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South Canterbury

  • 6 min read

South Canterbury

High country wilderness, foothills and plains, braided rivers and wild coastline. Numerous MTB trails near Ashburton include short and multi-day rides in Hakatere Conservation Park; a visual feast of beautiful lakes and tarns, tussock lands, river valleys and soaring mountains. The Ashburton/Hakatere River Trail is a single track network from Ashburton to the east coast.

Also only one hour from Christchurch on Inland Scenic Route 72, Methven township is nestled close to the Southern Alps. The area is full of classic rides, starting with the Methven Walkway accessible for all abilities, extending to the Hakatere Conservation Park and a lot closer to town, the Mt Hutt MTB Park. The Park is well known for its challenging downhill and has regular shuttle days as well as excellent uphill tracks.

South Canterbury Trails

Lake Emma - Lake Camp

None of the riding is particularly difficult and a young family can comfortably ride the trails together. Be sure to take a few spare tubes as some of the track is surrounded by Matagouri. From the Lake Emma car park follow the track that skirts the lake and cross the outlet (this can usually be ridden through but may require wading through). The track then edges around the bottom of the Harper Range before following the Balmacaan Stream. Ride through the stream at the mouth to the marked trail on the other side and onto Lake Camp. You can return or take the road back. To extend the ride cross through the settlement of baches and check out Lake Clearwater.


Methven Walkway

An easy bike ride mainly following grass verges beside the Rangitata Diversion Race (a hydro-electric irrigation channel) and private farmland.

The walkway commences and ends at the Methven i-SITE Visitor Centre where maps are available.

Mt. Hutt Bike Park

The park boasts a 30km+ trail network, from a family friendly XC loop to epic single track, double-black diamond technical descents and with some nice climbs to link it all together. All tracks are well maintained with berms, bridge features and jumps. But don’t let the jumps put you off; there are easy lines around all the features and jumps catering for all riders.

Mesopotamia

Nestled between the Sinclair and Two Thumb Ranges this remote area is often blasted by howling wind, rain and snow and baked in sweltering sun. Picking your day and preparing well is crucial and the reward for doing so is simply indescribable. The ride through to Royal Hut is the best part of 25km and, although possible to continue on with the station’s permission, it’s usually a return trip which is doable in a day. From the car park follow the bulldozed track up Forrest Creek. It’s a long bumpy and gradual uphill climb along a river bed so big tyres are a must.

After approximately 10km at the Felt Hut Stream, a marked track climbs out Forest Creek and into the beech forest on your right. Once you pass the private Felt Hut and exit the forest, you are greeted by the tussocklands of the Tongue and Angel spurs of the Sinclair Range. Follow a 4WD farm track leading you up a steady climb to the Bullock Bow Saddle, crossing the Felt Hut Stream multiple times. The final gut busting climb over the exposed saddle yields spectacular views of the surrounding ranges, Canterbury Plains and Rangitata River. Plummeting down the opposing scree slopes soon flattens out to a tussock covered double track that gradually descends to the Bush Stream and valley floor where you’ll find Royal Hut. Camping out gives you more time to enjoy the amazing area and views from Stag Saddle but be wary of the weather, it’s very exposed and can change quickly. The journey back is a return trip, with a solid downhill from Bullock Bow Saddles.

Ashburton - Lake Hood

A short ride along the banks of the Ashburton River to the manmade Lake Hood. The track is wide and well formed on a specific built and compacted cycle trail, to allow for dual way traffic. Take your time and enjoy a cold drink and bite to eat at the Lake House Restaurant and Bar overlooking the lake, before returning and completing the 21km loop.

Ashburton Hakatere River Trails

A new and evolving set of trails starting at the car park on the north side of the Ashburton Bridge. The trails follow the river east, all the way to the coast, approximately 25km. There are also some trails that have spread 10kms west of the bridge. The single track comes off the main coast trail, and the area is fast becoming a large single track network with bermed corners, wooden bridges and natural features.

Braided Waters Cycle Trail

The 'Braided Waters Cycle Trail' is a multi-day cycle concept under development in the region. The completed trail will enable a combination of recreational rides for up to 145km. Starting at Lake Hood, the trail will follow the braided rivers to Methven and The Mt Hutt Bike Park, then utilise a network of canals to traverse the stunning foothills landscapes looping to Mt Somers and back to Ashburton.

Ashburton Lakes

The Ashburton Lakes, in the Hakatere Conservation Park, contains multiple high country rides; from old farm 4WD tracks, that circle and connect a long list of lakes and tarns, to trails that head up river valleys and along open tops. Access to the Hakatere Conservation Park is from Mt Somers on State Highway 72. Heading west there is a small township, Lake Clearwater with small batches.

Lake Emma to Lake Clearwater

The turn off to Lake Emma is marked from Hakatere Potts Road, at the end of Ashburton Gorge Road. Hakatere Potts Rd continues onto Lake Heron.
Lake Emma and Lake Camp

Lake Emma, Lake Camp and Lake Clearwater are a short bike ride from each other. There are 4WD tracks that skirt each lake and the views are superb. None of the riding is particularly difficult and a young family can comfortably ride the trails together. Be sure to take a few spare tubes as some of the track is surrounded by Matagouri.

The track starts at Lake Emma car park and skirts the lake. Loop track of 13kms.

Linking to Lake Clearwater, exit the Lake Emma trail, head west along the main gravel road to the Lake Clearwater batch settlement. Through the camp ground at the lake edge, you’ll find a single track east from camp that crosses a foot bridge and heads around the lake’s northern shore.

Lake Clearwater

This is an 11km loop track. Topo map BX18 Lake Clearwater.

Paddle Hill Creek and Boundary Hut

Trail starts at a car park, a short distance from the turn off on the road to Lake Heron. A 4WD track heads up a vast open old river terrace, to eventually ford Paddle Hill Creek. It then passes between Mt Guy and Dogs Hill, following the creek all the way to a low saddle. You can choose to return or take a clay descent to Boundary Hut, which is tucked nicely into a sheltered spot beside Boundary Creek.

Extension to Mystery Lake

For a relaxing side trip from the original ride to Paddle Hill Creek, head up the valley between Mt Guy and the Dogs Range, to a small tarn at the very end of the west ridge of Mt Guy. This is an old 4WD track that is passed on the left on the way in, and is suitable for riding, giving access to some spectacular craggy country, totara and bush remnants. This extension is 7kms return.

Extension to Potts Hut

A gnarly extension exists with a descent to Potts Hut. The descent is a combination of loose & rocky (4WD) track and very tricky zig zags. Suitable for experienced riders and is 32kms return.

Hakatere River Trails

A new and evolving set of trails starting at the car park on the north side of the Ashburton Bridge. The trails follow the river east, all the way to the coast, approximately 25km. There are also some trails that have spread 10kms west of the bridge. The single track comes off the main coast trail, and the area is fast becoming a large single track network with bermed corners, wooden bridges and natural features.


 

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