Trig M was the goal, chosen for its' proximity to Oxford, ease of access, and that it offered a short, easy route to the tops with good views, despite its' modest height of 1251m.
We made the scenic drive along SH73, over Porters Pass, to the small layby on the western side of the pass just before reaching Lake Lyndon.
From the carpark the track snaked its way up the hillside, following a well formed (and obviously regularly used) 4WD track. It was mostly a quite gentle gradient, increasing to moderate steepness for short sections, and allowed good progress to be made on the climb up to the ridgeline, which was reached at about the 1050m contour.
The ridge is easily followed, the route being well marked with poles, and takes an undulating ramble along the tops passing over or just beneath a couple of small bumps on the ridge before the final climb up to Trig M itself. If you're carrying the newer Topo50 map, then Trig M is marked as Pt 1251m, with the trig code AA41 (grid reference BW21 954040).
We enjoyed lunch in the sun at the summit, taking in views south down the Acheron River all the way to the Rakaia valley, with Mt Hutt and nearby peaks standing beyond. Below us sat Lake Lyndon, wedged between where we sat and Mt Lyndon directly across from us, while to the north and west the long stretch of the Craigieburn Range, capped by recent spring snow, reached out as far as the eye could see, and away to the east lay the flat Canterbury Plains with Christchurch just visible through the haze in the distance.
It was amazing to be able to take in so much country from such a modest, and so easily accessible, summit.
From Trig M, parties looking for a longer trip can continue along the ridge to Rabbit Hill. This section is not marked at all, and in poor visibility care needs to be taken to stick to the correct ridge as there are numerous bumps and spurs leading off the main ridge.
We took the same route back to the car, doing it in about half the time of our ascent - Julia relishing the almost total downhill nature of the return leg. Other options for an alternative trip back could be to drop down one of the many spurs leading off the main ridge down to Lake Lyndon, most of these appear to provide good routes down, or you can take the Old Coach Road, which leaves the main ridge about halfway along and drops down into Coach Stream before exiting at the hairpin bend on the highway at the foot of Porters Pass on its' eastern side - a car shuffle is recommended (unless you want to climb back over the pass on foot!).
All in all, a fun half day outing, ideal for those just starting out in tramping, for those looking to introduce kids to the wonders of the backcountry, or for those just wanting a nice easy day out in the hills as a break from the rigours of more arduous tramping - I highly recommend it.
|Looking towards Porters Pass on the climb up to the ridgeline|
|Porters Pass, with Foggy Peak (1741m) rising on the left|
|Selfie! - not easy with a heavy camera|
|Julia excited to be out tramping again|
|Lake Lyndon, with Mt Lyndon, Cloudy Hill and the snow-capped Craigieburns beyond|
|First view of Trig M (1251m), seen just left of centre|
|Pausing to take it all in|
|Majestic scenery from the ridge below Trig M|
|Arriving at the summit|
|Summit trig, Foggy Peak and Torlesse Range in the background|
|Looking down Macfarlane Stream towards Christchurch|
|Red Hill (1641m, at left), Blue Hill (1946m, rear, snow covered), and Mt Lyndon (1489m, right)|
|View north from Trig M|
|Pleasant spot for lunch, Mt Hutt Range and Rakaia valley in the distance|
|Posing at the trig, with the Torlesse Range providing the backdrop|
|Easy descent off Trig M|
|Cloudy Hill (1442m, in front), Mt Enys (2194m), Carn Brea (2090m), and Mt Cloudsley (2107m)|
|Looking towards Ben More|
|Along the ridge, just below Pt 1170m, with Foggy Peak looking good|
|Great day to be in the hills|
|Final section of ridge, aiming for the dip in ridge right of centre - spot Julia|
|Panorama of Mt Hutt and Black Ranges, from the summit of Trig M|
|Crown Copyright - Land Information NZ|
Time: Carpark to summit 1hr 30mins, return 45mins
Map: BW21 Springfield