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The Pipeline of Pain, Canterbury

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The Pipeline of PainIntermediate

Submitted by Tony Sharpe

Info Info
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Trail Information







Urban fringe


Very hilly

Native bush
Open tussock/grasslands
Open ridges/tops


1:15 (Slow)
1:00 (Moderate)
0:45 (Fast)



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Here's one for the slightly masochistic. 'The Pipeline' is a classic Christchurch gutbuster, often used by sports teams training for new seasons, walkers wanting a bit more grunt, and even the odd mad trail runner.

Leave the carpark and head straight up the Bridle Path a few hundred metres to the first hairpin bend. Here you will be eyeballing the LPG gas pipeline that heads straight up a steep ridge. Yes- this IS your route- simply follow the pipeline to the Summit Road. Hop the fence and away you go, there is a pretty well defined trail but your calves will soon feeeeeeeeel the burn as you crawl up!

It might only be 1km to the Summit Road, but most people will take 10-15 minutes to grovel, clamber and gut-bust their way up. Once you've hopped the fence at the top and caught your breach follow the Summit Road around to the Bridle Path summit and take the downhill towards the Lyttelton Port. Spare a thought for those early settlers who got off the First Four Ships and panted their way up this hill with all their worldly belongings all those years ago.

About 3/4 of the way down you will spot a knobby outcrop to the right side of the trail. Pick up the unmarked side track that heads to the right off the Bridle Path here. This technical wee section will zigzag a descent down to the Lyttelton Harbour side of the gas pipe, diving in and out of native regeneration as it gradually drops its way to the lower sections of the pipeline before it hits Harmans Road. take note, it can get very slippery in here after wet weather - you have been warned!

Just before the pipeline hits Harman's Road there is a signpost marking the Stan Helms track, accessed by a large stile over the pipeline. Stan Helms is your friendly return back up the hill to the Summit Road again, initially zig-zagging and then steepening up a rocky ridge before it sweeps around onto the top. Nice technical trail uphill, with fabulous views.

The final section is the rapid descent down the Heathcote side of the Bridle Path where you complete your historic journey, and get to eyeball the mighty pipeline again on the way past. If you are especially keen you could always go up again!

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Features of interest

250m of vertical just in the first 1km
Classic views of Christchurch and Lyttelton
The Historic Bridle Path

Make Up of Run

Technical Single Track: 50%

Moderate Single Track: 30%

Easy Single Track: 20%

Route Data


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Wild Explorers

I did it!
  • Access

    Base of Bridle Path. Heathcote Valley

    Park at the start of the track, or just down the road if its full

    10 km

    19 minutes



  • Staying Safe


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

    If you keep touching the pipeline you can't get lost! On the rest its pretty well defined.

    Perfect throughout.

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

    You can fill up at the bottom of the Bridle Path (start)

    In winter it can occasionally get a bit icy or a bit muddy.

    As noted, take good grippy soles if its been wet, especially for the trail descending the Lyttelton side.

  • Post run indulgence

    Christchurch Gondola
    Mt Cavendish.
    Take the ride from the run finish line, or divert up to the Top Station for a 'free ride" and hit the cafe. Stunning views

    Valley Inn Tavern
    2 Flavell Street, Heathcote Valley
    Historic rebuilt tavern with great food and refreshments

  • Sponsor this trail

    If you are interested in learning about sponsorship opportunities, please get in touch below:


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