Mt Oxford, Mountain House Car Park - 20 January 2019

Our party of 5 set off to climb Mt Oxford from the Mountain House (Coopers Creek) car park at a favourable hour of 9am. Lucky for us the cool, windy conditions kept the sand flies away from the start of the riverside track.

 We started off at a good pace, passing the many bee hives dotted amongst the overgrowth and settled into our usual groove. The track was good under-foot and offered an undulating start to warm us all up before we hit the climb to the tree line. Along the way we were greeted by bird song from a few bell birds, wax eyes, tom tits, wood pigeon and fantails. It was great to see and hear the birds and listen to the wind in the trees. We reached the tree line in 1hr45mins and were greeted by some gusty winds. After morning tea, we agreed as a collective group that we would walk up to the big tree for the view over the Canterbury plains (which is actually a small beech tree) and then head back down. Shane opted to continue at a fast pace to complete the loop and meet us at Ryde Falls.

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Figure 1. Taking a breather to admire the patch work view of the Canterbury plains. Photo courtesy of Jill Fulcher

We arrived at the Scout hut at 1pm just in time for a luxury lunch spot on some rather nice homemade chairs. In the shade of the hut we watched the tall grass twist and turn as if we were in a meadow. With fresh legs we decided to extend our tramp (as it was a moderate tramp) and walk on the Ryde Falls track to meet up with Shane. The track was relatively easy and followed a well-marked track along the true right bank of the river, over a scrubby hillside and into beech forest.

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Figure 2. Perfect lunch spot by the Scout hut. Photo courtesy of Jill Fulcher

As well as tourists and dogs, there were a variety of podocarps and beech to look at along the way to the top of Rydes Tramway. This was a horse-drawn tramway used in the timber extraction from the area. There is no remnant of the tramway visible, but a partly intact information board gives some information for visitors.

Along the track, we passed through some dampened forest, which had a handsome understorey of crown ferns and horopito. Making good time we were soon at the track junction where a linking track leads westward to the Wharfedale Track (1 hour 30 minutes from the car park). We headed right, down to the Ryde Falls where we met Shane along the track. All re-united we headed to the falls and watched some locals take a dip in the cold waters while having a fuel stop. After 10 minutes the sand flies drove us away and we headed back to the car park for an end time of 5:40pm. All in all a good leg day with great company and views.

We were: Jill Fulcher (leader) Shane Wright, John Robinson, Alison McColl and Wendy McCaughan PJF