Wildlife often seen include Hectors dolphin, penguins and seals, but there are also lots of other birds, mammals, lizards, fish and insects along the way.
White flippered penguins are the endangered Canterbury sub-species of the Australasian Little Penguin, its' Maori name is Korora.
Flea Bay boasts the largest mainland colony of any little penguin on mainland New Zealand. The penguins breed between September and mid - January, and adults moult between December and end of February. The best viewing month is October
A penguin colony also exists at Stony Bay
On the second evening of the four day walk, Francis Helps invites Track walkers to join him on his evening tour of the white flippered penguin nesting boxes that he has established and maintains on the farm. Sometimes Yellow Eye penguins (Hoiho) are also seen.The tours are seasonal, spring and early summer, stopping around the end of January.
Free, (optional conservation donation)
The possibility to kayak at Flea Bay is provided by Shireen Helps, and is separate from your Banks Peninsula Track booking. Shireen Helps offers a special price of just $25 for Track walkers on her kayaking trips at Flea Bay/Pohatu Marine Reserve, but would like to stress that availability is dependent on her commitments on the day, and cannot be booked by Track walkers in advance. The most usual time is in the morning after staying the night there on the four day walk, but when you arrive at Flea Bay, please follow the instructions in the hut and make your interest to go kayaking known as early as possible.
This trip can be mind blowing in the right sea conditions. The outer coast of Pohatu Marine Reserve is spectacular with towering sea cliffs sculpted through the ages by the sea into rock stacks, reefs, and deep sea caves. Flea Bay Island and the impressive island arch make an added exciting attraction.
Even if the outer coast is too rough for kayaking the sheltered bay has a lot to offer. Pohatu/ Flea Bay is home to seals that can almost always be seen lounging on the rocks or swimming nearby. During the breeding or moulting season penguins are often found sitting in and around rock crevices, or maybe swimming out on the water of the bay. Often Hectors Dolphins join us and swim along with the kayaks.
A large fleet of safe stable doubles and experienced guides enables even the inexperienced to enjoy an unforgettable experience - trips may be accompanied free of additional charge.
Please note - kayaking is subject to sea conditions. Kayak hire is open when at least the sheltered bay can be kayaked.
Hinewai Reserve, owned and managed by a private Charitable Trust but freely open to the public, is Banks Peninsula's largest conservation area at 1230 hectares. An interesting development is that when the Track opened, Hinewai was the smallest property involved, whereas it is now more than twice the size of the biggest farm. The Reserve ranges from the subalpine summit of Taraterehu/Stony Bay Peak, down to 20m above sea level near the coast, and embraces the catchments of Otanerito, Sleepy, and Stony Bays. Increasingly it links in with surrounding smaller reserves - some are Department of Conservation reserves, some Christchurch City Council, some are on private land protected in perpetuity by legal covenants.
All the landowners along the Banks Peninsula Track have protected some (or in Hinewai's case, all) of their land in this way.
The Banks Peninsula Track guide booklet
which you collect at the beginning of your walk was written by Hugh Wilson of Hinewai Reserve, and includes many interesting details about the history of the area, past vegetation and wildlife, as well as current plant and wildlife.
'Wildside' predator control funding
We are celebrating our 25th year with additional conservation and wildlife initiatives. Amongst these is support for predator control on the 'Wildside'. This wonderful programme now covers all the properties of the Banks Peninsula Track, and we are delighted to contribute $5000 this year to its administrative costs, as well as the many hours by Track landowners in implementing the programme.
The Wildside Project is a collaborative project between the Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust, The Josef Langer Charitable Trust, Christchurch City Council, Department of Conservation, and Environment Canterbury for the protection of special biodiversity on the South-eastern bays of Banks Peninsula.
For more details on the 'Wildside' project, visit the BPCT site.