Ryde Falls

Wharfedale Track / Mt Oxford / near Christchurch, Canterbury Region (South Island), New Zealand

Rating: 1.5     Difficulty: 3
Ryde Falls

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Ryde Falls was probably the closest waterfall to Christchurch that Julie and I encountered though even then it still required about a 90-minute drive from the South Island's largest city. So it was natural for us to make this the first waterfall that we visited when we returned to New Zealand in December 2009 and January 2010 in a more South Island-focused visit. As for our impressions of the falls, it had the makings of being real impressive as it fell in three noticeable tiers (though we definitely could tell there were more, and DoC said it actually had five tiers total) with the top two tiers that we saw being pretty tall. I didn't see much in the way of this waterfall's height being measured, but that was probably because there was a lot of overgrowth that prevented all but the hardiest and most adventurous trampers willing to take some serious risks from seeing much more of the waterfall. It was that confounding circumstance that also compelled us to give the lower scenic rating score despite its potential (though in this case, it was meant to be as Nature dictated the terms of how it could be seen).

In any case, Julie and I treated this waterfalling excursion as a half-day trip from Christchurch. Our trip logs indicated that we took about 100 minutes return starting from the View Hill Car Park (see directions below). Some of that time was spent exploring around the falls in search of better views. That said, the sign at the trailhead indicated that at least two hours should be allocated for the excursion. Speaking of signs, there was a helpful map sign at the trailhead that helped us identify the route we were supposed to take considering there were many criss-crossing tracks going to other locations.

The Wharfedale Track on the return Our experience began by hiking along the Wharfedale Track, which was also shared with mountain bikers (something we noticed on the return). That part of the walk was pretty flat and it persisted for about the first 30 minutes. We were initially treated to nice views of the surrounding countryside, but the track quickly became a walk in a forest with a couple of muddy sections to get around (possibly due to a day or two of rain that was here just prior to our arrival). We then reached a fence signed for the Oxford Forest, where Julie and I also noticed a spur track called the Cooper Creek Link Track to our right, but we ignored it.

Continuing along the Wharfedale Track, we eventually made it to another linking track (this time it was signposted for Ryde Falls). At this point, we left the relatively flat and wide Wharfedale Track and went on the much narrower linking track. Not only did this track become narrower, but it also undulated a bit. Eventually after another 30 minutes, we would reach the junction with the Ryde Falls Track, where we promptly went left and followed this track down to the creek level where we had to cross it. The crossing wasn't trivial, but Julie and I were able to make it across without getting wet and without the aid of trekking poles.

Beyond the stream crossing, we passed by what appeared to be a fire ring (someone was camping here though I wondered if it was sanctioned) before continuing a few minutes more before ultimately arriving at the base of Ryde Falls. Upon our arrival, we weren't totally happy with the view, and we seriously had to consider whether it was worth the potential for injury to push onwards for that better view. As you can see from the photos on this page, our choice was clearly made to err on the side of caution though we did try the scramble before we got too uncomfortable with the level of drop off exposure and steepness. That photo at the very top of this page was the fruit of our labour to at least get up to where we were uncomfortable to proceed further.

Once we had our fill of this waterfall, we returned back the way we came. However, judging from all the intersecting tracks we had encountered, it was pretty clear that there were other ways to do this hike (e.g. Cooper Creek to Ryde Falls) as well as other options for exploring the Mt Oxford area in addition to the falls. In any case, we picked the route with the least amount of hiking using the waterfall as the turnaround point.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

This was the broad expansive view over the paddocks on the way to the Ryde Falls Trailhead at the View Hill Car ParkThis was the broad expansive view over the paddocks on the way to the Ryde Falls Trailhead at the View Hill Car Park
Ryde Falls was probably the closest waterfall that we visited to Christchurch, which was the South Island's largest cityRyde Falls was probably the closest waterfall that we visited to Christchurch, which was the South Island's largest city
Julie and I also drove towards the town of Lyttleton, where we got this commanding view towards Christchurch on the wayJulie and I also drove towards the town of Lyttleton, where we got this commanding view towards Christchurch on the way
Julie and I also made the drive all the way past Lyttleton to Akaroa, which was a pretty laid back area (despite the weather) a couple hours drive southeast of ChristchurchJulie and I also made the drive all the way past Lyttleton to Akaroa, which was a pretty laid back area (despite the weather) a couple hours drive southeast of Christchurch
On the unsealed road shared with sheep leading to the View Hill Car ParkOn the unsealed road shared with sheep leading to the View Hill Car Park

Julie helping me to open and close the gates that we encountered on the way to the View Hill Car ParkJulie helping me to open and close the gates that we encountered on the way to the View Hill Car Park

Driving on the unsealed road leading to the View Hill Car ParkDriving on the unsealed road leading to the View Hill Car Park

Julie getting around a muddy section with tyre stripes from mountain bikes on the Wharfedale TrackJulie getting around a muddy section with type stripes from mountain bikes on the Wharfedale Track

Signposted junction leading to the linking track for Ryde FallsSignposted junction leading to the linking track for Ryde Falls

Julie on the linking track once we left the Wharfedale Track, which was considerably narrower and more undulatingJulie on the linking track once we left the Wharfedale Track, which was considerably narrower and more undulating

Signposted junction at the other side of the linking track where the Coopers Creek Track also linked with itSignposted junction at the other side of the linking track where the Coopers Creek Track also linked with it

Julie on the Ryde Falls Track as it descended towards the creekJulie on the Ryde Falls Track as it descended towards the creek

Julie walking along Coopers CreekJulie walking along Coopers Creek

Julie crossing the creekJulie crossing the creek

We passed by this fire ring just on the other side of the creek crossingWe passed by this fire ring just on the other side of the creek crossing

Arriving at the base of Ryde FallsArriving at the base of the falls

Partial top down views of the bottommost of the Ryde FallsPartial top down views of the bottommost of the falls

Julie heading back after crossing the creekJulie heading back after crossing the creek

Julie going back through the fence marking the boundary of the Oxford Forest as we were making the return along the Wharfedale TrackJulie going back through the fence marking the boundary of the Oxford Forest as we were making the return along the Wharefedale Track


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Bottom up sweep from right in front the falls (albeit a bit jerky)


Right to left sweep of the falls from the end of the official trail


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

From Christchurch, we headed north on Hwy 1 for about 25km. Then, we took the Woodend Rd (Route 72), which became Oxford Rd, and eventually became Depot Rd for about the next 53km. After getting through the town of Oxford, we turned right onto Harmans Gorge Rd and took it for just under 6km. Eventually, there were signposts for View Hill Car Park on the left as we got onto Woodstock Rd.

As we followed the signs, we found ourselves driving an unsealed road through paddocks where we had to open and close about 4 gates I believe. Each of these gates were time consuming because we'd have to pull up to the gate, get out of the car to open it, get back in the car to drive through it, then get back out of the car to close the gate. The gates were there to keep the sheep from roaming free so I'm sure the caretakers would appreciate the gates being left closed. The View Hill Car Park was at the end of the road, and our drive took around 90 minutes total.

From looking at the maps in hindsight, perhaps another more straightforward route would be to drive around 53km on SH73 (which led towards Arthur's Pass) from Christchurch to Waddington. From Waddington, take Waimakiri Gorge Rd north for under 6km to Harmans Gorge Rd, which could then be followed as described above to the View Hill car park.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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