Showing posts with label Mt Herbert. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mt Herbert. Show all posts

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Port Levy Saddle to Mt Herbert: 19 October 2019

My annual pilgrimage to Mt Herbert...

Following on from my previous post...last weekend I went for my semi annual jaunt up to the summit of Mt Herbert on Banks Peninsula. This time I followed the route of Te Ara Pataka from Port Levy Saddle to the repeater station atop Mt Herbert.

I have a couple of semi annual trip locations I try to get to each year normally using a different route. Other examples are the Kaituna Valley to Packhorse Hut track, up the valley to Hawdon Hut and a trip up to Abel Tasman NP to complete another tramp.


View of the Port Hills and Canterbury from the summit of Mt Herbert

It was a great day for a walk... clear with a light breeze blowing, sunny and made for a excellent day tramp.


On Te Ara Pataka track above Kaituna Valley

I have tramped this track a couple of times now, it is a 12 km 4-6 hour return trip mostly following the route of an old paper road across the top of several ridge-lines. There were a few other souls out ...I saw a total of 11 other people over the course of the day but really I had this track to myself.  

Port Levy Saddle to Pt. 913 Little Mt Herbert


I normally go up Mt Herbert from the Purau Saddle-Monument Track approach but I thought I would follow a different route this time. This track starts at the car park at the top of Port Levy Saddle, following Western Valley Road up from Little River. This is the same car park you use if visiting Rod Donald Hut out to the south east on the Te Ara Pataka track. 


The Silver Surfer at the Port Levy Saddle car park

Start of the track between Port Levy Saddle and Mt Herbert


The 4 W/D track from Port Levy Saddle...

The route is mostly along a old 4 W/D farm track to near the junction with the Monument Track (South) route, from there it is your typical DOC track all the rest of the way to the top of Mt Herbert. It is easy walking as most of it is flat with a only a few small hill climbs at the beginning, in the middle and right at the end of the route.


Map: Port Levy saddle to Mt Herbert on Te Ara Pataka



Port Levy Saddle to Mt Herbert: climbing the first hill of the day Pt. 763

There are awesome views from anywhere up here ...that is one of the really positive aspects of Te Ara Pataka the spectacular scenery in every direction. I am surprised the track is not more popular as a multi day tramp but people can be a bit disparaging about tracks across farmland when they are so close to a big city. 


View back to Port Levy Saddle from the Port Levy Saddle to Mt Herbert track

Low cloud in Western Valley, Port Levy Saddle to Mt Herbert track


Climbing to the top of Kaituna Spur, Port Levy Saddle to Mt Herbert track

The first section of the route is up to a saddle next to Pt. 807 then a long slow sidle above Kaituna Valley. You need to be fully prepared for the sun if you are coming up here as it is relentless and there is no shade anywhere along the track. 

Bring that sun screen and a wide brimmed hat if you have one...


Port Levy Saddle to Mt Herbert track: still climbing Kaituna Spur

First view of Mt Herbert from the saddle between Pt. 763 and Kaituna Spur

The route follows the course of a 'paper road'...land set aside for roads but never actually used..there were once plans to build a road from Gebbies Pass to Hilltop but there was no money to actually build it. The track largely stays inside the confines of the paper road as this is land owned by the crown therefore removing any access problems. 

You can tell a paper road by the parallel fences set 22 yards apart...the standard width of a country road.....there are multiple examples of this all the way from Port Levy Saddle to Little Mt Herbert. Look for this next time you are out tramping..you will see it everywhere.... 


....paper road....22 yards between fences....Port Levy Saddle to Mt Herbert track

Port Levy Saddle to Mt Herbert track....climbing towards Pt. 807

From the saddle on the flank of Pt. 807 you can see the hill ranges that surround Akaroa Harbour off to the south. Most of those hills are between 700-800 meters above sea level....they looked cool with the low cloud that had filled all the valleys out on this side of the Peninsula.



Looking out towards the hills around Akaroa Harbour


View down to Port Levy from the Port Levy Saddle to Mt Herbert track

Mt Herbert and Pt 706 in the distance...Port Levy Saddle to Mt Herbert track

Mt Herbert and to left Mt Bradley massif's

Once past Pt 807 you descend down to Kaituna Spur Reserve a non continuous area of existing and regenerating native bush next to the track. This area is slowly self seeding and spreading down the sides of the spur into the upper reaches of Kaituna Valley. There are some reasonable examples of Halls Totara, Matai, Pahautea and Hinau...it is quite dense bush in places...


Approaching the Kaituna Spur Reserve on Port Levy Saddle to Mt Herbert track

....dense native bush at Kaituna Spur Reserve, Banks Peninsula


Regenerating bush around Kaituna Spur Reserve

From the track you can see down into Kaituna Valley into areas you wont normally be able to get to. There is a route from the head of the Kaituna Valley to Te Ara Pataka it is called the Monument Track (South) and takes about 1-2 hours to walk. I intend to walk up the track at some time in the near future so keep an eye out for a post about that route.....



View down to upper Kaituna Valley from the Port Levy Saddle to Mt Herbert track

The wind has sculpted various trees along the track..as you can see below it strongly leans in the direction of the prevailing wind which along here is from the south. The wind will shear the leaves off the windward side......leaving a strong lean on the lee of the tree...

Map: Area around the Kaituna Spur Reserve, Te Ara Pataka


...wind shaped tree in the Kaituna Spur Reserve...


More wind shaped trees in the upper Kaituna Valley, Port Levy Saddle to Mt Herbert track

Because the land along the route is mostly devoid of trees you can see your forward route laid out for some distance ahead of you. The track clearly stands out as it rises, falls and sidles along the crest of the ridges. 



Port Levy from near Pt.761, Port Levy Saddle to Mt Herbert track

The tops of these hills were once covered with thick forest...in colonial times the settlers took the best timber and then clear fell anything left and set it alight. The evidence is clearly visible along the track with large trunks of dead whitened trees and stumps everywhere. Some of the trunks are big (2-3 meters around) and were probably from 300 year old trees. 

They had a different set of priorities in colonial New Zealand....


Remains of old forest cover the slopes of Pt. 761, Port Levy Saddle to Mt Herbert track

You pass the junction with the Monument Track (South) on the saddle between Pt. 761 and Kaituna Spur Reserve. The track follows the line of an old farm track up valley from the farm at its head. On the lower slopes it goes through forest remnant including some fully mature native trees...higher up it is open pasture land and tussock. 


Junction with the Monument Track (South) and Te Ara Pataka


Climbing up Pt.761 on the Port Levy Saddle to Mt Herbert track

There is a large exotic forest of Pinus Radiata on the upper slopes of Te Kawa Valley, Port Levy...it must be harvest time as they look fully mature to me. You can see the clear route of the Western Valley Road which links Little River with Port Levy settlement. I drove down here a couple of weeks ago when I visited Rod Donald Hut on a day trip. 


Exotic forest on the upper edge of  Te Kawa Valley, Port Levy

Climbing up Pt.761, Port Levy Saddle to Mt Herbert Track

There are a couple of boulder fields to negotiate on the sidle around Pt 761...watch your footing through here as I slipped off one of the slick boulders and would have skinned my shin were I not wearing my knee length gaiters. 


..negotiating a boulder field on the Port Levy Saddle to Mt Herbert Track....

Once past Pt. 761 you have the long climb up the southern side of Pt. 913 aka Little Mt Herbert. There was no effort expended making a easy switchback track...the bugger goes right up the slope in a long straight line. Plenty of mountaineers walk was used here as it is a climb of a couple of hundred meters....


Junction of the track to the Monument and the climb up Little Mt Herbert


....the climb up to the top of Little Mt Herbert...

This is a long exposed section of track that can get quite cold if a strong southerly is blowing up the coast...about half way to the top is a convenient boulder field that you can sit behind and shelter from the elements if you need a rest. 



...still climbing up Little Mt Herbert...


There is a strange feature about half way to the top of Little Mt Herbert...a couple of naturally stacked rocks about the size of a freezer.I don't know how the top rock came to rest where it is...my best guess would be frost/thaw erosion has split a huge chunk off the top and gradually over the years it has weathered a wider and wider crack between them.

A curious oddity indeed....


Natural rock stack on the side of Little Mt Herbert

The border between farmland and the top of Little Mt Herbert rests about a hundred meters from the crest...there is a fence along here and a stile. They have obviously had problems with people hunting up here as there is a sign attached to the fence with a number to call if you see hunters.

All this land is farmland or land that DOC have banned hunting on...what they would be shooting is anyone's guess...probably rabbits, hares, possums and the occasional feral pig.....


Fence separating farmland from DOC land, Little Mt Herbert

View south east from Little Mt Herbert, Banks Peninsula

Little Mt Herbert aka Pt. 913 is the second highest point on Banks Peninsula and is only six meters shorter than the main Mt Herbert ridge. There are superb views from up here so if you have a lack of time or cultural problems with standing on mountain summits then just stop here. 

Both Little Mt Herbert and Mt Herbert have repeater stations for emergency services on the summit, both make good expedient rest spots out of the wind. There are 360 degree views from here over most of Banks Peninsula, the Port Hills, Lyttelton, Canterbury and the distant Southern Alps. On a perfectly clear day you can sometimes see Aoraki/Mt Cook away to the south west....


..almost at the crest of Little Mt Herbert, Banks Peninsula

Mt Bradley and Mt Herbert from Pt.913, Little Mt Herbert

View of the track going over Little Mt Herbert...

The Monument from the top of Little Mt Herbert

Pegasus Bay from the summit of Little Mt Herbert

From the top of Little Mt Herbert it is another 30 minutes walk to get to the top of the main ridge of Mt Herbert. 

Little Mt Herbert to Mt Herbert summit

I sat out for the main ridge of Mt Herbert after a 10 minutes break for a rest, drink and snack in the lee of the Little Mt Herbert repeater station. The first part of the route is a drop down to a saddle between the two high points then a climb up onto and along the eastern end of the main massif of Mt Herbert. 


Port Hills and Purau Bay from the top of Little Mt Herbert

Great view of Mt Bradley and Mt Herbert from Little Mt Herbert

The track from Little Mt Herbert to Mt Herbert

Out to the north east is Mt Evans (703 asl) one of the larger hills over looking the entrance to Lyttelton Harbour. Unfortunately there is no track to the summit as it is all across farm land...I would imagine the views of Godley Head and Lyttelton are magnificent. 


Mt Evans from Te Ara Pataka near Little Mt Herbert


On the saddle between Little Mt Herbert and Mt Herbert

Kaituna Valley and Lake Ellesmere from near Little Mt Herbert

The saddle between the two peaks is about 60 meters lower but you can feel happy climbing back up as this is the final climb you have to make before arriving at the summit of Mt Herbert. You ascend a slope and then make your way along the eastern end of the Mt Herbert massif. The highest point on Banks Peninsula is next to the repeater station and antennas you can see about a kilometer in the distance. 


Looking back up to Little Mt Herbert from the saddle

You can just see the antennas on top of Mt Herbert

Little Mt Herbert and Te Ara Pataka track from Mt Herbert

I got lost in thick cloud on the eastern flank of Mt Herbert back in 2016 while walking Te Ara Pataka. The photo below shows the spot where I got 'geographically challenged' and headed off down a farm track AWAY from the summit. I got totally lost as the track petered out about a hundred meters down the hill....

Using my GPS and compass I was able to locate a nearby fence which acted as a rail to guide me back onto the correct track...


...place I got lost back in 2016, eastern flank of Mt Herbert

...what the track looked like back in 2016....Mt Herbert

The spur below is where the Te Ara Pataka track will take you up onto the eastern end of the Mt Herbert massif...not totally obvious as no clear track and even worse when visibility is less than 3 meters....



Climbing up a spur on Mt Herbert

on the eastern end of the Mt Herbert massif

...final stretch of the Port Levy Saddle to Mt Herbert Track

I arrived on the top of Mt Herbert after two hours and 45 minutes....


On the summit of Mt Herbert


Mt Herbert is not one high peak but rather a flat massif about a kilometer long with a height difference of less than five meters along its length. It is about 300 meters wide from the Kaituna Valley side to the Lyttelton side. As such you cannot see in all directions as the curvature of the hill blocks your views...you have to move back and forth along the plateau to get the best views. 



Repeater station on top of Mt Herbert (919 asl), Banks Peninsula

Highest spot on Mt Herbert summit...919 meters

Kaitorete spit and Lake Ellesmere from summit of Mt Herbert


Jon on the summit of Mt Herbert, Banks Peninsula

There used to be a trig point up here that marked the highest point but as they regularly get +150 kph winds up here it has been toppled and destroyed. The highest point is actually the cairn in the photo below...this is about one meter higher than the surrounding ground so in effect that makes Mt Herbert 920 meters high.....not 919!!!

Common on you cartographers...get with the program!!!


The highest point on Mt Herbert...920 meters high with the cairn...

Kaituna Valley, Kaitorete Spit  from top of Mt Herbert

The view from the top of Mt Herbert is fantastic on a clear day...on the day I was there you could see from just north of Kaikoura right down to Oamaru in South Canterbury. It is absolutely worth the effort of climbing up here to be able to see the lie of the land in Canterbury.

You can also see right out to the horizon over the ocean...probably a couple of hundred kilometers distant. 


Mt Evans from top of Mt Herbert

Port Hills and Lyttelton from top of Mt Herbert

Quail Island from top of Mt Herbert, Banks Peninsula

Distant Southern Alps and Head of the Bay from top of Mt Herbert

If the weather is bad you should head off the south western end of the massif and eat your lunch in the Mt Herbert Shelter about 10 minutes down the hill. Otherwise the best spot out of the wind is tucked up close to the repeater station. I happily sat here for nearly twenty minutes while I ate my lunch and admired the expansive views. 

I had a chat to the mother/daughter duo who were also eating their lunch..they had walked up from Diamond Harbour after catching the 8 am ferry across from Lyttelton. Another trip I have planed for sometime in the future....


..Mt Herbert repeater station is good place for lunch...


Jon sitting at the Mt Herbert repeater station


Emergency services antenna on Mt Herbert


Lunchtime on summit of Mt Herbert, Banks Peninsula

...Jon had a Kellogg LCM bar as part of his lunch on Mt Herbert...

If you look out to the south east from the top of Mt Herbert you get the best views of the high peaks around Akaroa...they are probably 20-25 km's away from you at this point. 


View of the hills around Akaroa Harbour from Mt Herbert

You can clearly see the top of Mt Bradley from up here...over four kilometers and 70 odd meters lower.....all of these peaks would once have been part of the Lyttelton volcanic cone but millions of years of erosion have worn them down to nubs. 


Southern Alps and Mt Bradley from top of Mt Herbert

I remember reading in a geography textbook that the Akaroa and Lyttelton volcanoes were once 3000+ meter tall monsters. Akaroa was the bigger of the two and at its peak it was taller than the current height of Aoraki/Mt Cook (3724 meters asl). 

Obviously a whole lot of rock has chipped off them over the years....all that debris partially formed the Canterbury Plains

Heading back to Port Levy Saddle via the Monument Track by-pass


The trip back to the car park at Port Levy Saddle is almost an exact reverse of the journey to Mt Herbert. You follow the same track back to Port Levy Saddle although it is an easier journey as there are less up hill sections and those you do encounter are not as step. 


On the saddle between Mt Herbert and Little Mt Herbert

First part of the return leg was walking back down the eastern end of Mt Herbert and up the track to Little Mt Herbert. A bit of care was required on this day as recent rain meant the grass was slick and there was a bit of mud about.


...long climb up Little Mt Herbert...

Repeater station and antennas on Little Mt Herbert

I decided to take an alternate route from Little Mt Herbert....there is a connector track between Monument Track and Te Ara Pataka that join on the saddle between Little Mt Herbert and Pt. 806. The connector track sidles along the eastern flank of Little Mt Herbert and rejoins Te Ara Pataka on another saddle between Little Mt Herbert and Pt 761.

I have passed the connector track three times now and always wondered what was down there so I just decided to go look...


Heading down the Monument Track from Little Mt Herbert

First part of this diversion was to walk down the Monument Track on an old farm track to Pt.806...this is the route that Monument Track follows to Purau Saddle. The going is easy as it is flat track without any large climbs or descents and it is well marked so it is difficult to get lost.


On the map below the course of the connector track between the two points is marked in red....

Map: Te Ara Pataka-Monument Track connector

...on Monument track, eastern flank of Little Mt Herbert...

Once down at the saddle next to Pt. 806 you follow the obvious track markers along a fence line heading south towards the other end. There is a track sign for the Monument Track but none for this diversion track. 


Pt. 806 over looking the Monument Track, Banks Peninsula

Pt. 806 from near the by-pass track, Monument Track

The track follows a fence line all the way and never goes more than 3 meters away from it. The track is mostly flat...there is a slight climb about halfway around which is then followed by more long level track. The track is a bit rough underfoot as it does not get a lot of traffic...it could do with a bit of a spruce up really. 



Pt 806.to Kaituna Spur by-pass track, Banks Peninsula

Pt 806.to Kaituna Spur by-pass track, Banks Peninsula

Pt 806.to Kaituna Spur by-pass track, Banks Peninsula


Pt 806.to Kaituna Spur by-pass track, Banks Peninsula

I stopped halfway along the connector track for a drink and a rest....it was seriously hot walking along here as the wind was blocked by Little Mt Herbert and the sun was fully out. It was nice sitting in the sun and looking out at the views....I could have sat there all day. 

Anyway...after 10 minutes I grabbed my gear and continued on down the track as I had places to be..like home!!!


Having  break on the Pt 806.to Kaituna Spur by-pass track, Banks Peninsula


Pt.761 from the Pt 806.to Kaituna Spur by-pass track, Banks Peninsula

View of Port Levy from near Pt. 761, Te Ara Pataka

The connector track finishes on the saddle in between Little Mt Herbert and Pt 761. If you wanted to do an alternate route while walking between Port Levy Saddle and Mt Herbert then go this way...it is interesting and a track you might not have walked before. Otherwise...just go down Little Mt Herbert on the main track...it is quicker and probably easier to walk along. 


Object D'arte near Pt 761, Mt Herbert to Port Levy Saddle track

Pt. 761 directly ahead, Mt Herbert to Port Levy Saddle track

Now back on the main Te Ara Pataka track I made quick progress back towards Kaituna Spur Reserve. The gradient of the track heading back towards the car park tends to the gentle downhill....there are a couple of hills to climb but 'nothing too serious'....


Mt Herbert to Port Levy Saddle track above Kaituna Valley

Kaitorete Spit from the Mt Herbert to Port Levy Saddle track

There are a lot of old Totara trunks on the saddle between Kaituna Reserve and Pt. 761...it seems shameful that the colonials land owners just cut them down and left them here to rot. I mean they were using these pastures for rearing sheep so its not as if a few trees would make the land less productive...doesn't seem worth the effort of cutting them down in the first place. 


Debris from forest clearance around Monument Track (south), Kaituna Valley

Kaituna Spur Reserve is a non-continuous area of forest...there are large gaps in the forest cover and it covers both sides of the track. There are some large trees there...enough to give you an idea of what it once must have looked like. This area is now protected and I believe there are future plans to fence it and do some replanting.


Native Totora tree in Kaituna Spur Reserve

Lake Ellesmere from near Kaituna Spur Reserve

Large native tree near Kaituna Spur Reserve

Regenerating forest at the Kaituna Spur Reserve, Te Ara Pataka

There were lots of birds around the area I saw some Keruru, Silvereyes, and Bellbirds. The native birds will skip from small forest pocket to forest pocket that's why these QEII covenanted reserves are so important. Together they form a network of bush habitat to encourage the birds to return to Banks Peninsula and make it their home...


More native bush on the flank of Pt. 807, Mt Herbert to Port Levy Saddle track

Excellent view of Kaituna Valley from Mt Herbert to Port Levy Saddle track

I had my last break of the trip on the southern edge of Kaituna Spur Reserve...I found a nice sunny spot and sat on a rock for a 10 minute rest. When I am walking I will generally stop about every hour or so for a 10 minute break for some water and a snack.

 It is important to keep the energy levels high by following this regime...especially if you are on a long multi hour mission. Get into the habit of doing this on day walks and it will transfer over to any longer distance walking you do. 

Port Levy from Kaituna Spur Reserve, Mt Herbert to Port Levy Saddle track

Pt. 807 spur....last significant hill on the Mt Herbert to Port Levy Saddle track

Some of the nicest scenery I have seen happens when you stop for a break...if you quietly sit and contemplate your surrounds you notice things like the wind in the trees, the call of wildlife, gurgle of a river etc. We tend to get so wrapped up in getting from point A to point B we forget to notice this stuff. I have made more of an effort to 'be in the moment' since I got sick earlier this year and wasn't sure I would still be here to enjoy it...

Next time you go out for a walk or tramp take the time to notice your surroundings.....its why we do this stuff after all. Time is precious...don't waste it folks!!!


Excellent view of Port Levy fro flank of Pt. 807, Mt Herbert to Port Levy Saddle track

...there are several stiles on the Mt Herbert to Port Levy Saddle track....

The last significant climb of the trip is up and along the side of Pt. 807 near Kaituna Spur Reserve, from here you drop down and follow the old farm track all the way out to the car park. This is about a kilometer from the end of the tramp so you are on your last 30 minutes of walking...


View of the hills around Hilltop Tavern from Pt. 807, Mt Herbert to Port Levy Saddle track


In the photo below you can just make out the Seaward Kaikoura Range near Kaikoura....some of these mountains run to +2700 meters but they are a LONG way in the distance. I would guesstimate they are 200 kms distant from my spot on the Te Ara Pataka track...really good visibility on the day of my tramp. 


You can just see the mountains north of Kaikoura.....from Te Ara Pataka

...a closer view of those mountains near Kaikoura...

The last small hill climb is on the track along the side of Pt. 763...easy walking. BTW if you want a good view of the track going east to Waipuna Saddle and Rod Donald Hut then climb up Pt. 763 as it has an unimpeded view of the area. 


....last uphill on the Mt Herbert to Port Levy Saddle track...

Western Valley road comes into view, Mt Herbert to Port Levy Saddle track

...paper road...22 yards wide, Mt Herbert to Port Levy Saddle track........

Good to arrive back at the car park and still see my car sitting there....this is a fairly secure spot to park but any back-country trail head has the potential for larceny so make sure your valuables are out of sight and the car is locked. 

I made good time on the way back to the car...I left the top of Mt Herbert at 12.03 and arrived at the car park at 2.32 pm. I would probably have broken the two hour mark if I had gone up and over Little Mt Herbert instead of walking around the side. I wasn't racing..it is just easier walking this way as it is mostly downhill.


Back at the Port Levy Saddle car park

The end of a decent tramp on a lovely Spring day...fine weather, a light breeze and sun. What else could you ask for! If you have never waked this track then what are you waiting for..the awesome views from atop the hills of Banks Peninsula should make this a must do tramp in anyone's potential trip list.


Access: From car park at Port Levy Saddle. Take SH 75 Christchurch to Akaroa, turn off onto Western Valley Road past Little River, follow the narrow, winding gravel road 17 km's to Port Levy Saddle. Track starts on northern side of road.
Track Times: From Port Levy Saddle to Mt Herbert is 12 kilometers, 5-6 hours return. The connector track via Monument Track will add 10 minutes to your time.
Miscellaneous: Most of this track is exposed to the elements including sun, wind, rain and snow. Please take this into account if planning a trip to Mt Herbert and make sure you are fully equipped for all conditions. There are no toilets and no potable water along this track. Toilet and water both available at Mt Herbert Shelter if required, 10 minutes off western end of Mt Herbert massif.