Mount Thomas

Mt Thomas Forest

  • 1 hr – 3 hr 30 min
  • Loop track
  • Easy/medium

Located at the edge of the Canterbury Plains, Mount Thomas is a good day trip from Christchurch with views of the Puketeraki Range inland, and the Pacific Ocean and Banks Peninsula to the east. Along with the summit tracks, there are several shorter loops as well as picnicking and camping space.

mount thomas • By sniper_nz. Licence: C.
Key information
Time
1 hr – 3 hr 30 min
Distance
8.0km
Type
Loop track
Loop track
Grade
Easy/medium
Access
Bookings
No bookings — open access
No — open access
Starts
Wooded Gully Camping and Picnic Area, Hayland Road, west of Loburn
Distance from you: ()
Other
Altitude
330m – 1,023m
Altitude change 693m
Maps
NZTopo50-BW23

Mount Thomas Forest occupies the wedge of Canterbury foothills from the Ashley to the Okuku Rivers. At 1023 metres (around the maximum height for the foothills) Mount Thomas itself is a distinct peak on Christchurch's skyline.

There are three routes up Mount Thomas:

  1. The Summit Track follows the spur to the east of Wooded Gully through pine plantation forest. A prosaic and relatively steep route, but a quick way down from the summit. The bottom of the track is currently hard to find due to logging operations, which may be a problem if you want to walk up it.
  2. The Ridge Track follows the spur to the west, and starts about 500m farther along the shingle road. Starting in pine plantation, the track climbs into beech forest.
  3. The Wooded Gully Track meanders up the valley floor before climbing to a bush saddle on the ridge northwest of Mount Thomas. This is the most interesting route.

The route described here follows the Wooded Gully Track to the ridge, then the Summit Track onward to the summit and back down.

Access

From Christchurch drive through Rangiora and on to Loburn. Watch for a sharp left turn onto Hodgsons Road (the M34 Topomap will help you navigate). Follow the road west about 15km and turn onto the shingle Hayland Road just before the Garry River bridge.   

Mount Thomas via Wooded Gully and Summit Track

From top of the car park, follow the sign marking the Wooded Gully Track into forest. The track follows the creek through native bush, soon skirting a patch of plantation forest. Two side tracks lead off: Kereru Track to the left and Forest Track off to the right. The track begins to climb and passes the end of the Red Pine Track on the left, the last loop back to the picnic area.

After one hour the track drops quickly down to the creek and climbs just as quickly out again. Beyond here, it's a persistent climb through totara and beech forest to the bush saddle (45 min from the creek). To the left the Ridge Track returns, while to the right the Summit Track commences, climbing enthusiastically along the ridge. In less than ten minutes, the track flattens off and bursts suddenly onto the open tops. It's an easy twenty minute stroll through tussock, daisies, and turpentine scrub to the trig directly ahead.

The views are splendid: the Canterbury Plains stretch out to the south and southeast, where Banks Peninsula seems surprisingly near, and Christchurch is visible sparkling by the curve of the Pacific Ocean. To the northeast is Mount Grey with its yellow tussock top. Directly north is the forested valley of Gorge Stream, dropping to the Okuku River, with the yellow folds of the Okuku Range behind. Looking back along the ridge, The higher snowy mountains of the Puketeraki Range mark the beginnings of the Southern Alps.

The Summit Track follows the forestry road south of the trig for five minutes then veers into the pine forest (watch for the markers). The track is rather drab and steep, with the occasional view across the valley, but also patches of gorse. Curiously, it is edged with Celmisia daisies growing for much of its length. It's all over quick enough though, breaking out onto a forestry road. Keep well out of the way of any forestry operations and watch for logging vehicles. Make your way down to a major forestry road near a vehicle barrier. Head west from here until you find a marker on a bend. The car park is just through the trees to the west. If you give in to gravity, it's an hour or less down from the summit.

Walking times

  • Wooded Gully Track: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Ridge Track to summit: 20 minutes
  • Summit Track to car park: 1 hour

Other options

  • Kereru Track loop via Wooded Gully: 1 hour return 
  • Forest Track loop via Wooded Gully: 2 hours return
  • Red Pine Track loop via Wooded Gully: 3 hours return
  • Ridge Track: 5 hours one way
  • Wooded Gully Track: 1 hour 45 minutes one way
  • Summit Track: 3 hours one way
Map 
ID 401

About this track

Added 15 June 2003 by MatthewMatthew. 3 revisions, most recently 24 August 2015 by MatthewMatthew.
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