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Nikau Palm Gully, Canterbury

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Nikau Palm GullyBeginner - Intermediate

Submitted by Zeinab Chegini

Info Info
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Trail Information







Front country - easily accessible

Out and Back

Undulating, small hills only

Native bush
Open farmlands
Open ridges/tops

Beginner - Intermediate

3:00 (Slow)
2:15 (Moderate)
1:30 (Fast)



The track is closed during Winter months (August-October). This track crosses private land and you must obtain permission to access it. Contact Onuku Farm Hostel beforehand.

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Once you arrive at Onuku Farm Hostel, start from the gate sign posted "Reserve Track" on the left of the red shed. Run through open farmland with views of the Akaroa harbour.

In summer you can enjoy views of the abundant kanuka blossoms. The track is well-formed and marked and is quite wide.

At about 2km in, farmland gives way to kanuka bush. At the 3km point, the track splits, follow the sign for the Nikau Palm Gully (the track on the left is the private Banks Peninsula Track). At about the 5km point the track turns into a steeper single track through native bush which can get quite slippery after some rain. Poles would be quite useful here.

After a few hundred metres continue down some steep stairs, cross the stream and look for the track marker on the other side. From here continue following the track markers. After a few hundred metres the track goes over a waterfall above a sheer cliff.

Enjoy views of the gully and the palms before heading back the same way.

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Features of interest

The track runs along coastal cliffs with beautiful views of the Akaroa harbour, and ends in Nīkau Palm Gully.

From the DOC website: "The size and number of Nīkau palms in the reserve makes this one of the best coastal forest remnants in Canterbury. The nīkau is the only palm tree endemic to New Zealand and this is the southern-most extent of nīkau palms on the east coast of the South Island. The dark volcanic cliffs which soak up the heat of the sun and the mild maritime climate keep the palms frost free. Nīkau palms are slow-growing and can take up to two hundred years to reach their maximum height of 10 to 15 metres."

Make Up of Run

Moderate Single Track: 10%

Farm Road / 4WD Track: 90%

Route Data


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  • Access

    Next to red shed there is a gate and a sign that reads "Reserve Track".

    Park at the small signposted DOC parking site on the main Rd and walk about 300m to the beginning of the track. Do not park on the farm premises.

    223 km

    188 minutes


    Name: Onkuku Farm Hostel
    Telephone: +64 22 025 0706

  • Staying Safe


    Once in the gully, look out for the track markers and keep to the track.

    Very patchy.

    Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map.

    There is no drinking water available on this track. There are a few streams but they run through farmland.

    Some parts of the track can be very slippery after rain. The track runs along coastal cliffs so can be exposed to strong winds and sun.

    The track runs along some steep cliffs (albeit mostly fenced) so don't veer off the track.

  • Post run indulgence

    Akaroa Fish and Chips
    59 Beach Rd
    Great spot for a classic F&C feed.

    The Little Bistro
    33 Rue Lavaud
    Amazing food and great spot if you're looking for something special in Akaroa.

  • Blog Posts and Articles
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