2010. Kaituna Valley Road view of Mt Bradley & Mt Herbert
Along the winding road to Akaroa, I drove from Christchurch to Kaituna Valley turnoff, drove up lovely Kaituna Valley Road past paddocks, orchards and vineyards, with grand views of Mt Bradley and Mt Herbert.
About 40 kms from Christchurch, I parked my car at the end of Kaituna Valley Road, as I wanted to walk Monument Track up to the top of Port Levy Saddle, sidle around Mt Herbert summit slopes, and descend to The Monument dome above Purau Saddle, Purau - Port Levy Road. Estimated distance, 12 kms. My time, 6 1/2 hours return.
Caution: Port Levy Saddle and Mt Herbert slopes were exposed to the elements. Hill walking fitness, water, food and weatherproof gear needed.
2010. Farm Buildings at end of Kaituna Valley Road
2010. Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust Sign, Kaituna Valley
I passed a yellow farmhouse overlooking Kaituna River, passed farm sheds, and went through a gate with a BANKS PENINSULA CONSERVATION TRUST sign by the gate. In bush beyond the gate I crossed a wooden bridge, after which Monument Track forked left following Kaituna River towards Port Levy Saddle.
I forked right over another wooden bridge, as I wanted to climb unmarked Kaituna Spur slopes, giving me views of Mt Bradley and Monument Track going up Mt Herbert lower slopes.
2010. Kaituna Valley view of Mt Bradley (855m) slopes
I followed quad bike tracks on a farm road through bush, macrocarpas and mature pines. At an old coal-range stove picnic spot I coolpixed views down Kaituna Valley. I entered grassland going steeply up Kaituna Spur slopes, and followed a grassy farm track (unmarked on my Christchurch Topo50 map) which zigzagged up a slope towards a native bush pocket.
Wandering a farm track contour high above Monument Track, I had grand views of Mt Bradley and Mt Herbert south-facing slopes, including Mt Herbert Reserve with native bush below Mt Herbert summit (919m).
2010. Kaituna Spur view of Monument Track & Mt Herbert slopes below Port Levy Saddle
The farm track sidled through bush pockets, and mainly through grassland, where hundreds of weathered stumps on hillsides showed where podocarp forest once flourished: once logged, gone forever. Slopes below Port Levy Saddle looked bomb-blasted, grey logs and totara stumps piercing the sky, monuments to loggers' greed.
On my way up I'd passed several weathered, totara fence posts and gate posts. Bush regenerated in places, but I thought it would take hundreds of years for mature totara forest to grow on Port Levy Saddle again.
2010. Kaituna Spur view of Mt Bradley (855m)
I sludged through cow dung polluting dry, rocky streams and two stinking catchment streams trickling down to Kaituna River. I wondered about Port Hills and Banks Peninsula streams I'd wandered, polluted with cow dung and sheep dung.
I was amused by a recent NZTV Closeup programme, where presenter Mark Sainsbury interviewed a Hawea local whining about overseas freedom-campers crapping on Lake Hawea shore. Three days later, The Press editorial shrieked about overseas freedom-campers crapping all over NZ.
Never mind that rural toilets were not provided for freedom-campers in exchange for tourist dollars. I thought Mark Sainsbury and The Press editors needed to walk Port Hills and Banks Peninsula to see tons of cow dung and sheep dung polluting catchment waters.
2010. Kaituna Spur view of Mt Herbert (919m)
The higher I climbed the better my views down Kaituna Valley and beyond to toxic Lake Ellesmere, Kaitorete Spit and the Pacific. The grassy track crossed a grassy tableland ridge below Port Levy Saddle, where I passed a herd of staring black and brown cows, some with white faces.
2010. Monument Track view of Kaituna Valley
2010. Monument Track view of Kaituna Valley & Lake Ellesmere
Below Port Levy Saddle crest the farm track joined Monument Track. After 10 minutes up steep, tree-stumped grassland, Monument Track joined Summit Track going from Kaituna Spur Reserve, by Little River - Port Levy Road, which zigzagged through grassland past more weathered logs and stumps to the top of Port Levy Saddle (720m).
My trek from the end of Kaituna Valley Road up Kaituna Spur (an extra kilometre detour above Monument Track) to Port Levy Saddle crest took me 2 3/4 hours.
2010. Old Totora Logging, Monument Track, Kaituna Valley west side of Port Levy Saddle
2010. Monument Track, Port Levy Saddle view of Mt Herbert Slopes & Kaituna Valley
2010. Monument Track zoom view of Kaituna Valley, Lake Ellesmere, Kaitorete Spit, Pacific
2010. Monument Track, Port Levy Saddle view of Kaituna Spur
Midday, I stopped for nor'wester breezes and lunch on top of Port Levy Saddle - CocaCola, Pams steak pie, muesli bar - by a PORT LEVY SADDLE sign. Someone had fixed an old shovel and old sledge-hammer to a post on top of Port Levy Saddle.
2010. Port Levy Saddle, Ascent to Mt Herbert Summit (919m)
2010. Sledge-Hammer & Shovel, Port Levy Saddle
2010. Port Levy Saddle, View of Port Levy & Pacific
2010. Port Levy Saddle, southern View
I coolpixed views:
Bush and pine forested valley going down to Port Levy, with Port Levy green waters, and blue Pacific waters beyond. I wondered whether Port Levy waters were polluted by Christchurch City Council's new sewage outfall pipe?
Kaituna Valley, Lake Ellesmere (NZ's 4th biggest lake) green waters, Kaitorete Spit with shelter belts across the sandy spit, and blue Pacific waters beyond. I thought toxic Lake Ellesmere waters (and nearby toxic Lake Forsyth waters), and Port Levy waters, both sides of Banks Peninsula, were polluted by stock dung and toxic farm and forestry chemicals in catchment streams.
Port Levy Saddle to Kaituna Spur and Banks Peninsula hills.
Poles with yellow tops marking the steep track to Mt Herbert summit (919m) a sign stating:
PURAU SADDLE 1 1/2 hr
2010. Port Levy Saddle, view of Lake Ellesmere & Pacific
Monument Track followed a fence, with cliff and pine forest views down the saddle to Port Levy and beyond to hills above Pigeon Bay. I sidled through grassland below Mt Herbert summit, past bracken and matagouri.
At a fence corner, above bushy cliffs and a 806m hill overlooking Port Levy, I crossed fence posts where Monument Track followed another fence at right angles to the first fence. Along the fences, Monument Track was in poor condition: long grass, ruts, and stinking cow dung mud churned by cattle hooves.
2010. Port Levy Saddle view of Forestry above Port Levy
2010. Monument Track view of Forestry above Port Levy & Banks Peninsula Hills
2010. Monument Track view of Port Levy Saddle & Banks Peninsula Hills
2010. Monument Track Stile view of Mt Evans (703m) & Pacific
2010. Monument Track view of Mt Herbert Eastern Summit Ridge
Sidling round a Mt Herbert summit slope, Monument Track took me to a stile, and another farm track on a windy saddle (760m) with magnificent views over Mt Herbert slopes, glistening Purau, Diamond Harbour, Lyttelton Harbour, Port Hills, Canterbury Plains, glistening Pegasus Bay and cloudy Southern Alps. Beyond Pegasus Bay I saw Kaikouras Ranges.
2010. Monument Track view of Mt Herbert Slopes & Port Hills
2010. Monument Track view of Mt Herbert Slopes, Lyttelton Harbour, Port Hills
I stopped on the saddle for cooling breezes, CocaCola and coolpixing, then continued down Monument Track for another kilometre with views over the top of The Monument dome (711m) obscured by the saddle hill (806m).
Below The Monument, Purau - Port Levy Road went over Purau Saddle (420m). Beyond Purau Saddle, Mt Evans (703m) stretched below me, with distant views over Pegasus Bay.
2010. Monument Track view of Purau, Lyttelton Harbour, Port Hills, Pegasus Bay
2010. Monument Track view of The Monument (711m), Mt Evans (703m), Port Hills & Pegasus Bay
Reaching a corner overlooking The Monument dome, I watched a man slogging up steep Monument Track below me. He looked pooped, as he stopped every 10 metres or so.
I didn't descend to Purau Saddle, as I'd cook in the 25 degree Centigrade, afternoon heat and nor'wester fohn wind. From Purau Saddle, I'd still have to return up steep Monument Track past The Monument, back to Port Levy Saddle again.
2010. Monument Track view of The Monument (711m). Mt Evans & Pacific backdrop
Turning back, I had cooling breezes and lovely views down Mt Herbert slopes to Purau and Diamond Harbour, and views to Mt Herbert summit (919m) with its masts on top. The mast on the summit ridge crest (913m) on the way down to Port Levy Saddle was skewed by the nor'wester at a 45 degree angle.
2010. Monument Track view of Mt Evans (703m), Lyttelton Harbour, Port Hills & Pegasus Bay. Find The Monument?
2010. Monument Track view of Mt Herbert (919m)
2010. Monument Track view of Port Levy
2010. Monument Track view of Hills Above Port Levy
One hour later back at Port Levy Saddle, I stopped for more CocaCola and coolpixing, then descended Monument Track in 1 3/4 hours, back to my car in Kaituna Valley.
On my way down, afternoon sun reflected off weathered totara stumps reaching for the sky, while I reflected on gorse pollution, plant succession and regeneration of native bush I passed: bracken ferns, prickly shield ferns, Polystichum vestitum, coprosmas, scrubby totaras, tree fuchsias, matagouri, horopito, muehlenbeckias, pittosporums, bush lawyer, kanuka, lancewoods, whiteywoods, tree ferns by streams, wineberries, tree nettles, lophomyrtus, five fingers...
2010. Port Levy Saddle view of Upper Kaituna Valley, Lake Ellesmere, Kaitorete Spit, Pacific
2010. Weathered Totara Stumps, Port Levy Saddle
2010. Totara Stumps & Regenerating Totaras, Port Levy Saddle
2010. Totara Ghosts, Port Levy Saddle
2010. Monument Track view of Upper Kaituna Valley, Lake Ellesmere, Kaitorete Spit, Pacific
2010. Monument Track view of Clear Felled Podocarp Forest & Regeneration. Kaituna Spur backdrop
2010. Tree Fuchsia growing out of a Totata Stump, Monument Track
Above the yellow farmhouse again, bush was less disturbed with bigger trees: sophoras, ribbonwoods, totoras, olearias... I passed a big kahikatea white pine with gnarled roots growing across Monument Track, a monument to conservation of sorts, as exotic macrocarpas and pines grew across the valley.
2010. Bush Regeneration, Monument Track, Port Levy Saddle
2010. Clear Felled Podocarp Forest & Bush Regeneration in hollows, Port Levy Saddle
2010. Five Finger, Pseudopanax arboreus & Fruit, Monument Track
2010. Monument Track view of Bush Regeneration, Port Levy Saddle & Kaituna Spur
2010. Monument Track view of Farm House at end of Kaituna Valley Road
Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.
See Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust
See Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere: State of the Lake and Future Management (Lincoln University, Environment Canterbury)