Black Peak via Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area, Glenorchy NZ

Views of Lake Wakatipu and rugged Temple Peak on this big walk up Black Peak (1989m), in Whakaari Conservation Area, near Glenorchy.

Black Peak via Mt McIntosh Loop Track

Climbing Black Peak (1989m) is more grunt than gnarl, meaning it’s not too technical, but reasonably hard work in places. The views from summit are good, however similar views can be obtained from nearby Mt McIntosh for less effort, so you have options. In fact views along the way of Lake Wakatipu and Temple Peak are probably the highlight, rather than views from the summit.

Track notes are at the end of this post. I had already climbed nearby Mt McIntosh a couple of years earlier, and so Black Peak was unfinished business, and I was happy to tick it off. Another option in the Whakaari Conservation Area is to climb Mt Alaska, which is my favourite of these three peaks.

Black Peak via Mt McIntosh Loop Track: The Scenery

Black Peak via Mt McIntosh Loop Track
This shot taken just below 1203m. I made good progress to this point as this was only the second photo I took (having been up this way before). After this my photo addiction overwhelmed me again and I slowed down substantially. I may have a problem.
Black Peak via Mt McIntosh Loop Track
Panorama from a little below 1203m.
Black Peak via Mt McIntosh Loop Track
I’ve climbed Mt Alaska, which is a little hard to pick from the mountains behind it – the summit is centre left. That is probably the best day walk in the area.
Black Peak via Mt McIntosh Loop Track
The route takes you along this ridge. Black Peak is centre at the back (pointy). Mt McIntosh on the right, which I climbed with Sophia a couple of years ago.
Black Peak via Mt McIntosh Loop Track
You used to be able to climb Mt Alfred (centre) for top class views, but this is no longer open to the public. You can take a guided walk I believe.
Black Peak via Mt McIntosh Loop Track
Alpine plants
Black Peak via Mt McIntosh Loop Track
Temple Peak features prominently on this walk. (I actually took this shot on the way down – better lighting).
Black Peak via Mt McIntosh Loop Track
From the summit (or one section of it – the true summit is a very short scramble away).
Black Peak via Mt McIntosh Loop Track
Taken on the summit. I wandered along this ridge to the next ‘point’ to take more shots. That excursion took me an hour I think. Time flies when your’e having fun.
Black Peak via Mt McIntosh Loop Track
Interesting aesthetic of silvery rock and yellow tussock. Apparently there’s silica in the rock which makes it shine.
Black Peak via Mt McIntosh Loop Track
Looking back at the summit.
Black Peak via Mt McIntosh Loop Track
On my way down.
Black Peak via Mt McIntosh Loop Track
I was wondering when they built that vehicle track on the left, who or what the hell did they think was going to get up or down it!? It was hard enough just walking up it. Somebody said online that they are bulldozer tracks, which made sense.
Black Peak via Mt McIntosh Loop Track
Looking down Long Gully.
Black Peak via Mt McIntosh Loop Track
Long Gully and Lake Wakatipu.
Black Peak via Mt McIntosh Loop Track
A tributary of the Buckler Burn. The track goes around on the right.

Have a look at my post for Mt McIntosh for other shots from the area. 

Track Notes

Black Peak via Mt McIntosh Loop Track
The route follows marked tracks (later old bulldozer/ vehicle tracks) until very near the summit. The final ascent is steep but straightforward, with just a bit of scrambling to reach the true summit.

The walk starts at the car park on the south side of the Buckler Burn. You have to walk along the road over the burn, then look for an orange marker in the bush to your right – the signage for the track is just up on the embankment. From there follow the marked track along the fence line. You’ll eventually begin the climb to point 1203m, which is perhaps the steepest marked track I’ve ever walked on! From there the route is mostly obvious along a ridge and onto vehicle tracks. But as you head past Mt McIntosh towards Black Peak the tracks become indistinct and you’ll easily loose them, then find them again. Here are a couple of pictures to help you not get lost at the very beginning of this section…

Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area
You leave the main track (to McIntosh Hut) shortly after this drum.
Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area
The main track (going to McIntosh Hut) continues to the right; the route to Mt McIntosh and Black Peak is on the indistinct track to the left. I actually missed this turn off despite having noted in when climbing Mt McIntosh two years earlier. If you do the same you just have to descend a bit to rejoin it. 
Final Climb to Black Peak

As you begin the final climb to Black Peak you’ll leave the bulldozer tracks behind. At the top the true summit looks hard to get to, but is actually an easy scramble around the back (south) of some rocks. Climbing Black Peak and returning the same way will take very roughly 8-10 hours. (I forget exactly how long I took).

I walked on for a few hundred metres to visit point 1987m for extra views. That bit took an extra hour. I had the time but if you don’t then don’t worry about doing this bit. It doesn’t add all that much to the experience. 

Extra Info and Other Options

On the way back you could return by crossing Buckler Burn, but that is quite a bit longer according to the signage and I’ve never done it. More information on the loop track on the DOC website. There are huts in the area but they recommend you don’t drink the water due to past mining activity. 

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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