Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), near Arrowtown NZ

The wrinkly mountains and valleys at the back of Arrowtown are a highlight of this walk up Brow Peak (1456m).

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown

This walk up Brow Peak (1456m) was a real find for me when I first did it in the summer of 2018/19. A really high quality walk that I hadn’t done yet, just out the back of Arrowtown, and so only about 25 minutes drive from Queenstown. At that time I started the walk in the afternoon, finishing not much before dusk. The fading light cast shadows over numerous wrinkly mountains and valleys, which made for excellent views on the way back in particular. In winter you pretty much get this lighting all day, plus some snow to top it all off (literally).

So I took a few too many photos again, which justifies another post. If you want to see what it all looks like in summer, albeit later in the day, then you can view the original post.  

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle, Arrowtown
After Big Hill Saddle it’s a sparsely marked route only, but just keep climbing. Once on the ridge it’s obvious until close to the summit when you have to pick a route steeply upwards. It’s easy to mistakenly aim for a pointy false summit – the true summit is a little further on and marked by a big cairn (from memory).

 

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (in winter): The Scenery

 

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
A frosty start. This part of Arrowtown is in a bit of a shadow so it was bloody cold.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
The track runs along Bush Creek.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
They have a wilding pine tree problem around Arrowtown.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
I was a bit slow to get my camera out and would have preferred to get this hot air balloon more in the centre of the mountains. Nice enough shot though. Double and Single Cone peaks of the Remarkables behind.

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
On the Big Hill Track here.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
Approaching Big Hill Saddle, where we began the climb towards Brow Peak.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
The view from Big Hill Saddle.

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
I loved these knife edge ridges. Mountains are a never ending source of fascinating natural aesthetics.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
After the steep climb up onto the ridge it flattens out until another steep section near to the summit.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
Looking towards Brow Peak.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
Deep Creek Valley in the foreground and what I presume are peaks of the Southern Alps in the background.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
Brow Peak. I liked the chunky shapes and deep shadows in this shot.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
A false summit here that is somewhat camouflaged in my other photos. The actual summit is bit further on and is less pointy. You might be able to see Sophia to the right of some rocks on the upper right of the picture.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
Looking back along the ridge towards Big Hill Saddle (on he left).

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
Sophia on the summit of Brow Peak (1456m).
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
I loved the wrikled shapes and washed out colours in this shot.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
Chunky mountains to the north east. Possibly Mt Soho, although I didn’t take enough notice of the direction at the time so not sure.

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
The Wakatipu Basin.

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
This ridge is steep on the south side, but in normal weather there’s never any real exposure to worry about.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
No prizes for guessing which is the south side of this ridge.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
Sophia in the foreground for scale.

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
My attempt at an artistic shot.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
Lake Hayes and the Remarkables as the sun went down.

 

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

6 thoughts on “Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), near Arrowtown NZ”

  1. Beautiful photos, I was up there today though I came across the ridge-line from the Coronet side (this blog post was still helpful though, thank you sir)

    That lake in your last photo looks a lot like Lake Hayes 😉

    1. Thanks Chris. How was the walk from Coronet Peak? I imagine it was a bit flatter than walking from Arrowtown, but I bet the views were good. And yes, made a bit of a boo boo with naming Lake Hayes. Obviously had the Routeburn on my mind! I’ll fix that 🙂

      1. Sorry mate I missed this reply!

        It’s pretty incredible from the Coronet side, you would have loved it.

        You’re in wild little bluffs and crags for the first 45 minutes, it’s gorgeous and almost looks like a movie set.

        Reasonably low exposure from a rock-climbing perspective, but high levels of exposure from a hiking perspective. I doubt I’d take anyone on that route that didn’t have at least some sort of bouldering/climbing experience, we had to abort one trip because a party member had some pretty serious exposure anxiety/vertigo in the bluffs. You don’t go around them, you climb over the tops and you’re on the ridge the full length of the trip.

        Certainly harder from Coronet to Brow than from Brow to Coronet.

        The Arrowtown route looks reasonably pedestrian by comparison.

        Coronet to Brow is now one of my all time favorite routes. I’d say it’s probably best avoided during winter, though! 🙂

        Thank you for your articles mate they’ve been very helpful!

        All the best going forward in what seems to be an utterly crazy 2020!

  2. Hi Chris and Edward, I’d be interested in replies from both of you.
    What do you think of walking from Coronet Peak to Arrowtown via Brow Peak in September?
    My partner and I are late 50s, keen walkers but not experienced in harsh conditions. We are Aussies, regular visitors to NZ pre-covid. We have walked Isthmus peak in early September 2019 without incident, to give you an idea of our abilities. (I had to stop for rests at times but loved it. Partner bounced up like a mountain goat…)
    Any suggestions? Thanks.

    1. Hi Chris (H), I think you could do that walk, although depending on the snow situation you might consider an off track short cut, walking south down a spur just to the east of the summit (west of point 1325m) to meet a section of the Big Hill Walkway, and then back to Arrowtown via Bush Creek. If there’s snow on the south side then you might have to take the ridge track all the way to Big Hill Saddle, which is quite a bit longer. The ridge route is often free of snow because the track tends to be on the north side, which you can see from my photos. We took ice axe and crampons in June but never considered using them.

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