The Walks/Blog

Pakihi Walk, Westland Tai Poutini National Park NZ

The Pakihi Walk is a very short and easy climb through attractive forest and kiwi habitat, to a viewpoint on a hill.

I passed the sign for the very short Pakihi Walk driving from Franz Joseph Glacier to Okarito, otherwise I wouldn’t have known about it. We were operating in a short weather window during three days of forecasted rain, and decided to stop and do the walk because we might not get to do much else! It turned out to be an attractive if not spectacular walk that is worth doing if driving to Okarito as it’s just at the roadside. The highlight is the forest, (kiwi habitat apparently), but there are also modest views from the end of the walk. Continue reading “Pakihi Walk, Westland Tai Poutini National Park NZ”

Hokitika Gorge Walk, Westland NZ

Spectacular blue water framed by white (ish) rocks and green vegetation on this short walk through Hokitika Gorge, and these colours despite overcast skies.

The short but spectacular Hokitika Gorge Walk had been recommended by friends, and so we took the 30-odd kilometre diversion from the main road (and the town of Hokitikia) when on our first West Coast road trip. With overcast weather I did not expect the vibrant blues and greens I’d seen online, and had adjusted my expectations accordingly. But when we got there the colours were intense despite the sunless skies, so I think the gorge is worth a visit in any but the dreariest weather conditions. Continue reading “Hokitika Gorge Walk, Westland NZ”

Pororari River Track short walk, Paparoa National Park, Westland NZ

Very attractive river, gorge and forest scenery on this short and easy section of the Pororari River Track near Punakaiki, Westland. There are longer options available too.

The Pororari River Track is another of the side of the road short walks that we did by chance on NZ’s West Coast. Like the nearby Truman Track this turned out to be a great little walk, taking in some fabulous river, gorge and rainforest scenery for very little effort. Highly recommended.

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Truman Track, Paparoa National Park, Westland NZ

An attractive and varied short walk through rainforest and coastal vegetation that makes a good introduction to the unique NZ West Coast environment.

On our first road trip down the West Coast of New Zealand we stopped along the way to complete a few short walks (perhaps 15 minutes to an hour). Some, like the Truman Track, were not planned, but turned out to be an excellent introduction to this beautiful and unique part of the country. This track in particular was a good one as it had a variety of vegetation, and signs identifying some of the notable plants found in this region, which is much wetter than my usual stomping grounds of Canterbury and Otago. It starts in very lush rainforest, then quickly transitions to attractive coastal scenery, and the whole walk can be done in 30 minutes (plus photography time!). Continue reading “Truman Track, Paparoa National Park, Westland NZ”

Pancake Rocks Circuit, Punakaiki, Westland NZ

Pancake Rocks & blow holes are an interesting tourist attraction near the small village of Punakaiki that are accessed on a very short walk.

A colleague suggested we visit Pancake Rocks near Punakaki on our drive down NZ’s West Coast. As a tourist attraction it is recommended, with a variety of interesting rock formations, often in layers, (hence the pancake reference), and also blow holes and bird nesting sites. The blow holes weren’t blowing on the day we did this walk. They kinda sucked 😉

As a walking experience it is more akin to strolling in a city park, being very short and on a paved track. This is just one to stretch the legs on the drive up or down the coast, or if you are staying in the area.

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Cape Foulwind Walkway, Westport NZ

A pleasant and easy walk through a re-vegetated strip of coast near Westport.

On our first visit to the New Zealand’s West Coast we planned first to drive over from Christchurch via the Lewis Pass and spend a night in Westport, then drive down the coast and spend some time there doing walks in glacier country. Nevertheless, we had a couple of hours spare in Westport and went out to see the coast and discovered the pleasant Cape Foulwind Walkway. A local school and the DOC have been re-vegetating this coastal strip with native plants since the 90’s, so  it is quite attractive in places. Continue reading “Cape Foulwind Walkway, Westport NZ”

Mt Taylor ascent, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

Stark and rugged scenery on this epic day-hike to the summit of Mt Taylor (2333m), the highest peak in the Canterbury Foothills.

I’ll admit to being motivated by epic climbs to high peaks that I can knock off in a big day, and so Mt Taylor was always beckoning. At 2333m of elevation it is the highest mountain I’ve ever climbed, and at 31km and 1650m change in elevation, one of the longest walks I’ve done. The views from the summit over the stark landscape of the Canterbury High Country and Southern Alps are predictably a highlight, however I also very much enjoyed the walk up and down the Swin River South Branch through a very rugged gorge. And despite it being a cloudless Saturday I had the whole mountain to myself (and no Sophia with me that day). Continue reading “Mt Taylor ascent, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Fyffe and Gables End, Kaikoura, Canterbury NZ

Fabulous views of the coast & inland over high peaks make this walk up Mt Fyffe (1602m) and on to Gables End (1592m) a must do if you are visiting Kaikoura.

Kaikoura is a coastal town in the far north of Canterbury, and is famous as a place where tall mountains meet the sea. Those tall mountains are the Seaward Kaikoura Range, peaking at the summit of Manakau (2608m). Grandstand views of these mountains on one side, and the sea on the other, are available from Mt Fyffe (1602m) and nearby Gables End (1592m). Most people would stop at Mt Fyffe, but the relatively easy walking (with one steep bit) across the tops to Gable and then Gables End was the highlight of the day, and so if you have the energy I can recommend this extension. The views at Gables End are also very good. Continue reading “Mt Fyffe and Gables End, Kaikoura, Canterbury NZ”

Lewis Tops Route, Lewis Pass Scenic Reserve, Canterbury NZ

A classic walk to the Lewis Tops, climbing at first through attractive beech forest, then up onto the tarn strewn tops for wonderful views in all directions.

The popular Lewis Tops walk had been on my hit list for some time. I’d walked the nearby Nina Valley Track when staying in Hanmer Springs in winter, but had been waiting for clear weather to get onto high ground for the first time in this region. It was very much worth the wait, with wonderful views in all directions once above the bushline. Before then there is an hour-long climb through attractive beech forest, and there are also a number of tarns on the tops that made for nice photographic subjects. Continue reading “Lewis Tops Route, Lewis Pass Scenic Reserve, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Thomas Circuit, Mt Thomas Forest Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

A quick climb to the summit of Mt Thomas (1036m) for views over the Canterbury Plains & nearby hills, then a pleasant return through native forest.

Mt Thomas (1036m) is one of four smaller mountains less than an hour’s drive to the north-west of Christchurch, all of which have tracks to the summit and circuit options. The others are Mt Oxford, Mt Richardson, and Mt Grey (we’ve yet to climb the latter). Of the three we’ve now climbed, the walk up Mt Thomas was probably the least inspiring, however the loop walk we did was the shortest and hence was a good option when we wanted to get in a half day’s walk and be back in town for early afternoon. To be fair the best views were probably those to the west which were obscured by cloud on the day we did this walk. For me the most scenic section was the return leg from the summit along a broad ridge and then down through a valley of native forest on the Wooded Gully Track. Track notes at the end. Continue reading “Mt Thomas Circuit, Mt Thomas Forest Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”