Craigieburn is a rugged, mountainous, area outside of Christchurch where they’ve carved a ski area out of a large bowl. Getting there when there is snow seems like it would be as big an adventure as skiing there. There are avalanche signs everywhere and you have to wear a transponder when you ski. From what we could see, there’s a single rope tow to get you up the mountain. It’s small and intense.
We parked at the gate where the gravel road leading to the ski area starts. The grade on the road the ski area is pretty challenging. There are some good views, but this probably won’t be your favorite part of the ride. Once you get to the ski area, rest a bit and the head up past the ticket window. You’ll find the single track trail at the bottom of the ski lift leading off across the bowl to the left.
Jump on the single track (Craigieburn Edge Track) and hang on tight. There are some serious drop offs and some shale fields where you’ll walk if you have any sense. At some point, you’ll continue onto the Lyndon Saddle Track. The lower part of that trail is called The Luge. This last descent was pretty fun.
At the bottom of the Luge, you’ll hit the gravel road again. It’s a fairly easy ride from there to where your car is parked at the gate.
The trails are well marked, but it’s fairly hard to get information before you get there. There’s a map you can buy, but it’s not posted online anywhere. We had a friend that had ridden there before that helped us plan a route. There are other trails you might want to explore if you want to make the ride longer. Keep in mind that Craigieburn is not for beginners; the trails are technical and the climbs can be steep.
You can see the route on the video below or in the Strava data here.
Craigieburn was one of the harder days for us. We’d ridden 100k the day before and this was our 7th day straight so we were a little frazzled by the technical and physical challenge. In the end we were glad we made the trip because it was so different from the other rides.