Tumbledown Bay and Te Oka Bay, Banks Peninsula
The most famous spot on Banks Peninsula is surely Akaroa, but did you know there’s a great beach and stunning coastal views on the southern side of the Peninsula? Tumbledown Bay (and Te Oka Bay, which is right next door) is a bit of a detour from the main Christchurch to Akaroa road but it’s well worth braving the winding gravel roads.
Getting to Tumbledown Bay
The drive to Tumbledown Bay, and then on to Te Oka Bay, is the highlight. There are some awesome views along the way, but the road can be a little scary. It’s narrow and steep in parts. Luckily, I didn’t see any other vehicles (I visited on a Monday morning in August — not exactly peak time) but you’ll need to be extra careful at busier times. From Little River turn right at the sign that says “Southern Bays” and keep following the signs. Little River is home to a unique accommodation option – SiloStay. Big grey silos have been turned into hotel rooms and it looks pretty awesome – check it out if you’re spending a night or two on Banks Peninsula.
The views back down the valley are nice, and you’ll soon come to a road that heads straight downhill toward Tumbledown Bay (Te Oka Bay Road). There’s a fork in the road — keep going straight down the hill. This is when the views get really impressive, and they continue all the way down. There aren’t many places to stop so take advantage of the opportunities when you see them. There is also a walking track which goes down there, which starts just before the turnoff. I’m not sure if there’s much point walking when you could be driving but it’s always an option (let me know if you’ve done it in the comments below).
As you get closer to sea level, you’ll see Tumbledown Bay in all its glory. The milky blue water and green headlands contrast nicely with the black sand — these are easily some of my favourite Banks Peninsula views. It’ll take you around 75 minutes to drive from Christchurch to Tumbledown Bay and another 5 – 10 minutes from there to Te Oka Bay.
Tumbledown Bay looks better from above, but it’s worth walking along the short farm track to the beach. It’s muddy though so wear good shoes! I visited at low tide and the beach was a little rough / not that photogenic.
Driving to Te Oka Bay
It’s a good idea to continue driving to Te Oka Bay. You’ll get more great views of Tumbledown Bay from the other side and Te Oka Bay looks nice from the road above it. It’s nothing special at beach level but you can’t argue with those views! From there you’ll need to head back the way you came. At the top of the hill you can go back down to Little River or take Bossu Road to Anchorage Bay and Wainui. From there I’m guessing you’ll be heading to Akaroa — it’s a cool place and I’ll be writing lots more about it in the near future.
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