Breast Hill Route, Lake Hawea, Otago NZ

One of the better walks near Wanaka, rugged Breast Hill (1578m) provides views of Lake Hawea and mountains in all directions.

Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea

I first learnt of the track to Breast Hill (1578m) from an Instagram follower who used to live in Wanaka. It was his favourite day walk in the area, and I came across another blogger who rated it highly, so I had to give it a go. It is indeed an excellent walk, especially once you hit the ridge, and then again when you get out of sometimes smelly farmland and into Hawea Conservation Park.  There are great views of Lake Hawea the whole way, of golden tussock grass hills, and of the steep rugged slopes of Breast Hill itself, as well as various mountain peaks all around.

It’s a bit of a work out to get up there, but once on the tops it’s pleasant walking with views as you make your way to the summit. Track notes at the end.

Breast Hill Route: The Scenery

Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea
Views after the first steep bit on a zig zag track through pasture.
Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea
I had nice soft lighting on the way up.
Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea
Long lines of ridges and the lake in soft lighting.

 

Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea
I liked this green hillside. I wonder if this is native vegetation.
Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea
Loved the ridgelines.
Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea
Up on the ridge finally.
Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea
Pleasant tussock grass and contours in this scene.

Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea

Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea
Lots of bluffs and crags.
Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea
Sophia visible on the summit of Breast Hill.
Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea
Panoramic view south west from the summit of Breast Hill (1578m).
Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea
Looking north. Corner Hill on the left, which is also on the to do list. That’s an impressive looking mountain from the other side of the lake.
Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea
Looking north.
Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea
Lake Hawea and the Southern Alps in the background. A very calming scene.
Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea
Sophia on the summit of Breast Hill (1578m). Lake Hawea and the Southern Alps behind.

Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea

Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea
Sophia up there looking out over Lake Hawea (off picture).
Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea
The easy slopes of the eastern side contrasted greatly with the rugged drop offs on the western side.
Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea
Rolling hills of tussock.

Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea

Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea
I think this is Breast Peak (confusing to have two breasts in the same area: not what you expect), and the Grandview Ridge Track runs the length of the ridge, connecting up with Grandview Mountain to the south.
Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea
Rugged slopes viewed on our descent.
Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea
Healthy (and dangerous!) looking speargrass in the foreground.
Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea
Lots of nice colour in this shot.

Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea

Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea
Loved these ridgelines so I decided to get a close up with my telephoto lens.
Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea
I waited until we descended to get a shot of the mountain as the lighting was better. You follow the ridge from right to left. The summit is up there on the left hand side.
Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea
Stopping to savour the views.
Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea
Looking up from the bottom. I think my phone was heavy handed with the HDR, but I liked the effect.

Track Notes

Breast Hill ascent, Lake Hawea
On a marked track the whole way. The first third (give or take) is in farmland, then you enter Hawea Conservation Park. There are longer tracks that take you into the backcountry and you can complete long loops, but we returned the way we came.

The route is on a marked track the whole way. The first third (give or take) is in farmland, then you enter Hawea Conservation Park. There are longer tracks that take you into the backcountry where you can stay in huts, and you can also complete long loops, but we returned the way we came. Allocate a short day (5-7 hours?) for this one: probably at the hard end of moderate.

You can get more information on tracks and huts in the area on the DOC website. The Breast Hill Track is a section of the Te Araroa.

There is a small layby about 300m past the trail head where you can park your car. Otherwise a few people just squeezed their cars in on the side of the road. 

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

2 thoughts on “Breast Hill Route, Lake Hawea, Otago NZ”

  1. Looks stunning Edward, would make a great double with Isthmus peak on the other side of the lake.
    Is there a bit of a car park at the start of the track?

    1. Hi Tony. The car park is 300m down the road from the start of the track. I forgot to mention that so I’ll add it to the track notes. It’s just a lay by really – space for three or four cars. We did Isthmus Peak a few years ago and quite liked it. We just did another in the area called Sentinel Peak, although this is off track. The pick of the bunch if you don’t mind a bit of adventure, and also a bit of a workout. I’m just putting the blog post together now.

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