Flying above Mt Cheeseman Ski Field

Mt Cheeseman Ski Field

CHEESEMAN ACCESS ROAD CLOSED

 

Now that the season is over and they can no longer carry out daily inspections on the road slips, the Cheeseman access road is closed at Forest Lodge control gate until further notice.

The Department Of Conservation have advised to close the road on their behalf and are working at getting a better understanding of the larger scale repairs required to reinstate the slip areas permanently.

 

Please check the Mt Cheeseman Ski Area Facebook page for the most up-to-date information.

Conditions of access

  • You must be a CHGPC member and trusted by one of key holders to obtain the lockbox key.

  • A clear path must be maintained for vehicles accessing the ski field or top lodge at all times.

  • No cars above the main carpark (below the ski field buildings). 

  • Cheeseman ski field staff and users have the right of way on their road. 

  • Cheeseman ski field reserves the right to withdraw gate access if we do not abide by these rules.

  • Leave gate as you find it.

GPS Coordinates: -43.156, 171.671

Wind Direction: LIGHT WINDS (Take-off faces east)
 

Minimum Pilot Rating: PG2 / HG Advanced

Airspace: 9500ft above Craigieburn Range, lowering to 7500ft at Torlesse Range when flying towards Springfield. Please check VNC.

 

Access: From SH73 turn off to the Cheeseman Ski Field. Follow the access road to the locked gate. The club does have a key that will allow you to drive all the way to the ski field carpark.  The key procedure is stated below. 

 

Parking: Either park at the locked gate well off the access track and walk the last 1 km to take-off, or if you have obtained the key for the gate you can park in the main ski field carpark. DO NOT drive your vehicle any higher than the main ski field car park (i.e. up to or above the ski lodge).

 

Take-off: Either take-off from the main carpark or from the spur approximately 100 m south of the carpark.  The initial slope down from the carpark is shallow and at times turbulent.  In the summer dust devils/thermals will trigger from the car park so make sure you do not spend unnecessary time clipped in.  The spur is generally cleaner and easier for paragliders to take-off from as the slope is steeper. 


Landing: There are two bottom landing options. The closest (LZ1) is Texas Flat (Click here for GPS). This is the place you will probably have left a vehicle. PG’s generally land between the track and the start of the hogs back ridge. Texas Flat does have a shallow slope and the large tussocks can make landings technical for HG’s. LZ2 is where the majority of HG’s land as it has a better approach and is normally facing the thermic wind or NE if it has pushed into the plateau.

Flying: Cheeseman provides the easiest access to the Craigieburn ranges. This is a good starting point for XC flying within the local area or straight line distance flights. Pilots have flown to Otira or in the opposite direction, Springfield. Cloudbase can reach higher than the start of controlled airspace at 9500 ft. Sometimes it can be a struggle to get your first climb from Cheeseman. Your best bet is to turn right after take-off and follow the scree slope along the access track. This gives you some room to work initial thermals that will track up the scree slope until they release properly at the top of the ridge. This will put you in close proximity with terrain. If you are not comfortable with this, you can try your luck further out away from the mountain and try and find a thermal triggering off one of the lower slopes. This will give you much better terrain clearance.

Cheeseman is an alpine site and in the summer, thermals and turbulence can be strong. Typical dangers of mountain flying in increasing strong wind day and effects of increasing turbulence whilst low flying over spines apply here.
Make sure you are current and have all the necessary safety equipment. Personal locator beacons are highly recommended.

 

Flying with others is a very good idea as the area is remote. Cell phone coverage is available from the transmitter located in Castle Hill village.


DO NOT FLY here in a strong SW, W or NW. Take-off is leeside and it may seem ok but it will be very turbulent.

 

Cheeseman Ski Field road access - Gate Key procedure

There is a locked gate on the Cheeseman access road approximately 1.9 km from the top (1 km by foot following walking track).  The key to unlock the gate is in a lockbox within the Castle Hill Village area.  There is only ONE gate key.  Firstly you need to obtain the lockbox key from one of the 6 lockbox key holders: 

1.    Mark Nichols              021339336       Castle Hill Village
2.    Steve Bankier             021434003       West Melton
3.    Warren Simonsen      0211832126     Riccarton
4.    Donald Payne            0274327884     Spreydon
5.    Bradley May               0226812832     Heathcote (during daytime)
6.    Ross Johnstone         0274849667     Castle Hill Village

 

Procedure

  1. Contact convenient lockbox key holder to obtain lockbox key and instructions for the location of the lockbox.

  2. Key holder to then send group message to ALL other key holders as soon as request is authorised. Message to state; name, driver’s phone number (if applicable), radio CH., expected gate opening time.  Message preferably sent before 9 pm night before use.

  3. If a Facebook and/or WhatsApp user then please inform your intentions on the clubs Facebook page and WhatsApp group (Paragliding Canterbury). 

  4. At arrival at the lockbox location please fill in the log book;

    • Date 

    • Name of authorising key holder

    • Name of key user + ph. number + radio CH

    • Expected gate opening time

    • Number plate(s) of ALL vehicles through the gate

    • Total number of pilots in group

  5. Once finished for the day, lock the gate on your way down, and return the gate key to the lockbox. Update the log book if needed. Groups using gate key but not returning it need to update the log book with their details.

  6. Return lockbox key to key holder that day. 

 

Important Notes

  • DO NOT TAKE THE GATE KEY FLYING WITH YOU (gate and lockbox key to be stashed on vehicle; txt to key holder: vehicle type, plate number, and location of vehicle and key), or left with ground support (txt with contact details to key holder). This is to let other pilots use the gate as well as for emergency use.

  • Lock gate behind you (going both ways).  You need to co-ordinate with other groups wanting to use the gate key at different times.

  • Any original or subsequent key user is responsible for entering all number plates and pilot details they let through the gate and updating the log book that day on the way home. Even if you are not returning the key.

  • The authorised key user is responsible for returning the gate key. 

  • Key use authorisation is valid for one day. After this the gate key needs to be returned to the lockbox and new one day authorisation needs to be requested and approved.

  • Only CHGPC sites officers can authorise a new lock box key with Ross Galt Locksmith Christchurch (with exec approval). [Do not try to make new lockbox key for yourself as key maker will report it to Cheeseman Ski Field and club can lose the site]
     

Please follow and respect the procedure and conditions so we can maintain the use of this site and enjoy the accessibility Cheeseman Ski Field kindly provides.
 

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Weather & Forecasts

For short term soaring forecast use RASP.nz.
The SkewT log for Flock Hill Station will be your best guide.