The Walks/Blog

Harry Ells Track & Sugarloaf Circuit, Port Hills, Canterbury NZ

An easygoing walk in the Port Hills, taking you from the edge of town up to the Crater Rim on the Harry Ells Track, then around the Sugarloaf Circuit with good views over Govenors Bay and the Canterbury Plains.

This is one combination of many possible walks in the Port Hills on the outskirts of Christchurch. This one takes you from the edge of town in Cashmere Hills to the Crater Rim through regenerating bush, then on the Sugarloaf Circuit with views over Governors Bay to the east, and the Canterbury Plains and Christchurch to the west. You could have food and coffee at one of the historic cafes at either end of the Harry Ells Track: Sign of the Takahe and Sign of the Kiwi. Continue reading “Harry Ells Track & Sugarloaf Circuit, Port Hills, Canterbury NZ”

Steepface Hill ascent, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

Really excellent views over the braided Rakaia River and countless mountains on this big ascent up Steepface Hill (1876m) in Hakatere Conservation Park.

Since moving to Canterbury (NZ) in Autumn 2020 I’d had my eyes on Mt Hutt (2185m), the high point of a prominent mountain range bordering the Rakaia River. This would be a big walk with limited winter daylight hours, so a good plan B was to first climb a peak at the northern end of this range, Steepface Hill (1876m): a 1500m vertical climb over just four kilometres, and the only ridge on the route up is mostly flat. It’s all in the name! It’s not all about the steepness though, because the views of the Rakaia River and countless surrounding peaks were just fabulous. Also very cool was Terrible Gully at the start, a rather jagged waterway cut out of the hillside. Continue reading “Steepface Hill ascent, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”

Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest, Canterbury NZ

A 1000m climb through a variety of native vegetation takes you to the summit of Little Mt Peel (1311m) with great views of the Canterbury Plains & surrounding mountains.

One of Canterbury’s more popular walks, climbing Little Mt Peel takes you 1000m up through a variety of vegetation types, including podocarp and broad leaf rainforest with a variety of ferns, then native bush, and finally into heath and tussock. The views from the summit are very good, including the Canterbury Plains to the east, and various hills and mountains in all other directions. Continue reading “Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Bruce Circuit, Craigieburn Forest Park, Canterbury NZ

Top class 360 degree views of numerous mountain ranges and the Waimakariri Valley from the summit of Mt Bruce (1630m) in Craigieburn Forest Park.

I’d heard good things about the views from Mt Bruce (1630m) in Craigieburn Forest Park, and I was not at all disappointed! Spectacular 360 degree views await you at the summit, but there’s plenty of interest for much of the walk. There’s nice forest at the start, already good views on the tracked section, then ever improving views as you climb to the summit.

From the summit you overlook big-ass mountains in the the Southern Alps, numerous peaks around Arthur’s Pass, the wide open Waimakariri River Valley, and colourful patchy mountains of scree, tussock and forest elsewhere in Craigieburn Forest Park. You can also see the long thin forms of Blind Spur and Bealey Spur, the latter offering another good walk in the area that we have on our to-do list. Making a loop by returning eastward along an attractive ridge will top it all off. Continue reading “Mt Bruce Circuit, Craigieburn Forest Park, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Harper Circuit, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

This circuit walk up Mt Harper (1829m) offers wide open views of the Ashburton Lakes District & the Rangitata River, with the Southern Alps providing the backdrop.

With a forecast of cloudy weather to the north and west of Canterbury this walk up Mt Harper (1829m) in the Ashburton Lakes District was a plan B. It turned out to be one of the best walks we’ve done, with fabulous views in all directions. There’s variety in the views as well, with rugged snowy peaks, lumpier mountains, wide plains punctuated with shallow lakes, and the Rangitata River Valley. The overall impression is of remoteness, which I always like on a walk. Continue reading “Mt Harper Circuit, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Richardson Loop, Mount Thomas Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ

A pleasant loop through beech (tawhai) forest to the top of Mt Richardson (1047m), where there are good views over the Puketeraki Range and other nearby peaks.

Mt Richardson (1047m) is one of four modestly sized mountains that can be climbed, about one hour’s drive north-west of Christchurch. The others are Mt Oxford (which we’ve done), and Mounts Thomas and Grey to the east. It’s a pleasant if not spectacular walk through mostly beech (tawhai) forest, with just a bit of tussock grass and Dracophyllum scrub on the tops. The views from the summit include the Puketeraki Range rising front and centre above the Lees Valley, Mt Oxford, and further away the the Torlesse Range. Continue reading “Mt Richardson Loop, Mount Thomas Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Alford Track, Canterbury NZ

The Mt Alford Track takes you to the summit of Mt Alford (1171m) for good views over taller mountains on the inland side, and the Canterbury Plains to the east.

Mt Alford sits on the edge of the Canterbury Plains, with taller mountains on the inland side. The walk up is not bad, passing through forested sections early on, a short while in paddocks, then back into reserve for the alpine portion to the summit. The main attraction of this walk however is the view from the summit, although the views over the plains as we descended were also nice.

I spent a fair bit of time up on the summit photographing the changing views as the weather began to clear, enough that my wife Sophia made a small snowman to pass the time (that gets into one of my shots). Track notes at the end. Continue reading “Mt Alford Track, Canterbury NZ”

Peak Hill Track, Canterbury NZ

A popular walk up Peak Hill (1240m) to excellent 360 degree views over Lake Coleridge, various mountain ranges, and braided river valleys.

I’d read good things about the shortish walk up Peak Hill, and it’s fairly obvious on a map that the views will be good. One blogger claimed that it is the best of Canterbury’s foothills. The walk itself is just okay, with a steep, and on the day we did it, fairly muddy climb up to a ridge, which then leads to the summit. The views gradually improve as you go, and I recommend continuing past the summit to a rocky knoll at 1096m, to get a little more intimate with those peaks across the lake. From the summit of Peak Hill there are 360 degree views of all kinds of topography and landforms. I think I’ve seen better, but my pictures of these views proved popular with family and friends (on Facebook), so I guess the majority has spoken. Continue reading “Peak Hill Track, Canterbury NZ”

Red Hill via Porter River, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ

Really spectacular views from the summit of Red Hill (1641m), climbed via the Porter River. Not a long walk but off-track and a bit slow going in deep snow.

This tramp up to the summit of Red Hill via the Porter River was our first totally off-track walk, and also our first walk in snow from start to finish. The increasingly deep snow made it hard work for a while, until the climb up to alpine elevations thinned out the vegetation. But the really spectacular views from the summit of Red Hill (1641m) made it all worthwhile, with Lake Coleridge to the west surrounded by numerous mountains popping up out of the otherwise flat plains, and to the east and south east were snowy peaks galore. The Canterbury Plains are also visible, although covered by a cloud inversion on the day we did it. Continue reading “Red Hill via Porter River, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Oxford Loop, Oxford Forest Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ

A varied loop walk with great views from the summit of Mt Oxford, plus beautiful beech forest and a nice waterfall on the return leg.

After arriving in New Zealand I’d been waiting for a bit of snow before climbing Mt Oxford, one of the more accessible mountains from Christchurch. After a warm and sunny week in early winter there was just enough left to add to the aesthetics on high ground, including the upper reaches of beech forest, but plenty still on surrounding higher peaks. I’d heard the views from the summit were good, and they were, but the nicest surprise was some of the most beautiful beech forest I’ve seen in New Zealand on the upper slopes of the return leg. There’s also a short side trip to the attractive three tier Ryde Falls. Continue reading “Mt Oxford Loop, Oxford Forest Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ”