Ryde Falls

Oxford, South Island, New Zealand

About Ryde Falls


Hiking Distance: 6.5km round trip
Suggested Time: 1.5-2 hours

Date first visited: 2009-12-21
Date last visited: 2009-12-21

Waterfall Latitude: -43.24343
Waterfall Longitude: 172.06518

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.

Ryde_Falls_019_12202009 - Ryde Falls
Ryde Falls

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.

The Department of Conservation (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 made it very difficult to make such a measurement.

In fact, it prevented all but the hardiest and most adventurous trampers willing to take some serious risks from seeing much more of the Ryde Falls.

Ryde_Falls_027_12202009 - As much of Ryde Falls as I was able to see through the obstructions
As much of Ryde Falls as I was able to see through the obstructions

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.

Ryde_Falls_001_12202009 - Looking towards the mountains of the Southern Alps from the Ryde Falls Trailhead at the Wharfdale Track
Looking towards the mountains of the Southern Alps from the Ryde Falls Trailhead at the Wharfdale Track

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.

Hiking to Ryde Falls – Following the Wharfdale Track

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.

Ryde_Falls_007_12202009 - Panoramic view of the mountains nearby the Wharfedale Track en route to Ryde Falls
Panoramic view of the mountains nearby the Wharfedale Track en route to Ryde Falls

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).

Hiking to Ryde Falls – Following the Ryde Falls Track

At this point, we left the relatively flat and wide Wharfedale Track and went on the much narrower linking track.

Ryde_Falls_014_12202009 - At the other side of the connector track between the Wharfedale Track and the Cooper Creek Track en route to Ryde Falls
At the other side of the connector track between the Wharfedale Track and the Cooper Creek Track en route to Ryde Falls

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.

Ryde_Falls_016_12202009 - Julie about to cross the creek on the way to Ryde Falls
Julie about to cross the creek on the way to 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 too uncomfortable to proceed further.

Once we had our fill of the Ryde Falls, we returned back the way we came.

Ryde_Falls_045_12202009 - The Wharfedale Track on the return
The Wharfedale Track on the return

However, judging from all the intersecting tracks we had encountered, it was pretty clear that there were other ways to do this hike.

For example, we could have hiked the Cooper Creek Track to Ryde Falls, or we could have explored other options in 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.

Authorities

Ryde Falls resides in the Oxford Forest Conservation Area near Christchurch in the Canterbury region of South Island, New Zealand. It is administered under the jurisdiction of the Department of Conservation. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Ryde_Falls_002_jx_12202009 - On the unsealed road shared with sheep leading to the View Hill Car Park
Ryde_Falls_003_12202009 - Driving on the unsealed road leading to the View Hill Car Park
Ryde_Falls_005_12202009 - At the trailhead at the View Hill Car Park for both the Wharfedale Track and the Ryde Falls
Ryde_Falls_010_12202009 - Julie getting around a muddy section with tyre stripes from mountain bikes on the Wharfedale Track
Ryde_Falls_011_12202009 - Signposted junction leaving the Wharfedale Track leading to the linking track for Ryde Falls
Ryde_Falls_012_12202009 - Julie on the linking track once we left the Wharfedale Track, which was considerably narrower and more undulating
Ryde_Falls_013_12202009 - Julie further along the narrow linking track en route to the Ryde Falls
Ryde_Falls_015_12202009 - Julie on the Ryde Falls Track as it descended towards the creek
Ryde_Falls_017_12202009 - Julie crossing the creek en route to Ryde Falls
Ryde_Falls_018_12202009 - We passed by this fire ring just on the other side of the creek crossing en route to Ryde Falls
Ryde_Falls_020_12202009 - Looking at the Ryde Falls from further downstream of the base of the falls
Ryde_Falls_026_12202009 - Partial top down views of the bottommost of the Ryde Falls as I attempted to go higher along the falls in search of a cleaner and more satisfying look at the falls
Ryde_Falls_038_12202009 - Last frontal look at the Ryde Falls before heading back
Ryde_Falls_043_12202009 - Julie heading back to the trailhead after having our fill of Ryde Falls and after crossing the creek
Ryde_Falls_044_12202009 - Julie going back through the fence marking the boundary of the Oxford Forest as we were making the return along the Wharfedale Track

join-booking-970x240-1.jpg


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.

Ryde_Falls_003_jx_12202009 - On the unsealed road accessing the start of the Wharfedale Track en route to Ryde Falls
On the unsealed road accessing the start of the Wharfedale Track en route to Ryde Falls

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.

Ryde_Falls_005_jx_12202009 - Julie helping me out by getting out of the car to open and close the gate to keep the sheep in as we drove to the trailhead for our hike to Ryde Falls
Julie helping me out by getting out of the car to open and close the gate to keep the sheep in as we drove to the trailhead for our hike to Ryde Falls

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.

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

Related Top 10 Lists

No Posts Found

Tagged with: oxford, canterbury, south island, new zealand, waterfall, christchurch, wharfedale track



Visitor Comments:

No users have replied to the content on this page


Share your thoughts about what you've read on this page

You must be logged in to submit content. Refresh this page after you have logged in.

Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

No users have submitted a write-up/review of this waterfall


Have you been to a waterfall? Submit a write-up/review and share your experiences or impressions

Review A Waterfall

Nearest Waterfalls

The Waterfaller Newsletter

The Waterfaller Newsletter is where we curate the wealth of information on the World of Waterfalls website and deliver it to you in bite-sized chunks in your email inbox. You'll also get exclusive content like...

  • Waterfall Wednesdays
  • Insider Tips
  • User-submitted Waterfall Write-up of the Month
  • and the latest news and updates both within the website as well as around the wonderful world of waterfalls
Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
Read More About Johnny | A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls.