With a comfortable climb just shy of two hours, Woolshed Hill offers hikers an easily accessible trip with sublime views. By Lisa Ainley
From the road end, head up the small bank toward the trees and the Hawdon River, where there is a sign pointing to the Hawdon River Track. At this point, off to the right, is another sign indicating the start of the track to Woolshed Hill (1429m).
The track pleasantly meanders its way through the forest for about 500m to the site of Kidson Lodge.
Cross the clearing, staying on the left and at the far side, is a white pole with a DOC marker on it. Head left and begin the ascent.
It is a pulse pumping start, but the gradient eases slightly after about 100m, but don’t be fooled into thinking the quad-burning bits are over. The track weaves its way amongst the trees while steadily climbing up the hill.
It’s wide enough in most places to be able to ease the pulse rate by slightly zig-zagging. A small creek is crossed just shy of one kilometre into the journey. Not big enough to get the feet wet, but enough to be able to fill a water bottle if required.
The climb continues steadily, with a few respites along the way. Pt942 is passed uneventfully, but around 1.8km, at around 1000m, the undulations become longer and shortly after the track emerges from the bush to some awe-inspiring views. Farther along, walkers are rewarded with stunning views of Mt Valiant.
The track ends here and trail markers sporadically indicate the route to the summit with rock cairns filling in the gaps.
Stay on the shingle and hug the bush line till reaching an unmarked tarn south of Pt1296. To the left of the tarn an obvious trail leads through the scrub.
From here, the journey is marked by cairns. Carry on over Pt1292, staying to the right and hugging the bushline. The views of the ridge to come may appear daunting, but it is wider than it looks from below and by keeping close to the bushline, those with no head for heights will be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is.
There are a few rocky outcrops, but they’re easily navigated around.
Once off the shingle, a final push up a tussock-covered hill is all that remains to reach the summit and breathtaking 360-degree views. A distinctive trail runs along the tree line and, at the last of the trees, looking up, there is a cluster of five distinct bushes to aim for. Once past, it is a matter of metres to Woolshed Hill summit.
The Waimakariri River, Lake Pearson and a plethora of peaks are but a few of the features visible from here.