Peninsula Explorer

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Route Overview

General Overview
The Peninsula Explorer Expedition utilises the best gravel roads possible to circumnavigate Banks Peninsula in a full day/2 trip. It is a great option to soak up the best sights and gravel tracks that the Peninsula offers.
If time permits, it is recommended to break the expedition into two days and camp overnight at an idyllic bay.

A bit of history.....
Captain Cook of the Endeavour who mapped New Zealand did a remarkably accurate job however Banks Island was one of two mistakes made in his mapping. Cook though this land mass was an island and named it "Banks Island" after the Endeavour's onboard botanist named Joseph Banks.

The mistake was not realised until 1809, when Captain S. Chase of the Pegasus tried to sail between the "island" and the mainland and couldn't! The island was reclassified as a peninsula and renamed Banks Peninsula.
Start/Finish Point
While this route can be driven in either direction, it is best driven starting with leg 1 which departs from Halswell and then ends up in Christchurch at the foot of the Port Hills, Cashmere.
Terrain includes
A mixture of gravel and tarmac with the aim to include as many interesting gravel roads as possible. The majority of the gravel roads are grade 1 and grade 2.

Note: On leg 1, there is one small 100 meter grade 3 section of loose gravel to cross the Lake Forsyth Causeway. The difficulty of this section will vary depending on the changing conditions and recent vehicle use. If you prefer not to cross the causeway, a small detour detailed in the leg 1 info panel will keep the entire route to a maximum of grade 2. It is however recommended to cross the causeway as the climb up immediately after offers spectacular views out over Birdlings Flat and Lake Ellesmere.

For more information on crossing the Lake Forsyth Causeway there are links under the Lake Forsyth Causeway photos on leg 1.
Total distance is 235 km
Max Fuel Leg
135 km
Drive time
Due to the winding gravel terrain the average speed works out around 30 kmph meaning a drive time for the full route of approximately 8.5 hours.

Taking into account stopping at lookouts, having a bite to eat etc ideally you'll want to plan around a whole day as it is surprising how long it takes to cover a mere 235 km.
Access Permission
All routes within this Expedition are on publicly accessible roads/tracks so access permission is not required.
Access Limitations
Other than the Lake Forsyth Causeway which can be periodically opened to drain Lake Forsyth, the routes within this Expedition are not normally subject to access limitations that present a showstopper. At some points it is possible to experience farming operations such as stock movement which may delay progress plus it is feasible to encounter roadworks which may require you to take a detour.

This Expedition can be driven in any season but it is highly recommended to drive this on a clear blue sky day with good visibility. The sights along this route are outstanding and it is a shame to have them limited by low cloud or fog, planning around pockets of good weather will make all the difference.

Legs in this Expedition

Leg 1 <span>(18 photos)</span>
Leg 1 (18 photos)
Leg 2 <span>(14 photos)</span>
Leg 2 (14 photos)
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