Castle Hill Peak via Foggy Peak, Korowai Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ

Stark and ruggedly beautiful scenery on this classic Canterbury tramp up Castle Hill Peak (1998m) via Foggy Peak, in Korowai Torlesse Tussocklands Park.

Castle Hill Peak and Foggy Peak, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park

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. I’ve mixed in these shots with the others, so don’t be confused by the apparent change in conditions! 

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

Castle Hill Peak and Foggy Peak, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
On our way up Foggy Peak.
Castle Hill Peak and Foggy Peak, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
A steep ascent through scree on Foggy Peak.
Castle Hill Peak and Foggy Peak, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
A panorama of the Craigieburn Range from Foggy Peak.
Looking towards Mt Torlesse and other peaks in the range. (early spring)
Castle Hill Peak via Foggy Peak (in spring)
A small Sophia on the ridge that leads to the summit, top right. (early spring)
Castle Hill Peak and Foggy Peak, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
The final climb to Castle Hill Peak. This last bit looked a bit intimidating given the high winds, but it was mostly fine. A bit steep and loose in a couple of places.
Castle Hill Peak via Foggy Peak (in spring)
Approaching the summit of Castle Hill Peak. (early spring) 
Castle Hill Peak via Foggy Peak (in spring)
Sophia and me on the summit of Castle Hill Peak (1998m). Our first time to use crampons and ice axe all winter, and only needed for a few short sections. It wasn’t very wintery for most of our first New Zealand winter. (early spring) 
Castle Hill Peak via Foggy Peak (in spring)
Sophia liked this picture of her. Taken on the summit. (early spring) 

 

Castle Hill Peak and Foggy Peak, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Mt Torlesse panorama.
Castle Hill Peak and Foggy Peak, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Mt Torlesse and the Kowai River Valley. Loved the colours and textures in these hills.
Castle Hill Peak via Foggy Peak (in spring)
A panorama of other high peaks in the Torlesse Range from the summit. (early spring) 
Castle Hill Peak via Foggy Peak (in spring)
Looking north. (early spring) 
Castle Hill Peak and Foggy Peak, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Heading back towards Foggy Peak.
Castle Hill Peak via Foggy Peak (in spring)
Returning from the summit. I took a lot of pictures trying to represent the steepness of this section. This is probably the best. It actually felt a lot less steep this second time, possibly due to familiarity, much less wind (ie, less scary), or else in snow rather than bare scree. (early spring) 
Castle Hill Peak via Foggy Peak (in spring)
Me on a fairly snowy section. (early spring) 

Castle Hill Peak and Foggy Peak, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park Castle Hill Peak and Foggy Peak, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park

Castle Hill Peak via Foggy Peak (in spring)
Looking out towards the Canterbury Plains. I like the contrasts in this shot. (early spring) 
Castle Hill Peak via Foggy Peak (in spring)
We stopped here to take off crampons. (early spring)
Castle Hill Peak and Foggy Peak, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Sophia on the ridge between Castle Hill Peak and Foggy Peak.

Castle Hill Peak and Foggy Peak, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park

Castle Hill Peak via Foggy Peak (in spring)
One of the valleys to the west. (early spring)
Castle Hill Peak and Foggy Peak, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Looking towards Foggy Peak.
Castle Hill Peak and Foggy Peak, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Pink hues at the saddle below Foggy Peak. You can just see Sophia at the bottom, making her way up.
Castle Hill Peak via Foggy Peak (in spring)
Sophia on the summit of Foggy Peak (1741m). The Craigieburn Range in the background. (early spring) 
Castle Hill Peak and Foggy Peak, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Lake Lyndon

Castle Hill Peak and Foggy Peak, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park

Castle Hill Peak and Foggy Peak, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Panorama from Foggy Peak looking roughly south-west.
Castle Hill Peak via Foggy Peak (in spring)
Sophia descending from Foggy peak with Lake Lyndon in the background. It was around here that we passed one of my Instagram followers, only neither of us knew it then. She realised the next day after I posted a picture from the walk. Small world. (early spring) 
Castle Hill Peak and Foggy Peak, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Lake Lyndon
Castle Hill Peak and Foggy Peak, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Nicely coloured fuzzy plants on the way down Foggy Peak.

Track Notes

Castle Hill Peak via Foggy Peak, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
It’s a very steep climb up Foggy Peak, much of it on scree and other loose material. 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.

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

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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