Montgomery Park Scenic Reserve
Montgomery Park is a pocket of remnant Banks Peninsula forest sheltering under a long volcanic escarpment just off the road to Akaroa. If you are visiting Akaroa, Montgomery Park is well worth the stop, offering a very short walk to a very big tree and a longer walk to dramatic views.
On the road to Akaroa, turn left at Hilltop (by the tavern) onto the Summit Road. A small roadside car park is located a few hundred metres along by a sign. In past times, an array of tracks cris-crossed the park, which was "enhanced" with New Zealand trees from other areas, including rimu and all five species of beech (none of which are native to this reserve). Today, the beeches are still visible near the entrance, although all but one of the tracks have been closed, leaving a single route through the forest.
A brief zigzag leads onto a forested shelf harbouring some massive trees including five finger, broadleaf, mahoe, fuchsia, and matai. The biggest of them all is just five minutes along: a lowland totara with a split trunk. This tree is 8.5 metres in girth and up to 2000 years old.
If you continue, the track gently climbs to the northeast. Soon, it breaks into the open and passes some tall burned-out tree trunks, skeletons from European fires. The hillsides around here are littered with the silvering carcasses of trees. The rocky track bends into a narrow fuchsia chute at a gap in the escarpment and climbs quite easily onto exposed tops. The land here at the top of the cliff was once forested but now shines with silver stumps and affords good, vertiginous views into the crater of Akaroa Harbour.
This track is actually the beginning of the Summit Road Walkway which continues off to the right, roughly following the course of the surveyed (but never built) section of the Summit Road to Gebbies Pass. If you follow the markers for a few minutes onto the informally named "Rocky Peak" you are rewarded with views down into Pigeon Bay on the northern side of the Peninsula, as well as Lake Forsyth to the southwest and Akaroa Harbour to the southeast.
NathanaelB Good write-up, thanks. Was useful - I did the trail today:
10 April 2011
Taranaki I am thinking about coming down to the South Island next year and I have printed this article out to keep as a reference, thanks
8 August 2004