Mount Herbert is the highest point on Banks Peninsula, at 919 metres. Looking for new things to do around Christchurch, we gave the summit track a go.
Mount Herbert is a 5-hour hike, suitable for tourists or locals alike. You can do it without a car, as long as you can catch the bus to Lyttleton.
If you plan to do the Mount Herbert track on a Saturday, check out the Lyttelton farmers market, both for breakfast and to get some lunch to take with you. You will want some food and a few litres of water per person.
From Lyttleton, take the ferry across to Diamond Harbour, where you can start the walk right from the wharf. And of course, you’ll be able to catch the ferry and bus back, as long as you are within the available times. Check here for the timetable.
After the 10 or so minute ferry ride, we arrived at the wharf and headed up the road about 100 metres, before spotting a dirt road that follows the water around to the right.
Weather and Footwear
As you can tell by the blue sky in the photos, we got pretty lucky with the weather. We did this in mid-May, so while it’s starting to get pretty cold you can still experience these amazing mild Canterbury autumn days. Most of the reading you can do about Mount Herbert track is how hot the walk can get in summer. It’s because most of the walk is sheltered from the prevailing wind.
In terms of footwear, it’s about at this point in the track it starts to get muddy. Sneakers would probably be fine but don’t expect to keep them clean. I have a pair of Skellerup boots that are mostly waterproof. Apart from getting some mad blisters, as I haven’t worn them in yet, they do a pretty good job.
Finding the Mount Herbert track
It turns out there are around three or four different ways of getting to the starting point for the Mount Herbert track. The first track that we took was about 600 metres long, and we ended up coming back onto the main road. Oops!
Luckily, we ran into a local named Penny who confirmed we were going in the right direction. Penny and her husband are from Christchurch, but retreat to Diamond Harbour on the weekends.
Anyway, we walked to the end of the street and came to a farm gate. From there, you’ll see a slight track across the paddock. Once you’ve reached the far end gate, go through it and head down to the left on the gravel road.
After 100 metres you’ll get to the start of the Mt Herbert track!
If I were to do it again, I would continue up the road to the cafe (past the track to the right) and continue on past the dairy following the road. You’ll eventually come to the signpost for the Mount Herbert track after about 400 metres.
On the Mount Herbert Summit Track
The track isn’t like your normal native bush walk where you’ll encounter fresh mountain streams and beech trees. It’s an actual working farm with cows, sheep and horses. So, it’s closed between 1st August-16th October due to lambing.
The advantage to this is that the track is mostly easy-going, just enough to get a sweat on. The DOC website says the return trip will take between 5-6 hours, which is conservative.
It took us around 2.5 hours to get to the top from when we arrived at the ferry and 2 hours to get back to the dairy. We were pretty hot the entire trip up, as it’s pretty sheltered from the wind.
In summer, you’d need lots of water, and also plenty of sunscreen.
Although it’s only 919 metres above sea level, Mount Herbert’s summit is pretty exposed to the wind at the top. There were some pretty nice 360 degree views all around. We hung around at the top for around 20 minutes then started to make our way down.
Back down for ice cream and a sunset
There weren’t many others doing the track. We probably encountered about 10 people the entire trip. Arriving back at the dairy we had some ice cream while we waited for the ferry.
It’s a really nice area with a nice walk along the path down to the harbour from the dairy. If you can, hang around for the sunset.
The Mount Herbert track is definitely worth doing if you’re looking for a day trip in Christchurch. Remember to check the weather reports via your CamperMate app, take clothing options, sunscreen, and plenty of water!