Ryton Track

Ryton Track

Ryton Track is a small hidden track near Lake Coleridge that is shown as an unnamed walking track on the topographical map. The Department of Conservation website doesn’t list it as a track yet making it quite a hidden destination well off the beaten track. The track follows the base of Little Mount Ida around to Lake Ida, a lake well known for fishing and known among outdoor ice skating enthusiasts for being a reliable spot for finding quality ice in the right winter conditions. The hike is easy and achievable for a family. Potentially a great picnic hike for young ones. In this post, only the track as far as Lake Ida is covered, however, the track continues on to Lake Catherine.


1 hour


2.85 km







Looking out over Lake Evelyn and Mt Hennah from along the track at sunset

43°14′46″S 171°31′42″E

In Detail

The highlight of the Ryton Track is reaching Lake Ida or Lake Catherine. if you’re doing the short hike for an Ice Skating session this will be you go to. There is a road that runs right through to the lake however it is fitted with a locked gate from the station owners. Permission may be granted to drive your car up to the lake if you call. Another option could be to bike along the road to the lake if you’re more of a trained cyclist. During the summer months both Lake Ida and Little Lake Ida can be popular locations for going fishing. With both lakes being slightly off the road and a short walk away they are. You’ll need to obtain a fishing license to legally fish in the lakes around Lake Coleridge.

Part of the Ice Skating team making their way back along the track towards the car park after a good days skating

Getting to Ryton Track

From Christchurch follow SH73 west to reach Darfield. At Darfield take a left turn at the end of the town to follow SH77 until you reach the small town of Windwhistle. Take Windwhistle road which then merges onto Coleridge Road until you reach Homestead road, take a right turn here and follow Homestead Road. When you reach the eastern banks of Lake Coleridge Homestead Road runs-out and you’ll need to take a left-hand turn onto Harper Road. The road can be a little rougher from here on, especially in a 2WD in winter. Take it easy and enjoy your surroundings. Eventually you’ll approach Lake Evelyn and just on slightly further will be a car park marking the start of the Ryton Track.

Ryton Track Route

The Ryton Track follows around the base of Little Mount Ida to eventually reach Lake Ida. It begins from a small car park situated between Lake Selfe and Lake Evelyn that follows the base of Little Mount Ida around to Lake Ida. The track, although rough looking is well cut and cleared making it relatively easy to follow. Starting with a small climb up and around the hill it soon tails off and continues on following a variety of flora right the way through to the lake. You’ll find yourself along a gentle descent down to the lake from the furtherest eastern point of Little Mount Ida onwards.

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Ryton Track Weather

If you’re planning to head in for an Ice Skating session you’ll want to ensure there have been a number of cold days leading up to when you plan to skate, coupled with a cold frost in the area to ensure the conditions are right for skating. It can be difficult to predict when ice will form on the lake and what conditions. Hence every time you head out for a skating session out on the lake it can be a bit of a gamble whether you will be able to skate. The more experience you have from heading out the more educated your predictions become. The best place to keep up with the lake conditions are on Aardwolfs Natural Ice Reports. Reports have been kept up to date by the community of Ice Skating enthusiasts that enjoy skating on the naturally frozen lakes.

Beginning from Lake Selfe & Lake Evelyn

From packing up on a small rise between Lake Selfe and Lake Evelyn there is a small carpark big enough to fit approximately six cars before it’s full. Near the carpark is a neglected DOC sign with route information as pictured below. It features times taken to reach a few of the viewpoints along the way. Although it looks like a roughed up track it is well formed right through to Lake Ida.

Clockwise from Top Left:
The broken track sign that has been pretty beaten up over time given little regard as of recent times
Matt beginning along the IDA marked stile on the way to Lake Ida
Everybody in the Ice Skating team beginning the uphill climb to try find nice, hard, solid ice
Matt making his way down the fenceline. A good overnight frost still showing it’s early morning remnants

As mentioned on the DOC sign shown above there is a beautiful viewpoint approximately 2 minutes up and along the track from Lake Ida. With views out over the Rolleston Range towards the west. If you get the weather right striking a still morning, many of the lakes offer up reflections of the surrounding lakes. It is picture perfect country for a photography enthusiast who enjoys taking long exposures and appreciates glassy reflections on lakes.

Looking out over Lake Selfe towards the Rolleston Range seen in the distance

Ryton Track

The track initially climbs from the car park before plateauing out. As you walk around the base of Little Mount Ida through small mountain Lilies and matagouri patching up the gaps. Throughout the initial section of the hike there are views out over to Mt Hennah and down to Lake Evelyn. Cross over the highest point of the track and you’ll begin to appreciate the full view of Cragieburn Range. The matagouri fades to tussock which later becomes pine trees.

Top: Fred repacking his bag whilst Karl and Matt admire their surroundings
Fred followed by Matt making their way further around Little Mount Ida

Along the track you’ll know you’re getting close to the lake when you can see an army of pine trees up ahead of you. Walking through this section may remind you very much of an American hiking scene. It’s the perfect place to build a Tee Pee hut from fallen branches. A great activity if you have younger kids who need to be entertained. Potentially a Christmas Tree scouting ground?

Top Left: Rugged Matagouri mixed with Tussock tearing up the area before
Top Right:
Walking through a much larger forest of pine trees as we make our way further down towards Lake Ida
Finding our way along the track whilst the invasive pines in the area make for an American style experience

Ryton Track to Lake Ida

The Ryton track continues on from Lake Ida. During this trip Lake Ida was the end point for us as we took the opportunity to go Ice Skating . Remnants of an old carpark that would bring bus loads of people to the lake a number of years ago. Along the lakeside still stand a number of leaning bench posts to help get their skates on before jumping on the ice for a skate.

Top: The old carpark that once was the spot where many people would come during the winters to skate on the frozen Lake Ida
Approaching Lake Ida descending a small gravel scree slope from the remnants of an old car park to the frozen lake below

Lake Ida

Lake Ida itself is a relatively large lake with a small abandoned hut sitting at the front of a forest of trees with a lakes view. What used to be a popular destination where many used to come and visit often to go ice skating. It could almost be compared to going skiing at a club field like those in the Cragieburn Range. Unfortunately due to the changing climate and warmer winters, the lakes don’t tend to freeze over as often. If you’re interested in reading further about skating on Lake Ida and Little Lake Ida you can read further here.

Playing a casual bit of Ice Hockey on the naturally frozen Lake Ida

Return Journey

The track returns exactly the same way as you walked in along. For some variety you could walk along the road that leads back to the main drag along Harper Road slightly south of Lake Evelyn. A further alternative option is to bush bash around through the scrub west of Little Lake Ida. This would require following the contours of Little Mount Ida back to the car park again. There is no documented route being at complete mercy of the terrain.

Clockwise from Top Left:
Looking out over to Mount Olympus from just above a patch of pine trees as sunset begins to set further in
Fred, followed by Matt striding along the track ensuring that we make good time for a cup of hot milo
Looking down towards Porters Ski Field (covered in snow in the distance)
Matt admiring the views as sunset continues to set in around the surrounding mountain ranges

Return to Lake Evelyn & Lake Selfe

The track will be slightly muddy along the track if there has been a good frost freezing much of the residual water that has been left on the track from the last rainfall. You’ll find that the walk goes even faster on the return. You may find the hike a much strenuous walk after all the skating that you may have done. You’ll almost find yourself running the final few metres to the car to warm up on a cold winters evening.

Top Left: The entire skating team making there way up towards the highest point along the track
Top Right:
Patchy matagouri and tussock dotting the hills covering it as
Bottom Left:
Stopping for a moment whilst I (the photographer of the trip) catches up to the rest of the skating team
Bottom Right:
Looking back to Lake Evelyn, a lake on which you can skate after a significant frost in the area

Skating Lake Self & Lake Evelyn

If you’re very lucky and time the weather right and the date right you may be able to skate on Lake Selfe and Lake Evelyn. That means skating on a natural ice right from your car. Take care when you’re driving the route in the winter time. Black ice can be present even on the gravel roads in places. It’s a beautiful walk to be enjoyed even if you miss out on a little bit of skating. Remember if you stand out on a frozen lake that it’s weakest around the edges!

Looking back over Lake Selfe at the end of the walk after we arrived at the car

A Special Thank you

A very special thank you is owed to Fred Van Slooten and his son (and my friend since kindergarten) Karl Van Slooten for taking both Matt Brunt and I out for a skating session. Without the wealth of knowledge that Fred has from many years of coming out to Lake Ida for skating sessions neither of us would have been able to have this opportunity. It’s incredibly important that if you’re thinking of heading out to the lakes for a skate to head out with someone who is experienced and has the equipment and gear necessary for skating on naturally frozen lakes. I would further like to extend my thanks to Clive who maintains Aardwolfs Natural Ice Reports. Without the community of people who help to support the page updating conditions of local lakes in the area.

Fred Van Slooten the main man that helped bring this entire trip together, and made Ice Skating on a natural lake possible for Matt & I