Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park, Canterbury NZ

Great views in all directions as you climb to the accessible high peak of Mt Cloudsley (2107m) in the Craigieburn Range near Castle Hill.

Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park

This was my first time to climb a 2000 metre high peak from the bottom (the bottom being at 760m in this case), and was also the highest I’d climbed in New Zealand.  Despite these numbers it is a fairly straightforward climb up Long Spur to the summit of Mt Cloudsley (2107m), the second highest peak in the Craigieburn Range. It made for a great winter walk after some fresh snow, with views along the Craigieburn Range and over to the Torlesse Range, and from the summit, views south-west over a jumble of topography around Lake Coleridge, and north-west towards numerous peaks in the Southern Alps.

Low cloud around the summit limited my photography a little, but the views were clear enough for you to get the idea. And the cloud cleared as we began to head back down, so I got good pics north and east. Track notes at the end.

Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
The rocks at Castle Hill, and our target for the day, Mt Cloudsley, somewhere at the back. Viewed from the road on our drive in. This is probably a nicer scene in the lilac hues of very early morning, but the bright primary colours of this not so early morning were nice too. There’s an easygoing walk around the rocks that we’ve not done yet, and I think the rocks are popular with climbers.

Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur: The Scenery

Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
Looking back at Castle Hill Village and the Torlesse Range, which was to be obscured by cloud until we began our descent.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
Walking along the Hogs Back Track after we emerged from beech forest. Peaks to the north of Mt Cloudsley visible here, although they were to remain obscured by cloud for quite a while on our way up to the summit.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
Sophia on the Hogs Back Track. This is used as a Mountain Bike Track, although it is closed to bikers in winter.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
Leith Hill (1384m) to the left.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
The summit of Mt Izard up there somewhere to the right. Our target on the top left.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
The last bit to the summit of Mt Cloudsley.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
Quite snowy in places.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
Mist was coming in and out so I was constantly grabbing my camera to take pictures of this scene as it cleared.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
Sophia looking towards clearings in the cloud.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
I think that’s Mt Izard (2009m) centre left.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
Sophia with clouds swirling around behind her.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
Getting up high here.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
Sophia approaching the summit of Mt Cloudsley (2107m) in low cloud.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
Looking towards the jumble of mountains around Lake Coleridge, with Mt Ida in the centre mid ground, and Mt Oakden, which we climbed the week before, behind Mt Ida.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
The tops were lopped off the distant peaks of the Southern Alps, but we could see Mt Olympus, in the mid ground here stretching from left to right.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
Looking to the east down snowy slopes, and our way up, Long Spur, to the left.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
Looking south towards My Enys (2194m), the highest peak in the range. You can return to Castle Hill Village via this peak in a long day.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
Sophia on the summit of Mt Cloudsley (2107m), with Mt Olympus in the mid ground, and the Southern Alps visible below low cloud in the background.

The following video gives you a reasonable impression of the views from the summit, partially obscured by cloud as they were:

Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
Setting off from the summit with peaks to the north in the Craigieburn Range beginning to emerge from behind cloud.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
Leaving the summit of Mt Cloudsley.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
Looking north along the Craigieburn Range. All these peaks around 2000m high.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
The descent back down Long Spur to the left, with the Torlesse Range now visible in the background.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
Looking NNE with the Craigieburn Range to the left, Purple Hill centre right, and Broken Hill to the right.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
The Torlesse Range brooding below grey clouds.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
Looking north-east.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
Looking back at bits of the Craigieburn Range.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
Sophia backed by a few hills including Purple Hill to the left.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
A small Sophia on Long Spur.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
A few people liked this shot when I posted it on social media, so I’m including it here. A bit more of an atmosphere shot as this scene was quite a long way from Mt Cloudsley, and so didn’t look quite like this. Lovely shapes and textures though.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
Sophia looking happy with our walk.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
A final look at the Craigieburn Range as it curves round to the north-east.
Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
Nearing the bottom of Long Spur here. The Hogs Back Track is off to the left. The Torlesse Range at the back.


Track Notes

Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
Starting off on the Hogs Back Track, you leave this very shortly after an intersection with another track, heading up Long Spur to the summit.

You start this route on the Hogs Back Track, a mountain biking and walking track, that passes at first through beech forest, then emerges into grassland/scrub. After a while you arrive at an intersection with another track that returns to the forest – a few metres on there is a track of sorts that runs up conveniently to join Long Spur near the tree line. From there it’s straight up Long Spur to the summit through tussock, then scree and rocks (although mostly snow for us).

This was fairly easy walking in winter after some fresh snow, but without there will be patches of scree that might slow progress. I’d also read that there was some easy scrambling to be done but it hardly felt like that to me – perhaps snow helped. It took us about 4 hours to the summit, and it’s a fairly easy descent back down the same route. Roughly 1350m of ascent/descent over 6km.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

2 thoughts on “Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park, Canterbury NZ”

    1. Cheers Jenny. I’ll look into that. I’m reading a historical book about living and working on a Canterbury High Country station at the mo.

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