This was a very pleasant walk with good variety, and felt quite remote for a day walk. You start walking up rocky Redcliffe Stream surrounded by native scrublands on steep-sided hills. In early October the Kowhai trees were in bloom adding to this already attractive scenery. As you climb up the stream you eventually reach tussock flats, then commence the steep climb up Rat Hill (1450m) with great views over ruggedly attractive 2000m peaks in the Black Hill and Mt Hutt Ranges. Another walk to exceed expectations.
The Canterbury Floods washed out much of the track through Redcliffe Stream Scenic Reserve so there’s a bit of adventure as you navigate the missing bits, mostly along the rocky stream bed. Track notes at the end.
Rat Hill via Redcliffe Stream: The Scenery
I remember passing the start to this walk some months before, and seeing a clear sign for access to the Redcliffe Stream Conservation Area. No such sign now, and I drove straight past the start, but realised my mistake and returned to the big pile of rocks that now marks the boundary of this reserve.
The Canterbury Floods of May/June 2021 washed away much of the access track and you will therefore have to navigate along the stream in a number of places. You will meet up with what is left of the track where it moves away from the stream bed, and the going is a lot faster in these sections. The hardest bit was probably very near the start where you skirt the banks of the fast flowing stream, requiring a bit of scrambling. For the most part you can then walk in the rocky stream bed, which was actually quite enjoyable, especially on the way back when we knew the route well.
Note that in one spot the route follows a tributary of the main stream (no track here), then you rejoin the track and pass over a hill and back down again to the main stream. You can see this on the topo maps but if you are not experienced at navigating then it might be a bit confusing.
You eventually climb up the stream to tussocky flats and at the boundary with Hakatere Conservation Area leave the track to walk straight up Rat Hill to the summit.
It took us longer than expected with the extra navigation and slower walking in places, and I’ve rated it hard because of this. About 6-7 hours should be enough. If they re-cut the track then it will be easier. .
There’s more info on tracks in Hakatere Conservation Park in this DOC brochure.