- Park at Purau Saddle. Car shuttle required if walking to Hilltop
Christchurch is spoiled with geography, both beautiful and rumbly in nature. The new Te Ara Pataka Track less than an hour’s drive from the city is the latest addition to an amazing portfolio of outdoor experiences.
From the Hilltop car park, begin the tramp from one of Te Ara Pataka’s many tributaries, starting from Purau Saddle.
Since the track’s two conveniently located huts were added to DOC’s booking system, the area has become a proving ground for aspiring trampers.
The well-signed track leads past the iconic Monument and onto the summit walkway that follows the ridgeline. Most of the distance to cover is easily visible in the distance.
The terrain is an unusual mixture of pastoral farmland and regrowing bush. Wide farm-tracks take turns with a few narrow trails, especially on the slippery downhill to Hilltop. Along the way an eerie graveyard of totara stumps that cover the landscape like knocked out teeth waited to be explored. Spin on your heels and the change of perspective drives in the fact that you are on a dormant volcano, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. This impression of tamed wildness is reinforced whenever Christchurch’s Port Hills become visible on the horizon.
Within four hours, arrive at Mt Fitzgerald. Climb down a narrow outcrop to find a tent-sized spot below an overhang of volcanic rock. It offers shelter and views of a tamed wilderness that is making a slow comeback.