This is a guest blog by Ashlyn Oswalt. Ashlyn is an American expat who’s been living in New Zealand for a year. She’s a keen tramper and enjoys going on day-trips around the Christchurch area. She’s shared her top five day trips for people who are thinking of getting out and about in nature this winter.
As the Christchurch cold chill sets in, it can be tempting to store your tramping boots for warmer days. It’s tough to deny the appeal of sitting by a warm fire at home, but if you’re itching to spend the day outdoors, check out these five day trips from Christchurch. A few hours of fresh air can help keep the cabin fever at bay.
If you want to keep your first cold weather venture close to home, try the Ōtamahua/Quail Island track, under an hour’s drive from Christchurch. This 2.5 hour walking loop is great with kids in tow and offers a scenic walk through abandoned shipwrecks, barracks, and old homestead sites. If you’re looking for a shorter walk, the Ōtepatotu Scenic Reserve walk offers stunning views and a bit of a climb for a mere hour of your time. For those looking for more of a challenging full day, the Mount Herbert Walkway offers a 6-8 hour advanced hiking challenge, with an additional 3.5 hour walk to a hut should you wish to stay the night. Enjoy views of the Port Hills, Mt. Grey, and Mt. Thomas – and be home in time for dinner!
Craigieburn Forest Park
Arthur’s Pass is an obvious day trip from Christchurch, but it’s neighbour Craigieburn Forest Park often offers a quieter experience. Featuring a range of walks for all ability types, the whole family can enjoy a day in the Southern Alps foothills. Shorter walks include the 20 minute Nature Walk, which strolls through beech forest and makes itself home to many native birds. The four hour summit to Helicopter Hill showcases the views of the Craigieburn and Torlesse mountain ranges, while offering an incline sure to warm you up. If you’re a skilled winter tramper, try tackling Camp Saddle, which crosses saddles and ridge-lines, offering a wide range of stunning Southern Alp views.
Oxford is a true hidden gem, full of walking and biking tracks with great views, and just an hour outside of Christchurch. If you’re looking for a long, challenging tramp to shake out the winter blues, try the eight hour round trip Mt Oxford Track, which will reward you with glorious views of the Canterbury Plains. For less of an incline heavy walk, try the Ryde Falls Track, which varies between 4-6 hours and offers an undulating stroll through native forest. Ending at a five-tiered waterfall, the effort is well worth the reward.
Mount Hutt Area
Mount Hutt is an obvious choice for skiing, but with an under-two-hour drive from Christchurch, the area is great for winter tramps, too. Scotts Saddle, a two hour climb ending at the ski field road offers views over mid Canterbury. The Rakaia Gorge Track is a popular 3-4 hour walk along the rim of the gorge, featuring points of geological interest and old mining remnants.
With a car ride clocking in just under three hours from the centre of Christchurch, Kaikōura is an ambitious, but highly satisfying, day trip. Strolling the Kaikōura Peninsula Walkway is a great way to stretch your legs after the trip. The walkway offers various scenic stops, viewpoints, and walk lengths, so walking at whatever pace your party is comfortable with is simple. For a more challenging day, Mt. Fyffe offers rewarding views of the Kaikōura peninsula and plains, and takes about eight hours round trip on foot, and less on mountain bike.
So pack up the car, lace up your tramping boots, and shake out those winter blues. Be sure to prepare yourself for winter temperatures by wearing warm layers and packing plenty of water and snacks. As always, make sure to tell someone your plans, and be sure to reward yourself with a warm pie once you complete your trek!
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