Hiker’s Log, Stardate -304174.27809487574.
It’s been a full few months of amazing views and incredible ankle sprains. I don’t know about you, but I love a good hike. Luckily for us, Christchurch is a hiking trail gold mine! Christchurch City Council even has a page with all the well-maintained tracks mapped out for your planning pleasure. A few other sites exist with similar information:
- Christchurch NZ
- Hiking NZ
- Map My Hike
- Freewalks NZ
- New Zealand.com
- Department of Conservation
- Hiking Project
Looking for an epic, “everything” tramp? Check out the Christchurch 360 Trail. It’s a walk with a lot of variety, but at 135 km, not something you can squeeze into a weekend. More of a series of hikes over a couple of months.
Why shove on a pair of hiking shoes and struggle up the side of a mountain you may ask? Well, if the exercise isn’t your cup of tea, surely the views will entice…
Hiking during dusk can be quite the visual buffet. It’s one of the few times I prefer a cloudy sky over a clear one. It gives the sun an enormous canvas. If you live in a city with its fair share of smog, this can add a dramatic effect as well…it’s the only benefit of air pollution.
Anywhere on the Banks Peninsula will have amazing views. The peaks bordering the water will have the best views and usually has the most trails.
If you have a couple of days to spend hiking I can personally recommend staying at Te Pohue Farm Stay Trails. Plenty of trails and a couple of historic sites to discover in that area. Most notably, Little Port Cooper School House.
Some of the trails you will have to share with mountain bikers. Thankfully, the Harry Ell Walkway is adjacent to Christchurch Adventure Park. This means most of the mountain bikers in the area will be braving the trails you can see in the distance, rather than sharing this trail.
The Quarry Rim track is a great short tramp if you only have 20 minutes or so to get out into the fresh air. It has a few nicely maintained lookout points as well.
If you’re wanting some beach time to listen to the waves and stick your feet in the sand, you are in luck. Most of the Christchurch coastline has trails up and down the seashore.
One of my favourite activities is going for a ride on the immaculate Bottle Lake Forest Park mountain bike trails and ending with a walk along the beach. Lots of twists and turns and jumps followed by a leisurely stroll to cool down.
Some of the area trails are marked as only mountain bike tracks or only walking tracks. So, if you want to experience them all you’re going to need a decent bike.
Being up high and looking down on the water can be a good way to see marine life and underwater geography. Don’t worry, that is seaweed and not an oil spill in the photo above.
Don’t forget to slap on some sunscreen before going out into that New Zealand sun! We have some of the quickest burn times during the summer months and the highest rate of skin cancers in the world. So, even if you have naturally brown skin, you’re still going to want some sunscreen.
The lion’s share of trail infrastructure is in good condition and well maintained. However, there are some trails with precarious bits. For example, the stairway to the big cave on Eastenders Track can be particularly tricky. Feel free to ride the line of your comfort zone, but stay safe!
A lot of times the risk, however small, is worth the reward. The Eastenders cave is great if you like having more than just a view as your destination.
Hiking has improved my sense of direction in leaps and bounds. If someone asks me to point them to the nearest track, I no longer need to pull up the maps app on my phone (usually).
Dogs like a good hike too. Probably more so than their human counterparts. Just look at that face!
If you do bring along your furry friend, be sure to take a leash in case you happen upon some friendly (or not so friendly) sheep.
Discovery is a big part of hiking. With a bit of off-track exploring on the secondary Eastenders track (right side trail) you can find what looks to be a haven for climbers hidden on the mountain side.
Wandering off the Crater Rim Track you can find some great spots to press pause on the exertion.
The Godley Head track has a few gems from World War II with expansive views to the ocean.
My original motivation for hiking was the exercise, but it has been an incredible way to get to know the area. I moved here in April (2018) and already feel at home in Christchurch. Of course, hiking wasn’t the only reason for my feeling of comfort, but it definitely helped.
Now to decide which trail to tackle next!
Got a favourite walk or hiking track? Let us know in the comments below.