Home / Trips / Canterbury

Big Ben, Torlesse Korowai Tussockland Park

View of the Rakaia River from Big Ben. Photo: Pat Barrett
Distance
7.82km to summit
Total Ascent
1037m
Time
3-5hr
Grade
Moderate
Access
A signposted car park and marked easement on the east side of Coleridge Road, 15km north-west of Windwhistle on SH7
Map
BX20, BW21
GPX File
Big Ben Torlesse Korowai Tussockland Park (gpx, yo 85 KB)
Your device does not support GPX files. Please try a different device.

Out the back of the Rakaia Gorge in central Canterbury, where the river broadens into a large floodplain and the foothill ranges fall back, is a relatively new accessway onto the south-eastern end of the Big Ben Range and Big Ben, a large rounded 1416m summit.

It’s known as the Dry Acheron Track and its formation through private land to reach the toe of the range provides some great opportunities for hikes in a remarkable setting.

Head through the lower Dry Acheron Stream, a very attractive stream which flows through a series of mini-gorges, open space and terraces as it drains the Big Ben Range.

From the base of Big Ben, a rough trail climbs the face, which is poled to make life a little easier. There’s a very pleasant plateau at around 1000m, where a small knoll offers sweeping views of the Rakaia Valley, and a place to rest. The view spans Mt Hutt, up the Rakaia to the Main Divide, over to Lake Coleridge and into the Wilberforce.

After a false summit, there’s one final long easy slope to the range crest and Big Ben.

Like its name, the view from the summit is big and covers much of the Canterbury Plains, all of the Rakaia, Coleridge and Wilberforce basins and the Big Ben Range which rolls away to the north-west like a frozen wave.

The jumbled topography of the Lake Coleridge Basin is fascinating from here, with numerous isolated triangular hillocks jostled for space amid the tawny downs; appearing like a giant’s army preparing for battle.

Support Wilderness

Since 1991, Wilderness has had one simple goal: to help Kiwis ‘See more, do more, live more’ of New Zealand.

If you value our mission, please consider subscribing. As a loyal supporter, you’ll receive these benefits:

  • New Zealand’s best outdoor journalism We’ve won multiple awards for our journalism and magazine production.
  • NZ’s best trips. Browse more than 610 trips with downloadable maps and route notes.
  • Trustworthy gear reviews. Each month we review gear we’ve been bashing and thrashing for months so you can determine if its worth your money.
  • Member benefits. Our WildCard provides discounts at more than 20 partners throughout New Zealand.
  • Your support goes a long way. Your subscription will help us fund NZ’s best outdoor journalists and writers and ensure Wilderness will be there to inspire the next generation of outdoor Kiwis.

A subscription costs as little as $7.00/month for instant access to all articles, trips, gear reviews and gear guides.

View all our subscription options and join the club.

Already a subscriber? Login Now.