We took advantage of some lovely autumn weather to walk the Hogs Back Track in the Craigieburn Forest Park, about 90km west of Christchurch on the West Coast Road (SH73). It is a multi-use track for walkers/bikers. It is single track, rated intermediate for mountain bikers .
With the maximum temperature around 13°C and with our day packs containing some food and some warm clothes if needed, we set off at 9.30am for our 5.5 hour trip. This included a lunch break and plenty of stops to admire the view.
Click on any image to enlarge.
We began our 15km out-and-back trip near Castle Hill Village, but another entry point is at the other end of the walk at the Texas Flat car park on the Mt Cheeseman Skifield Road. The walk from Castle Hill starts at around 760 metres and our highest point was 1069 metres. Instead of walking all the way down to Texas Flat, we cut off the track a little early and climbed up onto the Hogs Back Ridge for a great view. The undulating walk passes in and out of beech forest and includes open flats and views to surrounding mountain ranges. We started via the Hogs Back Track (see map) and completed the last part of the return journey on the Easy Up Track, which is longer and less direct than the Hogs Back Track and essentially an easier way up for mountain bikers.
After the first 20 minutes uphill through beech forest the track opens out to a view back to Castle Hill Village.
In autumn, the mountains are usually devoid of snow but still provide some spectacular scenery. The track was dry and in good condition.
The track crosses two streams, Long Creek which is not bridged and may involve wet feet, and then Waterfall Creek which is bridged.
It is possible to walk further along the ridge but there was a strong wind blowing at the top, although it was calm for the rest of our time on the track.
The West Coast Highway can be seen lower centre, just near Cave Stream. The Puketeraki Range is in the background. Further limestone formations can be seen on the hillside.
Click here to see an animated version of our walk, best viewed in large.