Last Updated: 17th May 2024


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Helicopter Hill

Castle Hill Village, Canterbury

Submitted by Katie Smith

Last Updated: 17th May 2024


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Grunt Factor: 13 ?

Gnarl Factor: 22 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible


Undulating, small hills only

Dog Friendly

Native bush

Plantation/exotic forest

Run Makeup


Gravel Road

Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +14.0%

Average Downhill Gradient: -14.2%


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Estimated Times to Run







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.

This trail includes the peak Helicopter Hill.

Beautiful native beech forest.

If you know of any public toilets near the trail start or on the route, please login and then let us know so we can update this section.

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




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

Trail Legend

Rachel Purcell

Rachel Purcell

has completed Helicopter Hill twice in the last year.

Learn about Trail Legends.

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!

You and Helicopter Hill

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Trail Reviews

Hiked it with the baby (in the backpack) and the dog. Great wee loop - nice beech forest and lovely views at the top. Will definitely do it again in the future, especially if we were staying in Castle Hill.

Matt Halverson

September 3, 2023

Started in the cloud and climbed above it ⛅️ Enjoyed breakfast at the top as it cleared. Awesome track

Lauren Mai Anderson

March 10, 2022

Slow tough grind to the top, especially in the snow but great views at the top. An awesome run with beautiful beech forests and nice downhill running.

Jeremy Wheeler

August 12, 2021

Magical run through the forest and onto a rocky outcrop with wickward views. Short and sharp, excellent bang for your buck!

Julie Williamson

May 12, 2021

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These overlap with this trail 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 activity for each.

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