A loop track leading over the summit of Mount Oxford and back through the foothill forest.
Mount Oxford is a good day trip from Christchurch. This circuit provides good views from the tops and a lot of diversity: dry beech forest, sub-alpine scrub, tussock tops, mountain beech "goblin forest", and lowland podocarp forest.
The turn off to Coopers Creek is on the right at the western outskirts of Oxford. Beyond Coopers Creek, turn right onto Mountain Road and continue to the road end car park.
This circuit could also be started and walked in reverse from the View Hill car park (head west from Oxford, then take Woodstock Road to the right for about 9.5km, then Ingrams Road right again, then Perhams Road, and finally the single lane Wharfedale Track, to the View Hill car park).
Just beyond the Coopers Creek car park, the track branches with a vehicle track leading over a bridge. Follow this through farm land to Payton Lodge. The walking track branches left just beyond the lodge, dropping into forest and crossing a second bridge over Coopers Creek.
From here, the track leads along the top of a gentle spur through dry beech forest. The spur steepens and breaks out onto sub-alpine scrub soon afterward (1.5 hours from the car park). The final climb is up a smooth tussock slope to the summit trig (1364m), 2.5 hours from the car park.
The summit can be very windy if a nor'wester is blowing, making it hard to even stand up. To the east, the rounded ridge leads to Oxford Hill. The Ashley Gorge and Mount Richardson are beyond. Northeast is the hemmed-in plain of the Lees Valley. To the north and northwest, the Townshend River and the Wharfedale Track wind throught the green foothills of the Oxford Forest. Beyond is the Puketeraki Range.
The poled route leads westward along the tops, soon dropping along the spur into gnarled beech forest hanging with mosses. After 50 minutes, at the first small rise on this spur, a side-track leads down to Wharfedale Shelter (1.5 hours). Eventually, the spur drops into dry beech forest, then a change to wetter forest clad in crown ferns marks the junction with the Wharfedale Track (1 hour 45 minutes from the summit).
Turn left onto the wide track and pass the turn-off to Ryde Falls just a few metres onward. The Wharfedale was originally surveyed as a road into the Lees Valley, so it provides smooth gradients. It is now popular with mountain bikers. The turn-off to the left is clearly marked just 10 minutes along the Wharfedale. This easy track back to Coopers Creek passes through interesting forest dotted with podocarps (rimu, matai, totara, and kahikatea) and rich with horopito. On the left, the track from Ryde Falls soon joins up again (3 hours 20 minutes from the summit).
Eventually the track breaks out onto exotic scrub with good views to the left back up to Mount Oxford, and spends 30 minutes following the true left bank of the creek back to the car park.