Castle Hill

Famous for it's limestone rock formations and bouldering / rock-climbing

Rewi Alley memorial park: a dedicated park to Rewi alley just across the road

Kowhai Bush Reserve: a short but pleasant walk thru the black beach forest , only 6 km from Smylies.

It offers a short [ 15-45min] walk for all levels of fitness and especially enjoyable for small children,there has been snow damage in the 2006 year with trees fallen over so some care is required


Cave stream: a 362 m long cave which you can walk thru { if you don't mind getting wet} keep an eye out for weather  and read the instructions

Craigieburn Forest Park: Lots of walks for beginner to expert

korowai / MT Torlesse tusocklands Park: great walks if you want to have views

Oxford Forest: some great walks here especially when the weather on the other side is not good. Coopers creek to Ryde Falls  or View Hill to Coopers creek

Ryde Falls: easy, 2-3 hr return from View Hill

Over a stile, the Wharfedale Track passes through light beech forest. The track was originally surveyed in 1879, and constructed as a road through to Lees Valley. The route was eventually abandoned in favour of the Ashley Gorge Road, but the remaining wide, easily graded track is popular with trampers.

After around 30 minutes, a track to Coopers Creek branches off to the right. Further on, a second track branches off to the right. Leave the Wharfedale here and follow this foot track. The forest is very pretty, dominated by beech, but scattered with rimu and other podocarps. Crown ferns carpet the forest floor, and yellow and red leaved horopito add colour.

The track winds gently down to the West Branch of Coopers Creek, passing another junction and path to Coopers Creek car park after another 30 minutes. From here, the falls are about 15 minutes away. The track drops quickly down to the creek, and crosses it to a small, pleasant campsite tucked amongst the trees at a confluence. There is a toilet located nearby. This campsite would be a nice spot to stop off at (and a rewarding side trip) on the Wharfedale Track, or an easy overnight trip.

Beyond the campsite, the track continues into the trees on the true left of the left branch for a few minutes to the falls. The falls descend in three steps, all visible if you climb down into the creek bed.


Tussock lands Park 

aprox. 21000 hectares, covers the Big Ben ranges and the Torlesse Gap, which are the mountains we look at from Smylies.

It is probably one of the easiest to reach as it is divided by State Highway 73 and the Porters Pass, the old road, made in 1858 by hand is still visible. if you bring your mountain bike you can ride down both sides of the Pass and end up at the bottom ,time required between 15min and 30 min depending on ability, note however the old coach road has a small slip on the top and can be overgrown with grass and the other side is steep (advanced riders no problem) for the first couple of 100m after that gradual down with a little up and down. If you wanted to walk it you could go up the coach road and down the other side.


All these trips are routes only – unmarked and suitable for fit, experienced and well-equipped people. Maps that cover the area are Topographic Map 260 – K34, K35, L34, L35. Times are approximate and one way.

Foggy Peak and Castle Hill Peak

From the car park at the top of Porters Pass, follow a well-worn trail up through low scrub and tussock and across gravel areas, towards Foggy Peak. at 1500 m there is a big flat area  good for a break ,don't be freaked out by the view up  as it is only 200 m up to foggy peak from there. Large cairns mark the way in places. (1–2 hours)

Beyond Foggy Peak, follow the broad ridge. The ridge narrows for the final climb to the trig on the summit of Castle Hill Peak. (2–4 hours)

The Gap

From Castle Hill Peak experienced parties can traverse across to The Gap. Beyond peak 1941, sidle just off the north side of the ridge until you reach the bluffs above The Gap. Descend down scree to the north for about 50m, to a shoulder that leads directly back into The Gap.

From The Gap, a scree slope and rocky ridge provide a good route down to the Kowai River. Some rock scrambling is required.

Mt Torlesse

Access is across Brooksdale Station, please ring for Permission. Follow an old vehicle track up the true right of Kowai River to opposite Kowai Hut (private). (1–2 hours)

The spur on the true right of the side stream, by the hut, is the most direct route to Mt Torlesse.The spur starts off with a gradual climb, becomes a steep ridge, and leads directly to Mt Torlesse. (3–4 hours)

If returning down the ridge, small cairns mark the top of a narrow scree that drops steeply into the side-stream.

Thirteen Mile Bush

Access is across Benmore Station, please ring for Permission. Follow up the gravel bed of Thirteen Mile Stream until in the beech forest. Markers on the true right show an entrance which sidles through the forest to Benmore Hut. (3 hours)

Climb the spur behind the hut through regenerating beech, to reach an easy tussock ridge that leads onto the north east end of the Big Ben Range.

Rabbit Hill

Trig M and rabbit hill  just over the Pass heading towards Lake Lyndon on the left hand side you will find a green DOC sign ,(room for about 3 cars) just walk on up to great views , you can also walk all the way back to the red hut at the bottom of the Pass 


Cave Stream:

A 362 m long cave which you can walk thru { if you don't mind getting wet} keep an eye out for weather  and read the instructions

From the car park two tracks lead to the cave entrances. A short trail goes north to the upstream entrance, through a diverse karst (limestone) landscape of solution holes, rillenkarren (water grooved rocks) and sculptured rock formations. The other track leads to the edge of a terrace overlooking the outflow entrance of the cave. It continues down the face of the terrace to the junction of Cave Stream and Broken River.

Going through the cave

The cave passage meanders and twists in pitch darkness for 362 metres between the two entrances. It takes approximately one hour to go through. There is a three metre waterfall at the inlet end. If care is taken, fit, inexperienced cavers can go through.

Caving parties should have at least two reliable lights per person, warm polypropylene or wool clothing, and sturdy footwear.

Cavers are recommended to enter the cave at the outflow end and walk against the flow of the stream. To assist climbing out the inlet end of the cave, a rung ladder ascends beside the waterfall. A chain and steps help to get along the overhang ledge to the exit.

Scour holes, terraces and small waterfalls can be seen while going through the cave.

Watch the water level in the cave. It varies and can be quite deep in places. Normally the deepest section (at the first corner from the cave outlet end) is just above waist level on an adult. If the stream is abnormally high, with the water dis-coloured or foaming, do not attempt to enter.

Cave Stream map     castle hill canterbury

cave stream        precious wildlife