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Helicopter Hill, Canterbury

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Helicopter HillBeginner

Submitted by Katie Smith

Info Info
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Trail Information






Castle Hill Village

Front country - easily accessible


Undulating, small hills only

Native bush
Plantation/exotic forest


1:30 (Slow)
1:00 (Moderate)
0:45 (Fast)



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Fastest Known Times (FKTs)

This guide was amended in Feb 2021 to make the climb of Helicopter Hill a mandatory for FKT qualification. Tag the cairn or miss out!

NB all pre-Feb 2021 FKTs that did not include the summit have been wiped - sorry about that!

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This loop can be started from the Craigieburn Ski field road or from the Broken Hill ski field road - park at the campsite - and can be run in either direction. This route describes heading clockwise from the east end of the Sidle 73 track.

Head southwest along the Sidle 73 track. This is a dual-use mountain bike track, so keep an eye out. The tracks are usually closed to bikers over the winter. Initially the track winds through pine forest before transitioning into beech forest with a short switchbacked descent. Just after this the track forks - keep right to stay on the loop, or head left to access the Craigieburn DoC campsite/toilets/water. This is where you would access the loop if you start on the Broken River road.

From here the track climbs steadily through beech forest for a couple of kilometres before popping out at Lyndon Saddle. This part of the track is closed to mountain bikes. 
Turn right and climb towards the summit of Helicopter Hill - a steep 5-10 minute track takes you onto its open top for great views.

After drinking in the views return to Lyndon Saddle and turn right. After half a kilometre keep right and sidle steadily downhill until the track meets the gravel ski field road. Follow this for about a kilometre to finish the loop.

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Features of interest

Beautiful native beech forest.

Make Up of Run

Moderate Single Track: 10%

Easy Single Track: 80%

Gravel Road: 10%

Route Data


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Overlapping Runs

The following trails overlap with this run to some degree. You may wish to combine them but please note that to qualify for FKTs on these runs you should record a separate Strava activity for each


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  • Access

    Turn off SH73 between Castle Hill and Arthur's Pass - head up the Craigieburn ski field road and after 300m park on the left side of the road by the DoC sign for Sidle 73

    Daily bus between Christchurch and Greymouth will drop you anywhere along the route if you ask nicely, but limited return options on the same day! At the start of the Sidle 73 track parking is limited, but if you head another few hundred metres up the ski field road there is ample parking (before the metal boom which is locked outside of ski season).

    9 km

    9 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    Make navigation of this route super-easy by using the Capra app on your phone. View on Capra .

    Basically keep right at every junction.

    Very patchy.

    Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map.

    Water is available from two creeks on the route, or from the DoC campsite if you detour to the Broken River road.

    Snow on Helicopter Hill and open bits of track through winter
    Generally quite sheltered in beech forest

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