I had wanted to visit this remote corner of Canterbury for some time, but I was put off for a while by the long distances required to get to what I thought to be the most interesting peaks. Nevertheless, after studying the topo map in more detail I saw that the views should be good from Black Mountain (1809m), and it certainly delivered. You get really spectacular views of barren 2500m peaks and glacial valleys to the west, and of the Rangitata River to the east, including the confluence with the Havelock and Clyde Rivers.
There’s no formal track, and the route requires some navigation and bush bashing near the start, so not one for beginners. Track notes at the end.
Black Mountain: The Scenery
Returning to the start…
You’ll need a 4WD to get the starting point, otherwise you’ll have to walk from the Bush Stream Car Park about 3.5 km away. The hard part navigation wise is some bush bashing at the start – we crossed Black Birch Creek (gaiters will help keep your feet dry here) and headed for the edge of the beech forest where the slope is a little kinder. You’ll find the going easier in the forest than the adjacent scrub. Once out of the forest you can pick up an impact track through a bit of the scrub. It’s then clear travel up the ridge to the summit. The final climb to the summit is through rocks and scree and takes a bit of care and effort, but nothing too difficult. Best allocate a full day (7-8 hours roughly) to complete the walk.
I can’t quite remember where we parked exactly, but it was near a gate that we walked through to get to Black Birch Creek. I’m not entirely sure if we were supposed to be in that area. You could stick to the main route to the Havelock River and park near Black Birch Stream, then walk up stream to start the walk.
There’s more info on walks and huts in this area on the DOC website.