On 6th March 2006, Banks Peninsula came under the care of the C.C.C.
Due to the abundance of food provided by the forests, rivers, sea and skies, Banks Peninsula was known to the Maori as Te Pataka o Rakaihautu – the storehouse of Rakaihautu [Chief of Uruao]. Formed between eight and eleven million years ago, two volcanoes erupted out of the sea – their craters now forming the Lyttelton and Akaroa Harbours.
Captain James Cook first spotted Banks Peninsula on 17th February 1770, mistaking it for an island. He wrote that the land was “…of a circular figure…very broken uneven surface and [having] more the appearance of barrenness than fertility”. It was Cook that gave the peninsula the name of Banks, honouring his on-board botanist, Joseph Banks.
In the 1830’s, whaling stations began to pop up around the peninsula’s shorelines. European, American and Australian whaling boats and other vessels began to be seen in our waters. Many deserted their posts to disappear into the remoteness on offer.
By 1840, it was roughly guessed that Banks Peninsula had at least 90 permanent Europeans residents.
Those numbers rose with the arrival of French and German settlers on the ‘Compte de Paris’ at Akaroa on 18th August 1840. Akaroa was not the only popular landing spot; Koukorarata in Lyttelton Harbour had always been busy as the Maori settled there were always keen to trade. By the late 1830’s, Koukorarata was known as Port Levey, now spelled Port Levy.
The port had been named by Captain William Barnard Rhodes after one of his Australian employers, ex-convict merchant Solomon Levey. The Canterbury Association unsuccessfully renamed Port Levy to Port Albert in 1849.
Today, over 7500 Cantabs call Banks Peninsula home. Mt Herbert is the highest peak.
* Image courtesy of the Christchurch City Council – http://www.ccc.govt.nz/*