Barbwire and Bush Bashing – Saddle Hill(841m)

“A Mish a Day” #216 Saddle Hill(841m). Te Ara Pataka/Banks Peninsula. 5.4.2014. The undulating remains of the once 1500 meter-plus volcano that stood east of Otautahi / Christchurch now has many small peaks to occupy any hiker’s spare time. A lot of the peaks in Banks Peninsula have tracks taking you to the top (or near it), as well as hiker accommodation for overnight adventures. On the western side of Akaroa Harbour is the small settlement of Wainui, and above this is Saddle Hill(841m)…

On a visit to Christchurch near the end of the summer hiking season, I got the opportunity to go to my Aunty and Uncle’s farm, Torcross, located on the eastern side of Saddle Hill(841m). My uncle wanted someone to check the fence-line that runs south to north from Peraki Saddle(578m), directly over the top of Saddle Hill(841m), and ends near Wainui Pass(525m). Not being one to turn down an opportunity for a hike in the hills, I was joined by the old man (Jeremy).

An early-ish start from Christchurch had us cruising alongside Akaroa Harbour in the early hours of the morning, and after a quick morning tea break at the farm’s homestead we got ready to check out this impressive fence-line. We started hiking from Peraki Saddle, and to get there we had to drive back down to Wainui, then follow Jubilee Road up to the Saddle. After some bush-bashing we got onto the southern end of Saddle Hill(841m), and the going got a lot easier. It wasn’t long before we got to Saddle Hill’s south peak, and from here to the summit we were on exposed volcanic rock. We felt very lucky as we took in the spectacular view from the top, and we knew that not many people had experienced looking over Akaroa Harbour from this aspect. Along with a near bird’s eye view down into the massive harbour, we could also see the brown waters of Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere, and the choppy Pacific Ocean in Canterbury Bight. We traversed over the two peaks of Saddle Hill(841m), and then began to scramble down the north side, as we continued to follow the fence. We reached the end of the fence-line, and at this point I studied the map on my GPS, and it looked like we could travel down a steep ridge through the forest. Then this would eventually take us back to the farm house. After looking at the forest that we needed to negotiate initially, Jeremy decided that we should keep traveling north, and pick up the farm track near Wainui Saddle. Things got off to a rough start immediately, as when I went to climb over the fence to join Jeremy on the other side, my pack got hooked on a tree branch, and I then got caught by the nasty barb-wire on the top of the fence-line. After a couple of plasters, and a few four-letter words, we were on our way again. Traveling north gave us a very cool view of Wairewa/Lake Forsyth and the small settlement at Little River., and got us to the top of one of the many farm tracks cut into the Torcross hillside. It was here that our mission ended, as we hitched a ride on my Uncle’s quad bike back to the house. No signs of the barbwire scratches, and still having great memories of our hike, made it all worthwhile. And now that my Uncle has moved on from Wainui, I know I was very lucky to have the opportunity to stand on top of Saddle Hill(841m).

Wainui and Akaroa Harbor from Saddle Hill(841m)

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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