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The North Faces, Canterbury

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The North FacesBeginner - Intermediate

Submitted by Corey Woodward

Info Info
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Trail Information







Urban fringe


Very hilly

Native bush
Plantation/exotic forest
Open farmlands
Open tussock/grasslands
Open ridges/tops

Beginner - Intermediate

6:00 (Slow)
4:00 (Moderate)
3:00 (Fast)



Currently closed due to rockfall. If you have an update please email us

The farm track through Tussock Hill Farm may close for lambing in line with other farms on the Port Hills, didn't see any signage to this effect though.\

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Starting at the Sign of the Kiwi, head over Dyers Pass road and up onto Mitchell's track. Keep running along the Crater Rim, past Rapaki track and down the Bridle Path.

Near the bottom of Bridle Path turn left into the car park by the Tunnel Firefighting Water Tanks, through a couple of farm gates and then make your way around the bottom of Tussock Hill farm. When you get to the Woolshed, go through the deer gate to the right of the shed (don't head down the hill), make your way up the valley towards Rapaki Track.

Depending on recent rainfall you may get damp feet on this section. The 4WD farm track makes a hard right switch-back. This is your turn - head straight up the hill. The gate to Rapaki Track is a very welcome sight at this stage! Cross over Rapaki Track immediately opposite the gate and you'll pick up a trail that gets you onto the Mt Vernon Valley Track.

Towards the bottom of Mt Vernon Valley take the Marette Taylor Track on your left. Follow this towards the city. At a fork take the left option up hill onto Dry Ridge Track. Once at the ridgeline, hang a left and head up to get onto the Mt Vernon Farm Track. Follow this until just before a tarn (pond) where you will head slightly right on a very lightly used narrow trail which takes you to a shelter overlooking Dry Bush Valley.

After a brief pause at the shelter drop down the hill and slightly to the right to cross over the Dry Valley Track and into the Huia Gilpin Reserve, look out of the hidden waterfall at this point. Slog your way up the reserve to meet up with the Huntsbury Track, which you will follow uphill (almost to the Summit Road) until a turnoff on your right to Bowenvale valley, zig zag your way down into the valley.

As you cross the stile into Bowenvale give yourself a pat on the back for completing a half marathon and contemplate the final climb(s) of the run. Head up to the top of Victoria Park (there's multiple ways, don't stress if you can't follow the route exactly, pick one and watch out for downhill bikes). Once at the top, drop back to Sign of the Kiwi via Thomson's Track. Easy!

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Features of interest

Volcanic outcrops, expansive views from the tops, patches of native forest, tussock lands, and a working farm.

Make Up of Run

Technical Single Track: 15%

Moderate Single Track: 32%

Easy Single Track: 11%

Farm Road / 4WD Track: 30%

Gravel Road: 12%

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

Rapaki Sugarloaf Return

Rapaki Sugarloaf Return

Length: 15.00km

Sign Of The Takahe - Rapaki

Sign Of The Takahe - Rapaki

Length: 13.00km

Whigs' Flying Fifty (WFF)

Whigs' Flying Fifty (WFF)

Length: 50.30km

VKV challenge

VKV challenge

Length: 10.00km

Gondola Gallop

Gondola Gallop

Length: 11.30km

Lava - H.ELL Loop

Lava - H.ELL Loop

Length: 10.30km

Port Hills Spur Challenge!

Port Hills Spur Challenge!

Length: 18.50km

Up Hill Down Valley

Up Hill Down Valley

Length: 10.80km

Port Hills Protocol

Port Hills Protocol

Length: 32.00km


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Wild Explorers

I did it!
  • Access

    Start from the Sign of the Kiwi

    Park up the Summit Road a bit from the Sign of the Kiwi carpark as that is now P60 and you'll be running a bit longer than that!

    10 km

    20 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    Following the description should be enough but take a printed version of the trail map to assist.

    Generally good.

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

    There are a couple of drink fountains in Victoria Park but you'll have done most of your huffing and puffing by then so carry plenty of water.

    The weather can change very quickly along the crater rim, carry appropriate clothing for all conditions. Sun protection in summer is essential, it can get very hot in the valleys.

    Around the bottom of Tussock Hill Farm the farm track has quite a few sink holes forming, be vigilant!

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See other runs nearby:

Godley Head loop
Lyttelton to Diamond Harbour
Halswell and Kennedys
Summit Walkway
The Bowenvale Elevator
The Gorsetrack Strikes Back
Rapaki Sugarloaf Return
Sign Of The Takahe - Rapaki
Port Hills Nearly Half Marathon
Horse Longitudes
Horse Latitudes
Sumner Half Heads
Whigs' Flying Fifty (WFF)
VKV challenge
Banks Peninsula Ultra Beer Run
Bottle Lake Blue Loop
Gebbies to Packhorse Romp
Hagley Figure of 8
Bowenvale / Huntsbury Loop
Avon City Loops
Avon - Source to Surf
Okuti to Hilltop Amble
Gondola Gallop
Orton Bradley Loop
The ATH (Around The Harbour)
Lava - H.ELL Loop
Travis Wetland Loop
Punk Rock Assault On Windsor Castle
The Guv'nor & His Birds
The Crater Rim
Lava Lite
Takahe Half
North New Brighton Spit
Mt Pleasant Trig
God's Con - Rehab Road
Gang of Four
Dog Sniffing Rhythms - Harbour Crusin'
Trinity - Harbour Bruisin'
Gates Of The East
Hunting Out A Gorge-ous Loop
Lyttelton Dress Circle
A Diamond in the Rough
Port Hills Spur Challenge!
Up Hill Down Valley
The Coffee Run
Pour Some Sugarloaf On Me
Never Trust A Crocodile
Lyttelton Semi-Circle
Hagley Perimeter
Holliss Stairway to Heaven
Diamond, Herbert & Fitzgerald
Barnett Bunker Buster
The Pipeline of Pain
Mt Vernon Farm Track
Vicki Vale
Heathcote River Run - Opawa to Hoon Hay
Christchurch 360 Trail - Sugarloaf Hills Section
Little Learner Loop (Halswell Quarry)
Bird to Bird
Port Hills Protocol
O'Farrells For Shore
The Governator
Heathcote Meander
Spitting Distance
Montgomery Loop
Canterbury Agricultural Park Loop
2 Sugars, 2 Vernons & a Half Shot
Quail Island Looping
The Chairlift Choice
Tussock Hill Ridge
Mt Pleasant Elevator
McLeans Meander
Girdle the Groynes
Governator 2 - Judgement Day
Christchurch 360 Trail - Godley Cliffs Section
Westmorland Wetland Time Trial
Loopy in Siberia
Westmorland Hill Reps
360 Trail - Dunes Wetlands Section
Rocking Gibraltar
Dune Bugging
Hey Sisters!
Living Springs Loop
Springing Around Longhurst
Lady Isaac Loop
The Missing Link
Beer Bum Bluffs
Brooklands for the Birds.
Surf's Up!!!
Styx Pick Me Up
Orton Odyssey
Shoeing the Horse
Tauhinu-Korokio TKO
Double Top
Beginner's Adventure Park Loop
Boulder Dash
Clan of the Cave Runner
Taiora Track
Landfill Lark
Morgans Baa Baa Loop
Mary Had a Little Lamb
Horsing Around
Port Hills 8-Attack
Pinecone Pirate - Waitākiri/Bottle Lake Forest Park
Takahe to Taylors
Tai Tapu - Sacred Boundary
Blackhill Hut Buster

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