahhh…

High on our beach triumph, we drove right over to the levy, which as it turned out was an extremely narrow strip of deep round rocks dividing two bits of water. Basically, a gauntlet.

But since Im writing this with at least a glimpse of humor, I suppose you realize that we made it. I was pretty thrilled it was a one way trip.

The dodgy bit of levy we crossed.

From there on out it was backwoods driving at its’ best. We saw lakes and ocean, vistas and sheep.

Well, that actually sums up about all of what we saw, but it was beautiful. Now, a photo montage for you:

Scott told me to pose. Im not much of a model.
Island Bay greeting committee.
The black sheep hated me and I couldn’t get a better photo.

After several hours of hikes and exploration, we realized we were famished. Conveniently, the Hilltop Tavern just on the way to/from Akaroa was open and making fantastic pizzas. The view alone is worth a stop, but the beer and pizza, and resident goat, make it a place I’ll be back to again and again.

We may not have pedaled our way into earning these. But we didn’t feel too guilty.
I want your pizza.

On our way home we stopped for a little cheeky bird watching. Look mom, I know bird stuff! We saw:

White faced herons
New Zealand scaups
Australian shovelers
Pied shags
Spotted shags
Little shags
Swamp harriers
Black swans
Australasian crested grebes
Welcome swallows

…and seagulls of some sort.

Bird watching territory

When we got home I tried to “stitch” together some panoramas from photos I took, which came out pretty cool but a bit small on the blog. You get the idea though. Pretty stuff.

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1 Comment

  • Reply deborah gregory October 31, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    I love your stories..as always. Great photos!

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