The Wizards Hat – Gibraltar Rock(503m)

“On a Mish” #252 The Wizards Hat. Gibraltar Rock(503m). The Port Hills, Christchurch. 5.13.2015. The scattered remains of the once mighty Te Ara Pataka Volcano now make up Christchurch’s Ports Hills. These hills are a great place to test your legs against gravity as you hike around the undulating terrain. With Coopers Knob(573m) being the highest peak, the arrangement of volcanic debris aren’t mountains like in New Zealand’s great alps. But the Port Hills are still an excellent training ground to sharpen your skills before venturing into our mountains…

Amongst the rounded hills of both the Port Hills and Te Ara Pataka / Banks Peninsula are several volcanic plugs, each very distinctive, shaped like the Christchurch Wizard’s hat. From my parents’ home I can look towards the Port Hills and see Gibraltar Rock(503m) however, as close as the peak seems to get there, I have to get onto the Summit Road either via the city, or the road over Gebbies Pass.

The Summit Road is like Christchurch’s upstairs balcony, overseeing all goings on in the Garden City. During my days working as a car enthusiast / Bogan I used to head up the hills in a convoy of modified cars turning the usually peaceful place into a mountaintop petrol playground. How none of my mates and I disappeared over the edge is a miracle!

Cloud covering the Canterbury Plains

The city has changed a lot since those days and the devastating February 2011 earthquake. A CBD of multi-storey buildings was quickly replaced by a skyline of cranes and construction sites. The city isn’t the same as the place where I grew up, but the Port Hills are still the same (mostly!).

I came across a Port Hills climbing guidebook which had an array of climbing routes on Gibraltar Rock(503m). To get to the climbing crag we (my girlfriend and I) followed a light track on the northern side of the peak to the base of the climbing area. The scene was set for an afternoon of vertical adventures.

The climbing mission was complemented with some crazy cloud coating the Canterbury Plains on the eastern side of the Port Hills. The elevation mixed with the inversion clouds made it look like we were in an airplane soaring high above the earth. Our adventure had gone to plan, and the clouds were like a thank you gift for our effort.

If you are in Christchurch and have access to a vehicle, I highly recommend a mish up to the Wizards Hat (Gilbraltar Rock). The sights are excellent and for climbers there are many challenges found on the rocks climbing crag. Back in the day it was cars and burnouts, nowadays I enjoy scrambling and topping out. It is much more environmentally friendly, and also a much quieter way to see the hills that hang high about the Garden City

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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