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.
Doing the loop from Coopers Creek Car Park is a long walk, a little under 20km and 1200m of ascent and descent, much of it in forest. I think it’s best walked anti-clockwise because you get good views from the summit west as you gradually drop back down towards the nicest bits of forest. And if you are tired after reaching the summit then you can return the way you came for a shorter day.
We walked the loop anti-clockwise. Near the start you have to cross Coopers Creek, and that may involve wet feet if you don’t have gaiters and waterproof boots. The tracks through the forested sections are obvious. Some sections were a bit boggy when we did it, although that didn’t stop people walking the Ryde Falls Track in their nice sneakers, including a woman with a young baby on her back. Ryde Falls is a 500m side trip (1km return) off the main loop. The route above the bushline is poled, and navigation is simple in good weather. And you can also climb the mountain from View Hill, passing through that nice area of beech forest on the way, and continue if you like to do the loop clockwise.
You can find more information about walking tracks in the area on the DOC website.