"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you" - Isaiah 55:12

17 June 2013

Helicopter Hill, Craigieburn Forest Park - 26 September 2011

This was a pleasant, short day trip with my wife, Julia. We grabbed the opportunity for a bush walk while on a week off work, and the fact that we needed to be back to pick up kids from school dictated a short walk. There is a network of short tracks branching off the Broken River and Craigieburn Valley ski field access roads, giving numerous options for those looking for a quick escape to the hills. We chose the track to Lyndon Saddle for our trip, with the small extension of a short climb onto Helicopter Hill from the saddle promising views of the main Craigieburn Range while enjoying lunch in the sun. Recent snowfall made the trip all the more appealing, albeit cold in the shade of the bush.

The track itself was a pleasure to walk, gently winding its way up through the bush to Lyndon Saddle. The saddle is unmarked on current maps and is located NW of Helicopter Hill at grid reference BW21 963232, recognisable as it is at the major track junction marked on the map.
Heavy snow had fallen the day before our tramp and, despite being well below the bushline, snow carpeted the entire track. Ours were the first footprints of the day, unless you count the numerous trails left behind by various birds and other animals. These trails through the snow made for an interesting walk, and it really was quite remarkable to see just how far some of these small creatures range.

After about an hour and a half we reached Lyndon Saddle and turned right to make our way up onto Helicopter Hill, which a short 15 minute untracked scramble. By this time we were both hungry for lunch, so we stopped at the first sunny clearing, foregoing the summit on this occasion but still being granted grand views onto the Craigieburn Range.
Lunch was consumed while basking in gloriously warm sunshine and it would have been great to have lingered and explored further, the reality of having to pick kids up from school the only thing holding us back. A quick descent was made - Julia thriving now on the downhill leg! - and before long we were back on the highway, our short escape to the hills over.

Convenient seat for a rest & a photo on the way up to Lyndon Saddle

We're not alone in this forest!

Snack stop?

Craigieburn Range - Mt Wall (1874m) in the centre

Nice spot for lunch, just above Lyndon Saddle

Crown Copyright - Land Information NZ

Access: Take SH73 towards Arthurs Pass and turn off at the signposted Broken River Ski Area entrance.  Cars can be parked around the shelter shortly after turning off the highway.

Time: 1-1.5hrs to Lyndon Saddle, 15mins from the saddle to Helicopter Hill

Map: BW21 Springfield

Hut: None