Showing posts with label Bridle Path. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bridle Path. Show all posts

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Christchurch 360: Sign of the Kiwi to Bridle Path: 29th June 2014

Walking on the Port Hills: a case of changing plans...

Ive been quiet on the tramping scene for a while so I planned a trip up to Lewis Pass, I was going to hike into Boyle Flats Hut for a couple of nights and then walk out. 

I actually got as far as Hanmer Springs! About 2 km's past the Hanmer Springs turn off the road was closed:a logging truck had overturned this side of Lewis Pass blocking the road from 0730 till 1400.
Bugger! So no trip to the mountains this weekend:0

I spent the day in Hanmer instead, went for a forest walk, spent about 3 hours in the thermal pools & then drove home. Altogether, not a waste of a day.

Here I am in Hanmer Forest

Setting out for the Bridle Path

The next day was clear and sunny so I decided to go for a walk on the Port Hills. I got my wife to drop me off at the top of Dyers Pass Road and then walked along the Crater Rim Walkway to the Bridle Path, about 10 kms in total. This was the first weekend since the 2010/11 earthquakes that the section of track from Rapaki to the Bridle Path was open. 

It was previously closed due to rock fall danger.


The Port Hills from Dyers Pass to Mt Pleasent


Kathryn and Juliet drop me off at the car-park

Sign of the Kiwi car park
You start out walking up the road for about a kilometre then start walking on the track.

Heading up the Summit Road

...more of the the Summit Road

This is Sugar Loaf (496 metres), it houses the TV transmission tower for the Christchurch area. That's its real name btw, supposedly it looks like a loaf of bread...I dont see it but....????
There are fantastic views from the top of the hill, you can walk up the access road to the third highest point on Banks Peninsula.
Sugar Loaf TV antenna in the distance
The entrance to the track is opposite the first lookout on the Summit Road, there are a number of tracks from this location which lead up to the car-park at the Sugar Loaf.

Road side car park about 1 km up the Summit Road
This is not a very auspicious start to the Crater Rim Walkway, scrubby sheep pasture, but the start it most certainly is!
Crater Rim Walkway: Climbing the track to Sugar Loaf

Pegasus Bay and North Canterbury from the Port Hills
The Crater Rim walkway goes around the left side of the hills from the Sugarloaf car-park. From this point on you have excellent views of the Canterbury Plains, Pegasus Bay and Southern Alps.
Sugar Loaf car-park, track goes to the left
A classic view north towards Kaikoura, Pegasus Bay and the distant Southern Alps.

Glorious Canterbury Plains/ Pegasus Bay
Here is view down onto the South end of Lyttleton Harbour with Gebbies Pass, Mt Bradley and Mt Herbert in the distance. Quail Island is to the middle right of the photo.
View of Lyttleton from near Sugar Loaf
This is the style of sign used by the Christchurch City Council who administer the tracks and roads on the Port Hills. Note the message about rock fall: this was NOT on the sign before September 2011!
Crater Rim Walkway: a rock fall warning

Crater Rim Walkway on flank of Sugar Loaf
As you can see the established parts of the walkway are very easy to follow, this is the standard of the "track" for most of its length.
View to the East along the Port Hills
There are two excellent tracks through some native forest on the Lyttleton side of Sugarloaf. Unfortunately since the earthquakes there is a very real risk of rock fall on the tracks. These tracks are now open again after some removal of loose rocks.
Looking West towards Sugar Loaf- just see native bush to left

CCC Reserve sign...you see a few of these!

View towards the mouth of Lyttleton Harbour, that is Quail Island in the centre of the shot. There is a very nice track around the Island, a great spot to take the kids for a walk and lunch during the Summer. You have to catch the ferry out to the island, unless you own a boat of course.

2017 Update: DOC are developing a new 10-12 bunk hut on Quail Island utilising the existing day shelter and outbuildings near the dock. It should be available for use early 2018.
Diamond Harbour in the distance

Crater Rim Walkway near Mt Vernon
There are a few areas of regenerating bush along the track, in pre-colonial days the whole of the peninsula was covered in dense native bush. There are planting groups working their way along the Port Hills but I would imagine it will be some time before the results are obvious.

Crater Rim Walkway- easy single track

Crater Rim Walkway: exotic tree planting
The track undulates up and down over small ridge-lines and through small areas of bush.

Crater Rim Walkway: sidling around Mt Vernon
There are the foothills of the Southern Alps in the distance, they are about 50 km's distant in this photo. During that week they had a good fall of snow higher in the Alps, 6-10 cms which closed a lot of the passes.
Southern Alps in the distance from Port Hills

Port Hills: Top end of Rapaki Track
If you are walking the Crater Rim Walkway this is a possible spot to "bail out". The Rapaki Track will take you down to the Huntsbury area and "civilisation". Buses are available at the bottom to take you back into the central Bus Exchange.
Rapaki Track from Summit road

Rapaki Track is a great downhill MTB ride, you have to look out for the tourist's though!


Rapaki Track heading down to Christchurch
The section of Crater Rim Walkway between Rapaki and the Bridle Path has been re routed. Previously it ran along the Lyttleton side of the hills but because of rock fall danger it is now on the Plains side facing Christchurch.

End of the Summit Road for cars, Rapaki Track
Parts of the track are dual use, I had to move aside for about 10-12 MTB riders through this section.

Crater Rim Walkway on Huntsbury Spur
Crater Rim Walkway: View to ocean from Huntsbury Spur

Lyttleton from near The Tors
I stopped around 1230 by the side of the (deserted) road near the Tors and ate my lunch.  It was very pleasant as it was surprisingly warm (its winter here). There was a nice views of the Plains and Lyttleton as I chomped my tuna + crackers!

Oh, mighty tuna, ambrosia of the God's, how I love thee!
View of the Tors near Castle Rock

New section of the Crater Rim Walkway bedding in...
Below is a view of the old walkway on the Lyttleton side of the hills, it has a series of unstable bluffs right next to the track so its a "no go" area now.
Old section of Crater Rim Walkway
Track? What track are you talking about!
New section Crater Rim Walkway near the Tors
Because the track has been re routed due to earthquake damage, you had to make your own way for about a kilometre. There are a series of paint marks on the grass so the CCC Parks and Recreation people obviously haven't got around to cutting the new track yet. It will sidle across the side of the hill following an existing sheep track.
View towards Castle Hill area

Bridle Path apex from near Castle Hill

Crater Rim Walkway heading down to Bridle Path on Pt. 422
The track heads around the back of this hill (Pt. 422) eventually to emerge at the apex of the Bridle Path. I decided to go off track and walk down the road. Dont do this! It was a pig of a thing to find a way down to the roadway as the road is built with an uphill cutting about 4 metres high. It would have been easier to just follow the path.

New section of Crater Rim Walkway on Pt. 422

Here are a series of three photos from the Bridle Path apex, showing Lyttleton Harbour from the heads right through to Gebbies Pass.
Bridle Path view: Lyttleton Harbour Heads and the harbour
Bridle Path view: Mt Herbert from Summit Road at Bridle Path

Bridle Path view: View towards Quail Island, Gebbies Pass

I stopped for a drink and snack at the top of the Bridle Path. There was a lot of foot traffic up and down the track because it was such a lovely day: Clear winter days seem to bring out Cantabrians for some fresh air and sunshine.


Hey folks, me at the top of the Bridle Path


View down the Bridle Path towards Heathcote Valley

Almost there, I come into sight of the track end!

Nearly there, Bridle Path car-park

There are plenty of parking spaces at the track end, you can also park in the Gondola car-park which is right next to the Bridle Path.

Bridle Path car park
Here are some para-ponters enjoying the day. They launch their gliders from a hill next to the top terminal of the Gondola.
Para-ponters near the Gondola


Close up of Bridle Path sign in Heathcote Valley
An excellent day out walking, the weather was beautiful, and although disappointed about missing my original tramp I was more than happy. I love the Port Hills we are so lucky to have them right there in our back yard.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Bridle Path - Mt Pleasant walk: 20 April 2014

Gateway to Colonial Canterbury...the Bridle Path

Once again the weather has played havoc with my tramping plans. I had organised to go for a trip to the Arthur's Pass area, unfortunately yet another storm made this impossible. As the weather on the Port Hills was good I decided to do an extended walk closer to home. I walked up the Bridle path to Summit Road and then along and down Mt  Pleasant and back to my car.

 The Port Hills are the closest range to the city, they are covered in tracks and routes for walking, cycling and tramping. The "Hills" are visible from all parts of Christchurch and are one of the many reasons this is such a great city to live in.

Map of Bridle path

Here is my car at the car-park at the bottom of the path, the track climbs for 450 metres from this spot up to a road which runs along the crest of the Port Hills.  It would be about 2 kms from the car-park to the summit, following a track which zig zags up the hill side. An alternate is too take the gondola to the summit and then walk down the track, the gondola terminus is right next to this car-park.



The first section of the track is quite steep, gradually the gradient eases as you approach the top of the track. This is a popular walking and running route, as evidenced by the number of people I encountered as I walked the track.
Beginning of track
The Bridle Path is the original route over the Port Hills, it was first used by the early settlers in the mid 1840's. It is quite steep and periodically needs to be repaired due to erosion and general wear.The track was built to transport the settlers and their chattels over the hills from Lyttleton, the closest port to Christchurch.  It has been in constant use ever since.


Information panel detailing history of track
Since the earthquakes of 2010/2011 there are significant rockfall hazards on all tracks on the Port Hills. In fact a person was killed by falling rocks on this very track, this is the explanation for the below sign. There are several spots on this track where there are rock cliffs in close proximity to the track.
Rock fall warning
You can see portions of the Summit Road as you make your way uphill, this is the closed section of road which runs under the gondola cables. Although most of the road is open there are still sections closed by rockfall from the earthquake. You can see why a lot of debris rolled down here, the volcanic rock of the hills literally fell to pieces.

View towards Mt Cavendish from track
The condition of the track is OK, it was a bit muddy from the recent rain but presented no problems.
Muddy Bridle Path
There were a number of slips on the track, here a 50 metre section of bank has slid down onto the track.
Bridle path
It was a lovely day for a walk, slightly cloudy and not too hot, it makes a change from all of the rain.


Heathcote, Pegasus Bay 
Slightly rougher section of the track, it is around this area that a person was struck by falling rock during the February 2011 earthquake. There are low cliffs about a 100 metres above this point, obviously some of the rock cascaded down onto the track. Tragic!
Bridle path, 3/4 way up
An informative sign about 3/4 of the way to the top, it shows the track and a panoramic view of Heathcote valley.


There is a great view from the top information board out over Heathcote valley, the view stretches all the way to the Kaikoura ranges and Southern Alps.


Pegasus Bay
The bottom terminus for the gondola is to the left centre of this photo. This is the view from the top of the track where it meets the Summit Road.
Gondola Terminus
A view of Heathcote from the Summit road, there were 10-12 people milling about checking out the scenery.
Heathcote Valley
From the rest area at the top of the track Lyttleton harbour lays spread out below you, the Bridle path continues down into the harbour making a traverse of the hills a possibility. A lot of school groups will walk over the track from the Lyttleton side to Heatcote valley, in fact I did a trip like this in High school. The trip would take about 2 hours in total.

Diamond harbour, Mt Herbert
Here is a closer view of Diamond harbour and Mt Herbert, there is a track which runs right up the middle of this slope all the way to the Mt Herbert Summit.

Diamond harbour, Mt Herbert


View of Lyttleton Harbour
Looking to the south-east you can see Gebbies pass and the ocean near Birdlings flats.

Towards Gebbies Pass

View due North from Summit Road
The Summit track mostly runs parallel to the road, it is poled and runs along the crest, up to the gondola and then onwards along the ridges. Mt Cavendish is the location of the top terminus for the gondola, from there you can follow the tracks to east and west.

View towards Mt Cavendish
Looking back from half way up the hill, you can see the road, shelter on the apex of the Bridle path and the track itself. The Summit walkway follows the road around to the right, eventually you will reach Cashmere and Victoria park.
To the East, summit road and Bridle path
The gondola crosses the road in the centre of this photo, the road has been cleared but is still closed due to the danger of rockfall.
Gondola crossing Summit road

Track to Mt Cavendish
I stopped for a rest at a nice seat near this track junction, you go up to the gondola and right to continue following the walkway.
Track junction, up to Gondola, right to Mt Pleasant

Gondola, top station
Here is a view to the east from the seat at the track junction, the hill in the distance is the crest of Mt Pleasant.
View to East towards Mt Cavendish
Once you reach the low saddle between Mt Cavendish and Mt Pleasant you can follow a farm track or walk along the road. As it was quite muddy I decided to follow the road.
Mt Cavendish, North East side from saddle
The road is very quiet as there is no through traffic, mostly MTB people and rock climbers coming to scale the cliffs near here.  
Climbing summit road, Port Hills
Below are a series of panoramic views of the surrounds from the same spot on the summit road:
View back towards gondola/ Mt Cavendish


View towards South West over Canterbury Plains

Glorious Canterbury, to the North West
This is one of the sections of the summit road which has not (and probably never will be) reopened, as you can see a lot of rock fell down during the earthquakes, it is surprising that nobody was injured.

Rock fall as result of earthquakes

View down Heathcote valley
I stopped for lunch at a memorial seat near the road, it was really great sitting and contemplating the city while I enjoyed my tasty pate lunch. Take lots of water with you if you decide to walk along the Port Hills, as there are no supplies to hand.

Hey folks!
Tasty pate /cracker lunch

1000 yard stare!
There was a small group of rock climbers plying their trade near the seat, looks like some good climbing if that is your thing.

Rock climbers near lunch spot


Estuary, Mt Pleasant Spur

View out North towards Southern Alps
I started back along the road, after about a kilometre you reach the high point on the ridge and can get your first clear view out to the East. The spit of land in the centre of the photo is South Shore, with the long golden crescent of Pegasus Bay stretching away to the north.
I live in a beautiful and remarkable place.
View due East from Summit road

View due East from Summit road, Godley Head area.

Long view of Pegasus bay
I followed the road for about another kilometre, then headed down Mt Pleasant road. Eventually you reach the Heathcote valley, from Ferrymead you walk around the bottom of the hills back to the car-park, this is all on roads and footpaths.
View towards Estuary mouth
It was a great excursion, although I didn't get to go where I had originally planned it was still a good walk (4.5 hours). I will be doing more trips on the Port Hills and Banks Peninsula as the weather tends to be better here when it is raining up in the mountains. There are lots of interesting and moderately challenging trips to be had, and they are really close to home. Bonus.