This is a mountain tramp and people should be prepared for extremes of weather. Take a topographical map and compass.
Access to Camp Saddle can be from various directions, but crossing from Broken River to Craigieburn Valley skifield road is the easiest route.
Apart from magnificent views, this tussock and scree saddle offers many interesting botanical specimens. Growing among the rocks are tiny plants that have adapted to the harsh environment – including celmisia, gentians and edelweiss.
Time: 1 - 2 hr one way
The Broken River skifield road is the easiest way to get to Camp Saddle. From the locked gate and carpark where the road crosses Camp Stream, walk 1 km to the signposted track (opposite the ski club tractor shed). A wide four-wheel drive track narrows as it climbs steadily towards the saddle.
Time: 1 - 2 hr one way
From Camp Saddle continue southeast along the well-defined ridge. After an hour descend steeply down a scree slope. Stay on the left of the scree to join an unmarked track through the beech forest to Lyndon Saddle. It is much easier to go down scree than scramble up it, so this trip is better done as a descent.
Time: 2 hr one way
From the Craigieburn Valley skifield carpark continue along the four wheel drive road to the bottom of the ski tows. From there cross a small stream and follow the Craigieburn Valley track through beech forest until it emerges onto a scree and scrub slope. Here you can see Camp Saddle clearly. Scramble up through the tussock and soft scree to the Saddle. This is also an easy descent route.
During the summer months there is walking access up to the ski field basins of Broken River and Craigieburn. These areas are harsh and alpine, and should be treated with respect. Beyond the bush-line there are no marked routes.
Take a topographical map and adequate clothing for the extremes of weather.
Fit trampers will be able to gain access up onto the main ridge and rocky peaks, which give superb views of the backcountry from Arthur’s Pass to Mount Cook.
Less fit walkers will enjoy the lower bush and tussock slopes. All buildings are private skifield property and should not be entered.
Time: 2 - 3 hr return, locked gate to huts
From the locked gate you can walk up the ski field road all the way to the accommodation huts, and up to the rope tows. There is also a bush track beside the inclinator (goods lift) which zig zags directly up to the huts, and a pleasant return can be made down the vehicle road.
Time: 4 - 5 hr return, ski field basin and main ridge
From the Broken River ski field huts there is a vehicle track that sidles up to the tussock basin, and there are obvious routes up onto the main ridge and onto Nervous Knob.
There are superb views down into the Hamilton-Harper catchments and on a fine day you can see as far as Mount Aoraki/Mount Cook.
Time: 5 - 6 hr return to main ridge
From the locked gate it is an easy walk up the road to the lower Craigieburn ski field huts (about 30 minutes). The access road continues up the steep valley and fit trampers can reach the 1923 metre Hamilton Peak.
It is possible to traverse the ridge to Nervous Knob and down into the Broken River ski field basin, but this is for experienced trampers and climbers only. You must arrange transport to make this crossing.
About 110 km from Christchurch on State Highway 73 towards Arthur’s Pass, is a signposted side-road to the Craigieburn Picnic Area on the Broken River ski field road. Access to Craigieburn Valley is another 1 km further along the highway. Both ski field roads have locked gates further up valley during the summer.
The summer climate of Craigieburn is usually hot and dry, but in winter snowfalls are common.
In all seasons the weather is changeable, and special care should be taken on routes above the bush-line.
Weather forecasts are available from the Met Service, or from DOC Visitor Centre at Arthur’s Pass +64 3 318 9211.
NZtopo50 maps BV20 (Otira), BV21 (Cass), BW20 (Lake Colleridge), BW21 (Springfield) cover the Craigieburn Forest Park.
There is an emergency phone at Castle Hill village, about 10 km on the main highway towards Christchurch.
There have been reports of cars being broken into and disabled at track ends.