Brow Peak – Bush Creek Circuit, Arrowtown NZ

A shortish route up Brow Peak (1456m) for excellent views over backcountry to the north, & the Wakatipu Basin to the south. There a few options to make a circuit, including back along the picturesque Bush Creek.

Brow Peak - Bush Creek Circuit

This was my third time up Brow Peak, having ascended via Big Hill Saddle twice, and almost getting to the summit from Coronet Peak. (I ran out of time on Christmas Day, needing to get back for festivities with friends). This is a short ascent and good if you want the views without so much walking, however there are less views than walking the longish ridge from Big Hill. If it’s your first time up I recommend going this longer route. Nevertheless, excellent views await you at the summit, especially of the backcountry to the north, and this route offers a nice return circuit along picturesque Bush Creek.

However, this last bit requires some serious route finding, so only for experienced parties. There are less adventurous circuit routes available. And of course you could come back the same way for a short day out. Have a look at my track notes for details.

Brow Peak – Bush Creek Circuit: The Scenery

Brow Peak - Bush Creek Circuit
On our way up the short spur to the summit. The Remarkables in the distance.
Brow Peak - Bush Creek Circuit
Brow Peak as we ascending this shorter alternate route to Big Hill Saddle.
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
I took a very similar picture on this occasion, but this is actually from winter. I’m trying to save space on my server by re-using relevant pictures! This is actually a false summit – you have a bit further to go to reach the real summit. 
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), Arrowtown
Sophia on the summit of Brow Peak (1456m), this shot in winter (obviously).
Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle, Arrowtown
From an afternoon walk up in summer. I don’t know how close this was to the summit or our route up on this occasion, but this is typical of the backcountry views to the north, just much better lighting. You get a of this along the ridge from Big Hill Saddle. Have a look at my other post for the full experience (links in the text).
Brow Peak - Bush Creek Circuit
Sophia on a vantage point looking past Bush Creek over to the Wakatipu Basin.
Brow Peak - Bush Creek Circuit
This photo is mainly about the clouds. The distinctive Mt Beetham in the centre.
Brow Peak - Bush Creek Circuit
Me trying to look intrepid. Arrowtown down there. I liked the cloud formations in the background.
Brow Peak - Bush Creek Circuit
We dropped down to the left and somehow managed to get across Bush Creek to the track.
Brow Peak - Bush Creek Circuit
Bush creek is in a bit of a gorge at this point.
Brow Peak - Bush Creek Circuit
A nice section of Bush Creek.

Brow Peak - Bush Creek Circuit

Brow Peak - Bush Creek Circuit
Wildflowers out.

Track Notes

Brow Peak - Bush Creek Circuit
Going clockwise, deviate from the marked track shortly after the Big Hill turnoff. From the summit you can follow our route for adventure when finding a way over Bush Creek and avoiding cliffs, or else take alternative circuit routes, or indeed return the way you came.

You start on the Bush Creek Saw Pit Gully Circuit, then veer off onto the Big Hill route. You should leave this pretty soon and head off on an obvious impact track up the spur to the ridge, then left along the ridge to the summit.

From here I recommend options other than what we did. You could go a long route and continue on down the ridge towards Coronet Peak, and turn left near point 1377m to join the bush creek route and return back to the car park. Otherwise you could drop down to point 1160m as we did, but drop directly down to the Te Araroa Trail (your outward route), finding a way gap through bush and possibly dead pine trees to reach the trail (there are obvious gaps but I can’t quite remember where to mark them on the map).

Our route involved heading down from point 1160m along the spur almost due south, aiming for what I naively thought might be a gap in the bush to cross Bush Creek and get on the track. The bush was pretty much impenetrable, so we headed back east a few hundred metres to find a way through dead pines and then a thin patch of beech forest to cross the creek. It turned out okay but for a moment I thought we’d have to climb back up to point 1160m and find our way down from there. Near where we crossed, just to the east and lined by beech trees, was a vertical cliff, and so be careful in bad visibility.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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