This classic Canterbury walk in Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park, an hour west of Christchurch, takes you to Castle Hill Peak (1998m), the high point of the Torlesse Range. The scenery is starkly beautiful, with large areas of scree intermixed with colourful scrub and tussock. There are extensive views over mountains, valleys, lakes and the Canterbury Plains.
You ascend steeply at first through tussock and then scree from Porters Pass (942m) to Foggy Peak (1741m), and then it’s fabulous views along a broad ridge the whole way to Castle Hill Peak. The final ascent is just steep and narrow enough to get the adrenaline flowing; at least it did for us on a very windy day indeed! In our first year living in New Zealand this was the only walk we repeated, as I wanted to do it with a bit of snow on the tops: see that post here.
You could stop at Foggy Peak for already great views, but I think you’ll be more satisfied by continuing on to Castle Hill Peak. The whole walk can easily be fit into a day. Track notes at the end.
Castle Hill Peak via Foggy Peak: The Scenery
It’s a very steep climb up Foggy Peak from the lay-by at the top of Porters Pass, much of it on scree and other loose material. This was pretty slow going as it felt like one step forward with half a step back. (Apparently the walking can be easier in snow). Only the first few hundred metres are marked, although there are then cairns for a while. From Foggy Peak to Castle Hill Peak it’s easy walking on a mostly broad ridge until the very last ascent, which is very steep in places and a bit narrow. There is roughly 1150m of ascent and descent from Porters Pass (942m).
Navigation was very easy in clear weather, but it’s pretty featureless in parts so I imagine it would be difficult in mist. There’s more information on this and other routes in the area on the DOC website.