Canterbury 2000m High Peaks You Can Climb in a Day

A selection of 2000m high peaks in Canterbury New Zealand that can you climb in a day.

Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury

There’s nothing more satisfying for me than climbing a mountain to epic views, then making it down in time for a nice dinner and indoor plumbing. (Yes I’m a princess). Here in Canterbury New Zealand there are many opportunities for such walks. But for an added sense of achievement and adventure, I like to stretch myself and climb a 2000m high peak from the bottom. There are limited opportunities for summitting a 2000m peak in a day due to the often long distances involved, however I’ve managed a few in the past year, and have a few more on the to-do list.

For now I’ll share the peaks I’ve done, and then add to this list as I do more. Just click on the title or picture to open my original blog post on each walk.

Mt Taylor 2333m

Mt Taylor ascent, Canterbury
Looking west over a veritable moonscape from the summit of Mt Taylor (2333m).
The climb: ~ 1650m over 31km (return)

At 2333m, Mt Taylor is the Big Daddy of the Canterbury Foothills, and climbing it makes for an excellent if rather long day out. It’s a pretty barren mountain, and the 10km approach across flat plains means you’ve done a good sized walk even before you start climbing. But there’s a real sense of adventure as you set off up the rugged Swin River South Branch, then climb up through tussock and scree to the summit.

There’s a hut at the base of the mountain if you want to make this an overnighter, which might be necessary in the shorter days.

Mt Potts 2184m

Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Mt Arrowsmith (2781m) viewed from Mt Potts (2184m).
The climb: ~ 1600m over 11km (return)

I think Mt Potts was my favourite of the 2000m high peaks I did in my first year living in NZ. It’s a fairly steady climb to the top, with great views all the way from the bottom, and then the best views of the day from the summit. We made a circuit of it, and the route back along an old ski field road was easygoing and yet still atmospheric. I also think doing this in spring helped, as a bit of snow on the tops made it all the more scenic.

Mt Cloudsley 2107m

Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park
Clouds on Mt Cloudsley (2107m).
The climb: ~ 1350m over 12km (return)

This was my first time to climb a 2000 metre high peak from the bottom, the bottom being at 760m in this case.  Despite these numbers it is a fairly straightforward climb up Long Spur to the summit of Mt Cloudsley (2107m), the second highest peak in the Craigieburn Range. I would rate this as one of the easiest of the walks in this compilation.

It made for a great winter walk after some fresh snow, with views along the Craigieburn Range and over to the Torlesse Range. And from the summit, views south-west over a jumble of topography around Lake Coleridge, and north-west towards numerous peaks in the Southern Alps.

Godley Peak 2087m & Moorhouse Peak 2025m

Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
Godley Peak (2087m) centre, and Moorhouse Peak (2025m) to the right.
The climb: ~ 1600m over 20km (return)

Climbing Godley Peak (2087m) offers a fairly remote walking experience in a long day-hike. And you can bag a second high summit, Moorehouse Peak (2025m), for just another kilometre of walking. The patchwork of colourful pink scree and golden tussock of the surrounding slopes is very attractive if you like that sort of thing. There are views of the Rakaia Valley for almost the whole walk, and there are higher peaks in the Main Divide not too far away.

Some bush bashing required on this walk early on, but nice open travel afterwards.

Bonus: Castle Hill Peak 1998m

Castle Hill Peak via Foggy Peak (in spring)
My wife on the summit of Castle Hill Peak (1998m).
The climb: ~ 1200m over 11km (return)

Falling two frustrating metres below my height criteria for this post, tall people and those willing to jump can nevertheless claim to have hit the 2000m mark when they have summitted Castle Hill Peak. This walk is considered a bit of a winter classic, although you’ll need the right gear and experience for that. You visit Foggy Peak along the way, and that is enough for some hikers. But for extra adventure and views then Castle Hill Peak beckons along aa long and broad ridge. Conveniently reached from Christchurch, you’ll meet more people on this walk than most of the others in this list.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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