When the Maori first arrived at Banks Peninsula most of the area was forested. Tussock grassland and ti tree scrub occupied only the most exposed areas. The flood plains and valley bottoms were covered in podocarp forest, mainly totara, matai and kahikatea, along with a mixture of hardwoods. Higher up the hills hardwoods such as lacebark, ribbonwood, tikoki and kowhai became more common and the podocarp's diminished.
When the European colonists arrived 70 percent of the area was still covered in forest. From then on, the devastation of the forest was rapid. From the time the first sawmill was setup in Robinsons Bay, at the head of Akaroa Harbour, in 1854 until the early 1880's nearly all the commercial timber had been cut, and most of the remaining forest had been burnt to make agricultural land.
This is a view of the Gondola Terminus and car park as seen from the Bridle Path.