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Port Hills Protocol, Canterbury

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Port Hills ProtocolIntermediate

Submitted by Mike Steel

Info Info

Trail Information

32.00km

1050m

1050m

 

Canterbury

Christchurch

Urban fringe

Loop

Undulating, some big hills

Native bush
Beach
Coastal
Riverside
Open farmlands
Open tussock/grasslands
Open ridges/tops

Intermediate

6:00 (Novice)
4:00 (Intermediate)
3:00 (Elite)

-8.9%

+8.4%

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Description

From Protocol head along Centaurus Road then up Major Aitken Drive. At the first hairpin dive off onto the Coronation Reserve trail, cross the bridge and follow up the newish track up through bush. The stairs and slopes get you very quickly up to Vista Place and onto upper Hunstbury Ave.

Follow this up to the end (carpark), pop over the stile on your right and follow faint trails up, passing just a little to the left of the rocky outcrop/cabbage tree on the ridge – the trail descends slightly to a fence that leads to the long grassy flat ‘runway’ and on to upper part of the gravel road. Cross the summit road and climb up Mt Vernon for great views.

Descend east on the Crater Rim track and follow this all the way to the Bridle Track. Drop down to Lyttelton and head west past the tunnel and turn left on the Godley Quay road which leads to a rugby field. Continue on this road to the Naval Point boat club building, just to the right leads to a rocky/sandy beach. Cross this and climb up a short distance onto a wide grassy track which takes you to Corsair Bay (great swimming), then narrows to single track onto Cass Bay (toilets at both these beaches).

The trail continues beyond Cass Bay on round the coast (towards ‘Pony Point’) – follow this until you are as far out to sea as possible, at which point the track climbs steeply on an obvious/new wooden staircase. Don’t go up there - instead drop down to the sea – there’s no track, and it looks bluffed below, but carefully head down (good clumps of grass to hang onto!) tending right towards a ramp that allows you to find land below. Now you’re down with the shellfish, begin the delicate ballet dance/run along the rocky coast that leads to Rapaki beach (with its two little thermal pools).

Continue ‘running’ along the coast which becomes increasingly remote – in places it's a bit slow, but there are faster sections on sandy beach or flatish rocks . At one point the sea comes into a tight cove – it’s possible to keep your feet dry here by climbing along ledges on the right (see pic) and stepping over onto the big rock. The coastal rocky running improves a bit after this, and includes a delightful secluded sandy beach.

Beyond this there is one more obstacle where climbing seems tricky, but if the tide is low enough you might just keep your feet mostly dry by going low and jumping between rocks (if not, it’s not deep!). Continue around the coast – ignore any tracks that head up, eventually passing a couple of batches -- the running improves, and when you round a corner by a derelict wharf you’ll see a grassy trail on your right that leads into Sandy Bay (toilet here) – continue past this on the level road (not the climbing road) and take the single track trail that leads off left to the Governors Bay jetty - it stays very near the water, and pops out on the road just above the jetty.

Run up the road to the She Chocolat café – the high cliffs ahead of you are where you’re heading so maybe call in for an organic cola and some home-make chocolates! From the café you need to find Faulkner’s track. One way is to run on Main Rd towards Dyers Pass, turn left at Zephyr Terrace, left again at The Terrace and just after Hyland Brae on your right is a narrow staircase (with concrete block sides) -- there’s probably a more direct trail from below via Lighthouse Lane.

Follow Faulkner’s track up which first climbs up steeply past houses, before entering Ohinetahi reserve, and climbing more gently south for a while. The track then begins a sharp ascent, zig-zagging its way up an improbably steep slope between bluffs and briefly entering a prominent bushy gully. However, the cleverly placed track is pretty much runnable all the way (slowly) right up to the crater rim walkway. Here turn left and go up to Trig V for superb views down the harbour- then continue on that track south till it meets the Crater Rim again, and then follow the Crater Rim back – it’s pretty much all downhill to the Sign of the Kiwi (another great café here, also toilets and water) then down the Harry Ell track, past The Cup café, and down the final stretch of Dyers Pass road back to Protocol.


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Features of interest

This 32k circuit run starts and finishes at Protocol café/pub in south Colombo Street, and involves no backtracking. It can only be done around LOW TIDE, and even then you may still get wet. It passes four other fine cafes, but also takes in two summits, and a rarely visited/remote part of the Lyttelton harbour coastline, and several sandy beaches (including one with two tiny thermal pools). There’s a pumping climb up arguably the most ‘interesting’ ascent on the Port Hills (Faulkner’s Track). This run has all types of tracks (including no track at all) and all styles of running -- including no running at all! Plenty of things to see along the way (bush, beaches, rocky cliffs, seagulls, oystercatchers, ducks, shellfish).


Make Up of Run

Untracked / Route only: 10%

Technical Single Track: 15%

Moderate Single Track: 20%

Easy Single Track: 25%

Farm Road / 4WD Track: 10%

Gravel Road: 5%

Sealed Road: 15%


Route Data

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