Mount Herbert

Mount Herbert

Mount Herbert is the largest mountain on Banks Peninsula sitting at 919m above sea level. It’s homage to a network of trails that spread from the summit and along the peninsula. Approaching from the east there is a slightly smaller mountain, coined Little Mount Herbert (pt 913). From the summit there are views out out over Lyttleton Harbour, the city of Christchurch, Lake Ellesmere and the Canterbury Plains. On a good day you can make out the Kaikoura Peninsula from the summit. Being the highest point on the peninsula, the trails along the ridge are often subject to strong winds and can be bitterly cold even in the heights of summer. Ensure you pack plenty of layers as the wind blows fiercely across the ridge line. Mount Herbert’s proximity to Christchurch makes it an attractive backcountry hike.

Shadows creeping up Little Mt Herbert at sunset| Adil David

43°41′26″S 172°45′43″E

In Detail

There are many different routes that can be taken to reach the summit of Mount Herbert. At one stage or another, many of these tracks connect with Te Ara Pataka (The Summit Walkway). Detailed below are approaches from Kaituna Valley, Port Levy Saddle and via The Monument. Each of the track vary slightly in difficulty. The easiest approach being from Port Levy Saddle and the hardest from Kaituna Valley. Between the 8th August and 15th October each year unfortunately all of the tracks are be closed due to lambing and the tracks crossing farmland where both sheep and cattle graze throughout the year. During these times it is still possible to walk the Kaituna Valley Packhorse Hut Track. Unfortunately all other tracks in the area are closed during the winter/spring season due to lambing.

Looking out over Kaituna Valley as the sun sets | Thomas James

Mount Herbert Overview

As shown on the map below there are several different routes to reach the summit of Mount Herbert. Some alternative routes that are missing from this blog post and will later be added after they have been documented. The easiest of the routes is to start from Port Levy Saddle and make your way along the tops of the hills to reach the summit of Mount Herbert. The hardest is likely to be the hike in from Kaituna Valley. Each of the hikes takes you through farmland with regenerating native bush coming back in places. If you naturally have a tendency to get hay fever during spring and early summer ensure you carry medication with you. There’s a hefty amount of long grass that could get you into a sneezing fit.

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Mount Herbert Weather

Weather around Mount Herbert can be changeable due to the mountains exposed nature and the geography of the area. Strong winds can quickly bring in low cloud with little visibility making the walk bitterly cold and slow at times. Be prepared for a wide range of weather conditions and always pack a good wind breaker. Often low cloud can be seen hanging around the peninsula making often for some of the most beautiful conditions that I’ve ever seen for sunset. If you’re willing to be out later in the evening Mount Herbert can be a beautiful spot for sunset.

Shelter & Accommodation near Mount Herbert

Unfortunately DOC does not allow camping along the network of Banks Peninsula tracks with camping permitted only at Packhorse Hut. If you are wanting to turn one (or more) of these trails into a loop or a crossing there is bookable accommodation at Packhorse Hut and Rod Donald Hut. Otherwise along your walk Mount Herbert Shelter is a great stopping point to rest, take shelter from the elements and enjoy your surroundings.

Looking through a haze of clouds at Mount Herbert Shelter after descending from the summit

Mount Herbert Shelter

Just below the summit of Mount Herbert is Mount Herbert Shelter. It’s a 3 walled building that provides significant protection from the wind and a lovely place to sit and eat while taking cover from the elements. The shelter has a toilet behind it and a water tank which stores rain water that is collected from the roof. A picnic table is bolted down in the middle of the shelter and benched seats are fitted around the inside perimeter of the shelter for you to sit and rest your legs. From the summit it is approximately a ten minute walk down and heading back up can take around fifteen minutes to reach the summit from the shelter.


0 Bunks


Water Tank, Toilet



Top: ‘The Little Room’ standing solitary amongst the clouds
Looking out from Mount Herbert Shelter towards Mount Bradley

Mount Herbert via The Monument

The Monument Track North is an approach to the summit of Mount Herbert from Purau Saddle. The track gives exceptional views out over Lyttleton Harbour on a clear day as the track works its way from the base of the Monument up towards Little Mount Herbert before traversing across to Mount Herbert. It’s the middle ground between the two other tracks described in this post with some elevation gain covered during the drive but mostly done throughout the walk. The track takes you past an old hut coined ‘YHA’ which you can take a look inside. Of all the tracks if you’re after seeing some farm animals, The Monument track by far has the most grazing along the hike.


2h 15m


6.32 km


621 m



In between clouds as we make our way further up towards the summit of

Getting There

From Christchurch depending where you are located you will need to cross over the Port Hills either via Dyers Pass or through the Lyttleton tunnel (SH74). From Govenors Bay follow the main road to Diamond Harbour which transitions between Govenors Bay Teddington Road, Charteris Bay Road and Marine Drive. Take the main road right through Diamond Harbour and follow the road along Purau Ave turning right onto Purau Port Levy Road. The Monument North Track track begins just before the saddle point in the road between Purau and Port Levy and will be on your right from Purau.

Monument Track Route

The Monument Track North begins on Purau-Port Levy Road from a small gravel park where you’ll find a stile to cross. It takes a slight dip to reach a small hut known as the YHA before following a farm track around the rock known as The Monument. From the YHA onward it is a steady incline all the way up towards the saddle between Little Mount Herbert and Mount Herbert. The track is easy to follow and well cut through the long grass almost being wide enough to be a vehicle track right the way up. From the connector track to the summit of Mount Herbert follow Te Ara Pataka and you’ll be on the summit of Mount Herbert in no time.

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YHA & the beginning

The journey up towards Mount Herbert begins from the Purau Saddle carpark, a small gravel patch on the side of the windy road. A hop across the stile and you’ll be faced with the large DOC sign seen below. From having a read it should take you around two and half hours to reach the summit of Mount Herbert, two hours to reach Little Mount Herbert. You’ll climb a small knoll before descending down towards a small hut known that has painted on the door YHA. You can enter the small dwelling although it is quite musty and wouldn’t be a desirable place to spend a lot of time in.

Top: The signpost close to the carpark at the start of the track up to Te Ara Pataka
The YHA standing in the paddock while the track leads up and around The Monument

Climb to Little Mount Herbert

The climb begins as soon as you leave the YHA and doesn’t stop until you reach the saddle between Little Mount Herbert and Mount Herbert. The track is mostly grassed farm track mostly wide enough to walk two abreast. There is a large number of sheep that populate this side of the mountain. At the time of walking the track many would lead along the track and be eating away at the long grass. As you climb you’ll get good views back to the road and Lyttelton Harbour along the way. Just be aware that you’re shoes are almost guaranteed to have some amount of sheep poo on the bottom of them by the time you make it back to the car.

Top: Cloud hovering just above the hilltops giving a slight peek out over Lyttleton Harbour
Bottom Left:
Looking along the stretch of trail as it disappears into the clouds a sheep has a look
Bottom Right:
A sheep poking his head out along the track as the trail leads around a bend

Traverse to Mount Herbert

After about 2 hours of walking you should eventually reach the saddle start of the traverse between Little Mount Herbert and Mount Herbert. There are a few different junction around this area. Be sure you take the middle of the three way forked intersection. The track should climb a reasonable amount towards the summit before joining with Te Ara Pataka. From here the walking mellows out a lot however the area is usually very exposed to wind and will howl across the tops. The tracks are relatively well marked so keep an eye out for any DOC information boards along the way.

Top: A number of sheep grazing in the paddock whilst the cloud surrounds them
Middle: A small DOC sign near the summit of Little Mount Herbert
Looking across the traverse between the two mountains

Mount Herbert Shelter

From the summit of Mount Herbert there’s a steep descent to start off and then a casual extended walk to make it to Mount Herbert Shelter. After a short steep descent you’ll be faced with a T intersection. One route takes you down to Diamond Harbour whilst the other will take you along Te Ara Pataka and into Mount Herbert Shelter. It’s difficult to stray from the track once you’re on it. The defined two pathways of a vehicle are distinctly marked for most of the way. The shelter has a toilet and rain water tank if you find that you’ve completely run out on a hot summers day.

Top Left: Looking past a number of poled markers stretching into the distance
Top Right:
Looking down Te Ara Pataka towards the shelter as the sun sets
Looking back from Mount Herbert Shelter towards the summit of Mount Herbert

Mount Hebert via Kaituna Valley

Mount Herbert from Kaituna Valley is one of the most physically demanding approaches to reach the summit of Mount Herbert. It begins from Kaituna Valley and climbs right up to the ridge line that makes up the backbone of Banks Peninsula. Getting up amongst the farmland when you break out from the bush to the grass you’ll likely encounter a few wooly sheep. Where the trail meets Te Ara Pataka (the summit walkway) there are some iconic dead trees that are sit up along the walkway. The track makes up the other half of the Monument Track mentioned earlier in this post. Linking up with the Monument Track North it can be done as a separate traverse.


2 h 30 m




872 m



Asher looking out over Kaituna Valley as the cloud passes over Little Mount Herbert, and Mount Herbert in the background

Getting There

From Christchurch find your way onto State Highway 75 (SH75) out towards Akaroa. Follow the road through Halswell, past Tai Tapu, Motukarara until you reach a small turn off at Ataahua marked by a large road sign. Follow Kaituna Valley Road right the way until you reach the end of the public road. There is a small parking space in the grass with a DOC information board to mark the start of the track. Park here and begin the walk through the public easement through the working farm at the end of Kaituna Valley Road.


The track from Kaituna Valley begins by going through a working farm through a public easement and then follows a bush covered stream for a small while before beginning the long slog up the hill towards the summit walkway. There is a junction early on in the track, ensure that you pass through the gate and turn right here. Almost the entire track up to Te Ara Pataka is all vehicle track, easily wide enough for people to walk to abreast. The track climbs significantly through the valley. Once you reach the summit walkway head nor-west from here (or turn left) and follow the tops along to the summit of Mount Herbert. You should come across a couple of small DOC signs along the way.

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Climb to Te Ara Pataka

The journey up Mount Herbert begins at the end of Kaituna Valley Road. You’ll find yourself following the Kaituna River for a start under a small bit of bush cover for a start. The climbing starts out soon after you take a right turn at your first junction and you pass through a gate. There is a little bush that covers parts of this section but is wide enough that a farm vehicle could drive these parts. In places along the track there can be a good helping of mud across the streams and in other spots along the track. A walking stick or walking pole can be extremely helpful in these situations. The closer you get to the track the more solid the track becomes along with the likelihood of encountering sheep. Ensure you take a moment to stop and appreciate how far you’ve climbed.

Left: Looking back down the track towards Kaituna Valley and the surrounding area
Looking towards the wind swept trees along Te Ara Pataka a part of the Summit Walkway

Heading towards Mount Herbert the track climbs steadily yet steeply up to Little Mount Herbert. The trail winding mostly is cut through the long grass that is grazed by sheep and cattle in the area. Take your time along this section of the track. It’s likely to be the most difficult part of the hike after a big slog up to Te Ara Pataka (the summit walkways). Keep an eye out for the volcanic rocks that are dotted along the track that hide amongst the long grass.

Top: Asher grinding out the up hill battle towards the summit of Little Mount Herbert
Admiring the dispersing clouds as they move across the sky and around the mountain tops

Little Mount Herbert

This area of the walk is also one of the best spots on a semi-cloudy day to watch the sun set as it dips over the West Coast. The giant fireball lights up many of the clouds in one of the most spectacular fashion, especially when they are inter dispersed around the mountain floating low and peacefully on a foggy day around Banks Peninsula. Sometimes on a day when there is very low cloud you can get a beautiful inversion layer across Lyttleton Harbour and Christchurch.

Top: The sun setting in the distance as it begins to dip below one of the ridges coming off Mount Herbert
Asher pausing for a moment as the giant ball of light known as the sun dips below the mountain

From the summit of Little Mount Herbert the track is relatively easy to follow with plenty of cowpat to dodge along the way. Over this section of the track the wind can end up being strong and gusty even when you make think the day is quite calm. Take you’re time and duck behind rocks if you feel the need to get some shelter. Fortunately between Mount Herbert and Little Mount Herbert there isn’t too much change in elevation so it’s a pretty smooth walk between the two summits.

Looking down upon Mount Evans from Mount Herbert through the rolling clouds at sunset

Mount Herbert via Port Levy Saddle

Mount Herbert via Port Levy Saddle is the easiest way to reach the summit of Mount Herbert. Beginning from the Port Levy Saddle much of the climbing is done from the drive up to the top of the road. From the saddle you’ll find yourself following the backbone of Banks Peninsula over a few rolling hills with magnificent views along the way. If you’re after some stunning views without having the base level fitness, Mount Herbert via Port Levy is a great option. The section above Kaituna Valley has to be one of the best spots in Canterbury to catch an east coast sunset.


1 h 45m


6.32 km


394 m





Watching the sun set out over Kaituna Valley and Birdlings Flat while resting on an iconic dead tree | Adil David

Getting There

From Christchurch find your way onto State Highway 75 (SH75) out towards Akaroa. Follow the road through Halswell, past Tai Tapu, Motukarara until you reach the small town of Little River. Just as you start to make a bend towards the right (coming from Christchurch) take a left off SH75 and follow Western Valley Road. Soon after you follow it down the road you will come to a fork, take a right and continue following Western Valley Road, this road climbs all the way to Port Levy Saddle but is gravelled for most of the climb. There are some sections that have become rutted but are manageable in a two wheel drive car.


The track to Mount Herbert from Port Levy Saddle follows Te Ara Pataka (The Summit Walkway) for the entire length of the walk. Starting at ~670m it means there is little elevation that you are required to gain throughout the entire walk making it the easiest option to reach Mount Herbert of them all. The track is well cut with there being enough room to walk two abreast for much of the walk. The walk follows the same route as the route described from Kaituna Valley from just below to the summit of pt761.

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Te Ara Pataka

The walk towards Mt Herbert begins with a mellow walk through some regenerating farmland around the tops of the long extinct volcano. It’s a great way to start off the hike to warm up the legs and start to progress along the tops. There are a couple of stiles that you’ll have to cross along the way and it’s likely that you’ll see some sheep along you’re way. Both to the the north and the south there are spectacular views out over the valley and out to sea.

Top Left: Looking down along the track as it winds it way through the long grass | Adil David
Middle Left:
Looking down another one of the many valleys extending down from Banks Peninsula | Adil David
Middle Right:
Looking out over Port Levy the Kaikoura Ranges in the distance | Adil David

There are a few rolling in between the Port Levy Saddle carpark and climb to Little Mount Herbert but they are never a strenuous climb. Many are just small inclines along the hill that lead up towards the summit of Little Mount Herbert. Each of them have a reasonably well carved track into the mountain from where many footsteps have walked.

Top: Looking out over Port levy and out towards the Kaikoura Ranges in the distance | Thomas James
: Adil and Nathan making their way up along Te Ara Pataka (The Summit Walkway) | Thomas James

Kaituna Valley

When you begin looking out over Kaituna Valley you’ll start to climb significantly more during this section compared to the mellow rolling hills that you previously may have gotten accustomed to. There is an iconic patch of dead trees that sit amongst the rolling tussock hills that make the section spooky in the evening. The wind blown trees were a great spot for a quick photo shoot, especially around sunset, the sun streaks across the valley giving off a warm glow. Grab a little food to prepare for the next section, the climb to the summit of Little Mount Herbert can be a bit of a grind.

Top: Nathan (the Author) making his way along to the iconic dead tree along Te Ara Pataka | Thomas James
The sun dipping below the clouds for a short while creating and almighty glow over Kaituna Valley | Adil David
At the turn off between The Monument track and Te Ara Pataka up to the summit of Little Mount Herbert | Thomas James

Mount Herbert

Following the same route as previously mentioned in the route from The Monument Track (North & South) the track leads to the summit of Mount Herbert following the same track as outlined. In the evening ensure that you carry a good head torch to ensure that you don’t stumble upon on of the many rocks situated around the summit of Mount Herbert.

Looking out over Lyttelton Harbour at sun down, the city of Christchurch in the distance