Last Updated: 27th Jan 2024

Intermediate - Experienced

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I've done it Done

Torlesse Traverse

Darfield, Canterbury

Submitted by Mike Steel

Last Updated: 27th Jan 2024

Intermediate - Experienced

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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 62 ?

Gnarl Factor: 86 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible




Open farmlands

Open tussock/grasslands

Open ridges/tops

Run Makeup


Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Untracked / Route only

Average Uphill Gradient: +21.0%

Average Downhill Gradient: -21.8%


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Estimated Times to Run







After dropping the bike/car at the pass, drive back down the hill (east), park, and run up the Kowhai valley track. At the hut, cross the stream and fill up with plenty of water before beginning the sporty ascent straight up the obvious nearby ridgeline towards the summit of Mt Torlesse (2 hours run from the road).

Then commence the long traverse 'run' along the range, crossing over Junction and Red Peaks, after which the ridge narrows. It is possible to stay on the ridge almost all the way to The Gap, with some easy scrambling and one exposed short down-climb. Just before The Gap drop east down a gully and traverse to the Gap, pass through it (north) and climb the northern side back up onto the ridge (directly, or sidle a little further where it's less steep). From here its a straightforward plod up to Castle Peak, then a delightfully exhilarating run most of the way back (there's one short climb up Foggy peak) and down soft scree trails back to the bike/car, for the final 'blow the cobwebs out' descent back to the start.

This trail includes the peaks Foggy Peak, Mount Torlesse, Castle Hill Peak, Red Peak and Junction Peak.

Excellent views of the alps and plains, as well as a close-up encounter with the "The Gap" - a prominent feature as viewed from the West Coast highway.

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38 km

27 minutes


Name: Brooksdale Station
Telephone: 03 318 4748


A trip for fine weather and good visibility. It is possible to drop off the ridge back to the Kowhai valley at various places if necessary.

Generally good.

Thermal leggings, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival blanket, Cellphone, Map

No water at all after you leave the valley - take plenty (2 litres) from the stream by the hut.

Not feasible in winter as a run (under heavy snow). Also, no fun at all in a strong nor-wester, or in thick easterly cloud.
Take some warm clothes - you're at close to 2000m on an exposed ridge for some time (keeping your feet dry
at the stream crossing by the hut can help, or perhaps carry plastic bags and/or dry insoles).

Sheffield Pie Shop
Awesome pies! But closes early (4pm)

Trail Legend


mr sa

has completed Torlesse Traverse once in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

A memorable day out! I wont lie, it was hard, but the views and achievement were hugely rewarding. I went with a bunch of other (slightly faster) wild things and we had a great time! It was a bonus that one of the group had already negotiated 'The Gap' so it much more straight forward than I had imagined it might be - still a lot of scree scrambling and hard work though. Would highly recommend taking at least 2.5 litres of water + plenty of food, its a long day.

Laura Richards

April 11, 2022

A great day out, plenty of satisfying ridge running and some airy scrambling though the rock quality deteriorates towards the gap. Long slog of first ridge but great views all the way to keep you entertained and it's never super steep just sustained. Scree can get a bit annoying in places as quite rough.

Chad Harrison

February 23, 2021

A great day out. Like few others have already commented; mini gaters were priceless, and I found poles very useful. We spent quite a bit of time on the ridge before the gap, trying to pick a way through the bluffs (without success as I don't enjoy much exposure!). If I was to do it again, I think I would drop down from the saddle just after pt 1714, and do a low sidle, entering the gap from below. Thanks for the route description!

Steve Hanmer

February 1, 2020

Massive day - but amazing! met some back country skiiers at the gap and was close enough to a paraglider at the top of Castle Peak Hill to call out to each other and wave as he flew by. I took Richard's advice above and took running putties which was a great call, and took poles which were also lifesavers especially with quite a bit of snow. Recommend!

Simeon Whyle

September 28, 2018

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