Foggy Peak

Foggy Peak

Foggy Peak is a well-known mountain peak in Korowai Tusscocklands in the Canterbury Foothills. The unmarked trail towards the summit is a beautiful spot to catch sunrise from with panoramic views stretching right the way over Canterbury. In the winter months the mountain is a popular spot among mountaineers and trampers for teaching and practicing basic snow skills due to it’s proximity to Christchurch and the mountains consistent, smooth elevation gain. On a good clear day it’s easy to navigate your way through the grass and shrubs to and along the ridge line without too much navigation experience required. Be sure to carry plenty of water with you and prepare yourself to be faced with all conditions, wind, rain and snow are all possible even in the heights of summer.


4 hours


8.9 km


997 m





Oscar and Benny making their way along the carved out switchbacks on the way to the summit of Foggy Peak

43°41′26″S 172°45′43″E

In Detail

I would recommend taking a map and compass or GPS if you’re contemplating hiking Foggy Peak in poor weather conditions. Along much of the hike there aren’t any definitive landmarks that you will come across throughout the hike, making it difficult to make informed decisions on the direction in which to travel in. Another important note to make before heading up to Foggy Peak is that there are no streams nor water collectors to fill your water bottle along the way. This is especially important in summer when all the snow has disappeared off the face of the mountain. Ensure you wear a cap, carry plenty of water and apply sunblock before heading off.

Benny admiring sunrise through the tussock part way up the ascent towards the summit of Foggy Peak

Getting to Foggy Peak

Fro Christchurch take from Yaldhurst follow State Highway Seventy Three (SH73) west towards Arthur’s Pass. Eventually after a lot of gas guzzling climbing in your car you’ll reach Porters Pass. Ensure you slow down as you cross the pass and make a U turn to park on the outside bend. The ridge towards the summit of Foggy Peak begins here. Often on a good weekend there will be an assortment of vehicles parked on the pass. Many people making their way on towards Foggy Peak or Castle Hill Peak.

Foggy Peak Route

The route up Foggy Peak is an indistinct trail which weaves its way through rock and tussock to the summit. You shouldn’t sweat if you feel like you’re heading off the trail. Making your own way up following the easiest path along is the way to go about it, looking for the parts most well trodden along the way. For the first couple of hundred metres there is a other range pole marked route before fading out. From this point onwards interspersed cairns mark the route to the summit.

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Foggy Peak Weather

If you’re planning your hike up Foggy peak it’s not only a good idea to keep an eye on whether the weather is going to be raining/snowing but also at the wind speeds estimated in the areas. Being one of the first buffer mountains in the Canterbury Foothills Foggy Peak can receive a brutal amount of wind dropping the perceived temperature significantly. Ensure you pack a good raincoat/windbreaker to cut out any strong winds that might arise. Be aware that in winter the landscape changes completely. Snow completely blankets the mountains in the area almost right the way down to the highway. Ensure that you have appropriate experience with mountaineering equipment before pursuing Foggy Peak.

Climbing Foggy Peak

The climb up Foggy Peak isn’t marked nor signposted right from the start of the hike. Once you’ve parked up behind the highway barrier on Porters Pass it’s only a matter of hopping on over. You’ll start to pick your way up through shrub and scree towards the summit. Only the first few hundred metres are marked from the carpark by orange poled markers before breaking into scree and animals tracks that you’ll end up following to the summit. Fortunately there are a few cairns interspersed along the route which you should look out for along the climb. These will help to keep you on track for the summit.

Top: The sun beginning to rise along the climb up Foggy Peak, the first hues of colour making their presence known
Ryan taking a break sitting amongst the scree while Oscar and Benny catch up

During our trip we began before sunrise, starting off the hike under head torch admiring a beautiful sunrise as we climbed towards the summit. Parts of the hike we would find ourselves well off route towards the ridge line or further to shoot photos. Eventually we would locate a cairn and then gravitate back towards the track again.

Top: @bennymabazza finds his footing as the sun rises just above the inversion layer blanketing the Canterbury Plains
Bottom: @oscarsloane on the tools as @bennymabazza models whilst ascending

Navigating the Summit

As you climb higher along the route there can be sections of scree that the trail may lead through. Often it can be difficult to climb along this terrain often it can be two steps forward then sliding one step backwards. Where possible, picking a route through the scrub and tussock proved a lot more efficient for periods. Eventually they would run out you’d be back to using your intuition and sighting of any cairns to keep you on track towards the summit.

Top: The crew taking a break to capture some frames as the sun brings out it’s strong orange hues
Middle Left:
Ryan snapping up a frame of Benny as the sun peeps it’s way above the clouds
Middle Right:
Layers of hills upon one another looking out towards Lake Coleridge
Bottom: @explorastoryfilms followed by @bennymabazza as they ascend towards the summit of Foggy Peak, SH73 below

The next geological point of significance along the hike can be defined where the plants cease to exist. Instead your surrounded by rock and possibly some snow depending on the season. A plateau along the route is marked by a number of rock piles and an assortment of prayer flags draped between the rocks. A more defined path through can be seen from this section onwards in the summer and autumn when the snow has disappeared.

Top: @oscarsloane checking for some reception as we took a quick break as we were heading up Foggy Peak
Bottom: @bennymabazza followed by @oscarsloane following formed route cut into the peaks scree slope

Foggy Peak Summit

The summit is marked by a rock shelter. Built for those who have camped on the summit to try cut-out the wind that can rip through these mountains.  From the summit, on a clear day you can easily see out over Castle Hill and towards Arthur’s Pass.  If you spend much time up on the summit and the wind is strong be sure to layer up. After climbing almost 800 metres the temperature will have dropped significantly and the exposure due to wind chill will come into effect. On a clear day,  Mount Cook is visible from the summit of Foggy Peak.

A faint trail seen marking a descent route from the summit of Foggy Peak towards Castle Hill Peak

Castle Hill Peak

If climbing Foggy Peak wasn’t enough, you can easily lengthen your trip by climbing Castle Hill Peak.  From the summit of Foggy Peak follow a clear cut trail through the scree that leads down to a saddle. Follow the ridgeline from here onwards, picking up your own route through the rock and scree. Depending on the conditions during the spring and summer seasons, your skill level in the alpine environment and the conditions on the day will dictate how can go.

Top: Benny looking out over the Kowhai Valley below on a patch of snow looking back in the direction of Foggy Peak
Benny checking for some reception whilst looking out over the Craigieburn Range and Castle Hill

The final steep climb to the summit was the point at which we turned back on this trip, calling it a day. Without any ice axes we had no chance of ever being able to stop ourselves if we fell. Carrying a helmet to protect yourself from any ice or snow fall is also an essential piece of equipment to use if you’re thinking about venturing into these types of terrain.

The furtherest point that we could get in the snow and conditions without getting ourselves into too much danger Castle Hill Peak in front


The descent back down along the ridge is relatively straightforward and easy going along the ridge. It’s relatively easy on a good day to navigate your way back along the ridge towards the summit of Foggy Peak. You’ll find it takes you a lot less time along the return journey to reach the saddle before the final climb to Foggy Peak.

Top: Benny following the ridge line back towards the summit of Foggy Peak
Looking out across the Foggy Peak along the descent from Castle Hill Peak

Descending Foggy Peak

Descending from the summit of Foggy Peak will be hard on your knees. Taking the time to stop, rest your muscles before continuing is a good idea. Appreciate the surrounding views if the weather is fine. On a clear day you will be able to see out to Lake Coleridge and possibly even as far as Mount Cook.  As you’re coming down it’s easy enough to guide yourself back to the car park when it is within line of sight for a good portion of the descent. Before long you’ll find yourself back at the car park.

Top: The well defined, unmarked scree slope track along the route making their presence known
Ryan followed by Benny and Oscar making their way down the scree slopes of back towards the car as the clouds clear


Below is a selection of photos taken by Benny, Oscar and Ryan who were all part of the crew that made up the team on this hike to the summit of Foggy Peak. Benny is a photographer from Christchurch, New Zealand, Oscar is also a photographer but from Tasmania, Australia, whilst Ryan is a documentary film maker who currently resides in Canada. Check out some of their work below that they shared on the ‘gram.