The land comprising Misty Peaks was acquired as a scenic reserve subject to the Reserves Act 1977 for the purpose of a new regional park in 2007.
The reserve management plan for the park was approved as the operative plan by the Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū/Banks Peninsula Community Board on 15 April 2019.
Most of a former farm that was earlier Mt Desmond Station. Comprises sixteen parcels of land making up 489 hectares and rising to just under 800 metres above the shore line at Akaroa.
It contains a wide range of habitats - from lowland podocarp forest and beech remnants to sub-alpine snow tussock and unique rocky outcrop flora, and provides much scope for both recreation and biodiversity opportunities to be realised.
Access to the park is by way of three gravel roads. Aylmers Valley Road provides access to the lower portions, and Stony Bay and Lighthouse Roads to the highest elevations.
The park adjoins the privately owned 1,200 hectare Hinewai Reserve, surrounds Armstrong Reserve and is close to Tutakakahikura Scenic Reserve, the latter two administered and managed by the Department of Conservation.
Misty Peaks Reserve is situated on the route to the Akaroa Heads lighthouse reserve, Flea Bay marine reserve and Banks Peninsula’s largest penguin colony.
The name Misty Peaks is derived from an old Māori name for the Brasenose/Flag Peak area - Ōteauheke, which translates as ‘the place where the mist comes down’.
The park provides a picturesque background to Akaroa. It is covered with a mixture of steep shrub (regenerating native and exotic) and tussock land, bushed gullies and pasture descending into the Aylmers Valley Stream.
Most of the stream corridors are wooded with a mixture of indigenous trees. A prominent block of pines spans the upper part of the crater rim, in part on the skyline.
The south-eastern side of the park is heavily shrub covered and with a mixture of gorse, regenerating bush and small blocks of old growth red beech forest. The high tops are mostly clothed with snow tussock and regenerating indigenous montane forest.
Aylmers Valley on the harbour/Akaroa side of the park contains an attractive boulder stream that runs all year. It has a notable waterfall (Newtons Waterfall).
Recreation wise, the park’s proximity to Akaroa makes it especially useful for recreation. A range of opportunities are present with walking the most prevalent. The waterfall in the Aylmers Valley was a popular Akaroa walking destination in the early part of last century and still is today.
The park contains six plant species that are on the New Zealand threatened plant list and nine species that are rare or uncommon on Banks Peninsula/Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū. Twenty native birds have been recorded in the area, all five peninsula lizards are likely to be present and the Banded Kokopu fish has been noted in the streams.