The Sugarloaf Leg of the Christchurch 360 Trail runs from the Halswell Quarry Park to the Mt Cavendish Gondola station.
The track is approximately 18.2 km long, and could take a typical walker as much as 12 hrs.
If you want a convenient spot to split the leg in two, the Sign of The Kiwi is a good place. This forms two legs of 9.6km (6hrs) and 8.6km (5hrs 45 mins).
Description of Route
You can find a Google Map of the route here.
The trail starts at the Withers Carpark at the Halswell Quarry Park.
Take the track that heads up west behind the old stone house. This trail climbs up and around the west of the old quarry. It circles around it to the south, then at the eastern end of the quarry the track heads off to the right. The track then opens into a large park area. Climb the stile, and head east across the park to the reserve strip with a zig-zag path that exits onto Kennedys Bush Rd. Continue along Kennedys Bush Rd to the very end, where there is a gate and stile. Climb the stile, and continue up the Kennedys Bush Track. The track climbs up to the Summit Road.
Cross the Summit Rd, and follow the track that heads east and along near the Summit Rd, skirting to out near the bluffs, and climbing up the hill alongside the road through the Hoon Hay Scenic Reserve. The Crater Rim Walkway then descends to rejoin the Summit Rd near the intersection with Worsleys Rd. Cross the Summit Rd here, and follow the track along the western side of the road. When you get to a small shingle carpark, cross the Summit Rd again, and follow the Crater Rim Walkway east of the road. Keep following the Crater Rim Walkway all the way to Dyers Pass and the Sign of The Kiwi.
Cross Dyers Pass Road very carefully. It is difficult to see any traffic coming from either side of the saddle.
Take Mitchells Track to the south of the Sugarloaf peak. There are a couple of lookout deviations that are worth checking out. Follow this route east until you reach the Summit Rd again. Here you rejoin the Crater Rim Walkway.
The route then turns towards the north-east generally, climbing the hills just above the Summit Rd. It then climbs up to the top of Mt Vernon, before zig-zagging down to meet the Summit Rd again at another carpark.
The Crater Rim Walkway continues on along the Summit Rd before climbing and skirting around Witch Hill. The track meets the Summit Rd at another car park, before continuing on, following along the Summit Rd on one side then the other. The track goes around the Tors Scenic Reserve to the north, between the tors and the road. Keep following the Crater Rim Walkway, and you will get to the Bridle Path saddle. The stone shelter here is the Pioneer Womens’ Memorial.
From the Bridle Path car park, continue on the Crater Rim Walkway to the east. Where it forks, the Christchurch 360 Trail follows the Gondola Track, not the Mt Cavendish Bluffs track. The latter carries on under the Cavendish Bluffs, and emerges at the carpark at the end of this segment, so it might be considered as an alternative route. The Christchurch 360 Trail follows the Gondola Track so that walkers can make use of the Gondola as a means of accessing the trail.
Continue up the Gondola Track, up to the Gondola upper station. Here you can get a ride down the hill to get back into the city, if you wish. Otherwise, carry on down the hill to the east to the car park, where you will find the sign marking the end this leg of the Christchurch 360 Trail and the start of the Godley Cliffs leg.
You need not tackle the entire leg in one go, if you do not have the time or the strength. There are a number of places where the Sugarloaf Hills leg runs closely to the road network, and there are several places where you will be able to park up and start the walk at intermediate points.
Here are natural segments for the walk, with approximate walking times between these points.
End of Kennedys Bush Rd: There is streetside parking just past the roundabout at the end of Kennedys Bush Rd.
Summit Rd, at top of Kennedys Bush Track: There is a small shingle area where cars can pull off the road.
Summit Rd, car park near Worsleys Rd:
1.6km 1.2 hrs
Summit Rd, car park near Sign of The Kiwi:
Summit Rd, car park east of Mt Sugarloaf, at the top of the Bowenvale Valley:
Summit Rd, car park east of Mt Vernon, at the top of the Rapaki Track:
Bridle Path Track saddle: There is no vehicle access here at the moment due to Summit Rd closures to vehicles, but you can walk up the 2.3km (1.5 hrs) Bridle Path track from the carpark next to the Gondola lower station.
End: There is a carpark on the Summit Rd just to the east of the Mt Cavendish upper Gondola station.
Traffic: The Christchurch 360 Trail passes alongside some narrow rural roads; keep alert for traffic that may pass by when you are on such roads. There are places where it is necessary to cross roads. Please use caution at all times around traffic.
Cycles: The Christchurch City Council will not allow us to promote the Christchurch 360 as a cycling route, because a route promoted as a cycling route might be perceived by some users as having an implied suitability for cycling that could reduce their level of safety awareness, and as the Christchurch 360 Trail does not follow streets that meet standards required for cycleways, cyclists may be exposed to unacceptable risks. Because of that, we are not permitted to mark or recommend a cycle route option for the Christchurch 360. If you choose of your own initiative to follow the Christchurch 360 on your bike, please ride safely and responsibly, and follow the road rules.
Rockfall: Several points on the trail are subject to the risk of rockfall. The chances of rockfall that could injure you are small, but it would be wise to not linger in areas with rocky bluffs above the trail. Move as swiftly through these areas as you can, and if you are concerned about the risk of rockfall, take an alternate route.
Bluffs: The trail passes near bluffs. There are spectacular vistas from these spots, but please exercise caution around the edges of cliffs, especially when the wind is blustery.
Mountain Bikers: Some of the trails are shared-use with walkers and cyclists. Check signage to see if cycles or walkers have right-of-way. Note that even if cycles are expected to give way to walkers, sometimes this is easier said than done; please exercise caution and show consideration to other track users.
Dehydration: There are few opportunities to obtain fluids on the summit of the Port Hills, and it can be especially hot in summer. Ensure you pack sufficient water for the journey.
Hypothermia/Exposure: You will rarely be very far from civilisation, so the risk of severe hypothermia is low. However the weather can change quickly, so carrying a windbreaker or raincoat is sensible.
Things to see
Sign of the Kiwi
View towards Quail Island
Bush Head habitat restoration area
Pioneer Women’s Memorial
Take a ride through history in the Time Tunnel. Look out at the amazing vistas over the city and harbour. A pair of powerful coin-operated binoculars is available. Castle Rock, the tor to the west of the Gondola, was badly shaken in the February and June 2011 earthquakes, and lost a substantial amount of rock in rockfall. The jutting rock which helped give it the name Castle Rock, looking like an old castle keep, has now gone. You can see rock debris scattered down the hillside.
Flora & Fauna
Bellbird/Korimako Anthornis melanura:
The bellbird’s loud, melodious song can be heard in bush along the coast and waterways and in trees and patches of bush in the Port Hills. Bellbirds are easier to hear than see, as their dark olive plumage makes it easy for them to blend in to the surrounding foliage.
Bellbirds feed on nectar, insects and fruits, and they play an important role in pollinating native plant species.
The bellbird is endemic to New Zealand.
Fantail/Piwakawaka Rhipidura fuliginosa:
This friendly native is recognised by its long tail, acrobatic flight and tinny cheep. Fantails feed on insects in bush and shrub and are found in many different habitats. If you walk through bush and there are fantails nearby, they will come and check you out. Photos are difficult, however, as fantails seldom stay in one place for more than a moment.
There are two morphs. The most well-known, the pied morph, is dark brown, with a cream-coloured belly and black and white bands. The black morph is dark brown all over, with no banding and a white spot behind each eye. About a quarter of South Island fantails are black.
Silvereye or Waxeye/Tahou Zosterops lateralis:
The silvereye is slightly smaller than a sparrow, with an olive head, grey and buff body and a distinctive white ring around each eye. Young birds do not have the white rings. They have a quiet, high-pitched call.
The silvereye was first recorded in New Zealand in the 1830s and has since spread throughout both islands. Silvereyes tend to flock in flowering bushes. They eat insects, nectar and fruit.
New Zealand Pigeon/Kereru Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae:
A much larger bird than the common rock pigeon, the New Zealand Pigeon has an iridescent green and purple head and back, bright white bib and belly and red bill and legs. When in flight, their wings make a distinctive heavy whirring sound
The kereru feeds on fruits and is an important disperser of the seeds of native plants.
In Christchurch, the Kereru is found mainly in and around the Botanic Gardens and Riccarton Bush, but they can occasionally be found in patches of bush in the Port Hills, especially near Victoria Park and the Cashmere Hills.
Pukeko Porphyrio porphyria:
Pukeko are often seen alongside waterways and in paddocks. It has blue and black plumage, a red bill and shield and long red legs. Pukeko eat mostly vegetation, but will eat eggs, invertebrates and other small animals.
Pukeko chicks are black and fluffy, with their parents’ large feet.
Food & Refreshments
The bus that runs closest to the start of the leg at Halswell Quarry is the 100 bus, which terminates its run by looping around the Larsens Rd, School Rd, Kennedys Bush Rd, and Glovers Rd block. This bi-direction route runs west wide of the CBD, before swinging east to the north of the CBD and ending up at The Palms mall in Shirley. It could be used to get onto the Orange Line route, where you can change buses.
The Orange Line route runs between Halswell and Queenspark, bi-directionally, via the central bus exchange.
No buses run along the Summit Rd, but the 28 and 535 Buses visit the carpark at the Gondola lower station, and you can ride the Gondola up to the top of Mt Cavendish near the end of the leg.
Bus 28 is a bi-directional route between Lyttelton and Papanui, via the central bus exchange.
Bus 535 is a bi-directional route between Lyttleton and Eastgate mall.
Nearby Points of Interest
Sister City Gardens
Sign of the Bellbird
Memorials to Lost Boys
Bridle Path Track