Scree slopes are a fan of shattered rock which stretch down from a bluff or ridge and are similar to sand dunes to run on. Despite the slope being incredibly steep, you can control yourself enough to jump and slide down large sections of mountain in minutes. Purple Hill sits as its own little island across Lake Pearson from State Highway 73. Situated 1 hour 30 minutes from Christchurch, you can park at the camp site at the north end of the lake and begin your walk from here.
Make your way around the top of the lake and across the swamp to the start of the ridge. There is no track or route but if you follow the widest part of the ridge you'll have the easiest ascent, at least to begin with. The contour lines are pretty close together from 800m to 1400m and only the increasingly impressive view is really enjoyable about this point. Low lying cloud came and went obscuring the tops from our sight for much of the climb. Once at 1400m the climb to the summit is a little easier going as you can walk comfortably along a broad ridge to 1680m. There was some snow around the very highest parts of the mountain but nothing to hinder our passing.
When you make the top you now have two options. The first is to return the way you have come and keep your feet nice and dry walking around the lake. The second is to embrace the amazing scree running opportunities down the top half of the mountain. The only catch being that when you get to the bottom 20m of freezing cold lake stands between you and the road. With both my in-laws and three of Jeremy's friends in tow, we dropped over the edge and started the slide down the mountain. This was my first experience with scree running and I loved every second. Not only is it a much faster way to get back down but even with the speed we got up initially, it was pretty simple to stop yourself again. The smaller rock pieces give way to bigger chunks around a third of the way down but you can keep running until about halfway before the going gets a bit tough. From here we walked down the remaining rocks and into the bush leading to the lake.
Again there is no track and it can be a bit of a bush bash at times as you make your way to where the lake edges narrow together. We brought a pack liner to throw our gear in and made the plunge into the icy waters. It takes seconds to swim across (it's definitely too deep to walk over) but much longer to warm up again as we donned boots again for the slow trudge back to the camp ground. The trip up took around 3 hours 30 minutes with a lunch break. We lost track of time since we had so much fun on the way down but it's safe to say it was considerably faster.
In New Zealand we don't go hiking, walking or frolicking in the wilderness - we tramp.