Annavale Track

Annavale Track

Annavale Track is a recently opened track that follows an easement across private land stemming off the Benmore Track in Thirteen Mile Bush. The track follows regenerating farmland along a vehicle track up to the summit of two peaks, the first hills above 1000m elevation before reaching the larger foothills that make up Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands. The trail is well signposted and provides beautiful views over Canterbury from this farmland hill.  Annavale Track has the potential to be tied in with a visit to Benmore Hut, completed within half a day. With the track’s proximity to Christchurch and the beautiful views you are rewarded with, it certainly is one to be marked on your hiking list.


2.5 hours


4.6 km


609 m



Nathan (the Author) standing atop pt1206

43°22′18″S 171°47′24″E

In Detail

The Annavale Track is a recently opened farm track (commonly known as a public easement) that gives access to two peaks on the fringes of Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands.  Access along the trail is documented online since 2020. Back in 2017 there was no formalised trail with signage.  The trail makes a great loop track when it relates to the Benmore Hut providing plenty of variety and scenery within Thirteen Mile Bush.  To complete the entire loop, you’ll need between four and six hours depending on the fitness and ability of your group. Unfortunately, the trail at this stage does not permit for Mountain Bike usage along the track, although, it would be a great granny gear.

Looking down just after the summit of Sugarloaf as Ben & Conor descend down the mountain

Getting to Annavale Track

To reach the start of the track to Annavale Track you’ll need to find your way to Benmore Station, just out of Springfield. From Christchurch take State Highway 73 (SH73) west. After you pass through Springfield you will soon cross a bridge over the Kowhai River. The road bends left, and you’ll be on a long straight as you approach the Canterbury foothills – located just before the next bend is Benmore Station. Make a left-hand turn here. There is a second bridge, old and wooden, that will take you over the Kowhai River once again.  Make a right-hand turn at the T intersection and you will find your way to the first car park.

Annavale Track

The Annavale track begins along the 4WD drive track if you have a low car and aren’t really willing to accept the fate that may lie ahead along the track. It’s a brisk walk along the vehicle track dodging a few puddles along the way to reach the start of the Annavale Track.  A fresh DOC sign points you in the direction of the track.  Follow the track as it ascends steadily up towards the summit.  Along the way you’ll cross a couple of stiles and at least one gate.  You’ll pass by a turn-off to the Benmore Link as you close in on your final leg of ascent before reaching the summit of Sugarloaf and pt1203.

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GPX file download for Annavale Track

Korowai Tussocklands Weather

The Annavale Track is a great trip to do in a mild winter or early spring when snow is laying around the hills but isn’t so thick that you’ll find yourself in dangerous terrain.  The views of snow-capped peaks around you on a clear day would be incredible.  Ensure you take a good windproof layer with you. The Benmore Range and surrounding hills near the hut are the first range of mountains easterly front over the plains, often a hefty amount of wind can pick up around the tops of the mountains.

4WD Access to Annavale Track

After you turn off the main highway to the beginning of the Annavale Track, you’ll find yourself on the Benmore Station’s property and driveway. Follow the road over the bridge, taking a right when you reach the T intersection. Drive slowly and respect the landowners. It is a privilege to have permission to access this land. A DOC sign handily marks out when you have reached the level dirt carpark provided. A large gate marked with a DOC sign gives access to the 4WD track. I have taken the car down this track over two trips into Benmore Hut. On the first trip the car almost got stuck in mud. The second trip left the car damaged, with the window at ground level and only one of four wheels still touching the ground. Hence, I will always vouch for walking.

Top: Conor taking a leap trying not to get his shoes wet along the vehicle access easement across Benmore Station
A 4WD spotted at the start of the Benmore Hut track which made it across the land.

Annavale Track to Sugar Loaf

The beginning of the track is marked with a Department of Conservation sign followed by a sign from the property owner. On Annavale Stationt is prohibited to carry firearms, take dogs, or light any fires.  As stated earlier, Mountain Biking is also prohibited.  Annavale track is mostly covered in grass at the beginning of the track, well cut into the hill and easy to follow.  As you climb, you’ll immediately see progress made.  The track is clear of any natural obstructions that would hinder your view the entire way up.  For every step you take up the hill, the landscape below incrementally becomes slightly more impressive.

Clockwise from Top Left
The DOC sign marking the beginning of the Annavale Track
A sign erected by the property owner outlining rules that follow with being able to walk along the track
Ben & Conor making their way up along the track up along the wide vehicle track leading up to the summit
Looking across towards the saddle in which Benmore Hut lies.

Milestones and Treats

If you wear a GPS watch or track your hike using your phone, there are several milestones that you can aim for along the hike. To reach the first major sharp switchback along the track you’ll have to reach an elevation of 831m. Climb a further 135m to 966m and you’ll reach the turn-off to Benmore Hut. Snowberries, an edible fruit are found on the uppermost parts of the trail.  These small white berries are found on the ground and fringes of the trail.

Top Left: One of the only gates that you pass through along the track, a poled orange marker alongside
Top Right:
Ben pushing hard through the pain as the ascent continues
Bottom Left:
Looking out further over Thirteen Mile Bush, Mount Hutt Range seen in the immediate distance
Bottom Right:
Looking down on Benmore Station from the summit of Sugarloaf

Sugar Loaf Summit

From the summit of Sugarloaf with good weather you’ll easily be able to see right out over to Banks Peninsula and across the plains down the fringes of the Southern Alps. You should find at the summit a DOC sign and further along the way an old steel marker sitting in the location of the smaller summit of the two.  It’s certainly a pleasant spot to stop for a feed, take some photos and embrace your entire surroundings before you continue your descent.

Top: The DOC marker showing that you have indeed made it to the summit of Sugarloaf
Nathan taking a moment to admire the

Descending the Annavale Track

Beginning back down the Annavale track is one of the most enjoyable parts of the hike.  As your feet carry you down the hill you can look out over the mountains and see the trail winding back to Benmore Station beneath you.  With a light pack and a pair of running shoes, it’s just a run down the hill to get back to the 4WD track.  You’ll soon reach the track fork to Benmore Link Track adding approximately twenty to thirty minutes on a fast descent to reach the hut.

Top: Looking along the tops of Sugarloaf as Ben and Conor begin the descent back down
Bottom Left:
Looking out over the Canterbury Plains and foothills as dark storm clouds begin to brew
Bottom Right:
Ben followed by Conor closing in on the Benmore Hut Link Track

Benmore Hut Link Track

Benmore Hut Link Track goes between Benmore Hut and the Annavale Track. DOC shows that it is supposed to take 50 minutes, however, it’s likely to only take you around half an hour on a quick descent. The track is relatively fresh and has only recently been cut, resulting in some patches around the open shrubs that can be difficult to navigate. The path woven through the forest has existed for a while longer, as an exit out onto the tops for hunters staying at Benmore Hut. Orange poled markers can be seen along the tops whilst orange triangle markers are spread consistently throughout the bush right the way into Benmore Hut.


50 mins


1.6 km


143 m



Clockwise from Top Left
Ben and Conor making their way through the low lying scrub
Further along the shrub and low lying hills looking out towards Mount Benmore
A fallen tree along the track that stood between us and making it through to the hut
Ben and Conor making their way through the forest while the fresh bright orange markers guide the way

Benmore Hut

Benmore Hut is a homely spot that I have stayed at twice and visited once. It’s a special basic backcountry hut that is maintained by the Canterbury Deerstalkers association, with all the necessities and more for an enjoyable stay out in the bush. There are three bunks within the hut but enough room to easily squeeze another two people on the floor if necessary. Amongst the bush there are plenty of spots where you could pitch a fly tent between the trees. Water is collected from the roof of the hut and stored in a tank with a pump action tap. As always it is recommended to boil the water, however, personally I find it relatively safe to drink from the tank.


3 bunks


Mattress, Fireplace, Water, Toilet



Conor & Ben at Benmore Hut