Mt Enys & Mt Cloudsley Circuit, Craigieburn Range, Canterbury NZ

A long circuit over Mt Enys (2194m) & Mt Cloudsley (2107m), the two highest peaks in the Craigieburn Range. Fabulous views from the tops.

Four named peaks on this long and sometimes gnarly circuit, three of them over 2000m. Starting just outside Castle Hill Village, you first climb Mt Cloudsley (2107m) on a fairly straightforward route, then travel along the tops to Mt Enys (2194m), the highest peak in the Craigieburn Range. Soak in the epic views here, particularly those over lumpy topography to the west.

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Mid Hill via Lagoon Saddle, Craigieburn Forest Park, Canterbury NZ

Great views and nice variety on this walk to Mid Hill (1831m) in Craigieburn Forest Park, with forest, tussock, a rocky ridge & lots of tarns.

The climb to Mid Hill (1831m) via Lagoon Saddle is mostly easy travel with maybe 300m of moderate scrambling along a rocky ridge to get to the summit. Once out of the beech and pine at the start there are views for the rest of the walk and many attractive tarns between Lagoon Saddle and the final climb up onto the ridge. Arthur’s Pass is to the north, but some of the best views are the Black Range to the south-east, a patchwork of dark green forest and grey scree. Views west are over rugged and remote country. A very satisfying walk. 

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Mt Hanley from Moke Lake, Queenstown NZ

Lots of scrambling, exposure and tricky route finding on the way up Mt Hanley from Moke Lake, along Williamson Spur.

On a previous occasion we’d set off for Mt Hanley and made it only part way up Williamson Spur, turning back in less than ideal weather. There was already some scrambling and exposure going that far, but climbing all the way to the summit involved quite a bit more, and ended up being the scariest walk I’ve done to date! It didn’t help that my wife Sophia pulled out that morning and I went by myself. I probably shouldn’t have. This walk is best done with somebody else, and anybody who tries it will need to be comfortable with scrambling and exposure. The views are good, particularly when there are shadows highlighting the many ridges on the surrounding hillsides (which I didn’t really have in mid summer). Continue reading “Mt Hanley from Moke Lake, Queenstown NZ”

Lake Nerine Circuit, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ

An epic 3-4 day circuit in Mt Aspiring National Park, visiting Lake Nerine and sampling some of NZ’s best scenery along the way.

This three to four-day circuit walk visiting Lake Nerine was our best and hardest walk to date. The route passes through unspoilt wilderness on the western side of Mt Aspiring National Park bordering Fiordland. You bag two beautiful valleys – the Routeburn / Routeburn North Branch and the Rockburn;  three mountain passes – North Col, Parks Pass and Sugarloaf Pass; and walk under the towering Humboldt Mountains pretty much the whole way. And then there’s a multitude of tarns and lakes with Lake Nerine the jewel in the crown. Continue reading “Lake Nerine Circuit, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ”

Mt Cheeseman from Texas Flat, Craigieburn Range, Canterbury NZ

Fabulous views await those who climb steeply to Mt Cheeseman (2031m), a peak on the crest of the Craigieburn Range.

Prior to climbing Mt Cheeseman (2031m) we had done only one other big walk in the Craigieburn Range, climbing nearby Mt Cloudsley. So our second peak on the range crest was overdue, but what a great peak it was. I hadn’t expected such fabulous views, which include the impressive Mt Olympus (2094m) – for me the highlight of these vistas. But there are countless peaks in every direction, so a real visual feast. Throw in a couple of tarns and a proper work out, and you have an excellent day out for more experienced walkers.

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Buckland Peaks Track, Paparoa National Park, West Coast NZ

Exceptional views over the Paparoa Range from the Buckland Peaks. Stay at the hut or camp out to give yourself more time to explore the tops.

I’d come across the Buckland Peaks Track while looking over topo maps, and it looked like a doozy. With a two day weather window and some mid week leave planned, my wife Sophia and I headed over to the West Coast and spent a night camping up on the Buckland Peaks tops. The views are exceptional, and with a decent sized plateau to wander around you can get numerous perspectives on peaks in the Paparoa Range, views inland, and views up and down the coast. Continue reading “Buckland Peaks Track, Paparoa National Park, West Coast NZ”

Mt Norma Route, Lewis Pass, Canterbury NZ

A lesser known walk up Mt Norma (1722m) in the Lewis Pass region, with spectacular views of numerous mountain peaks and glacial valleys.

I came across the Mt Norma Access Track on my way up Nina Valley, and as always got a bit excited at the prospect of another easily accessible mountain summit in the Lewis Pass area. I waited a long time for a good weather window to get up there, but it finally came in the middle of a very snowy winter, so the views of mountain peaks and valleys galore were extra beautiful. With so much snow this turned out to be a bit adventurous also, and probably the closest we’ve come to mountaineering.

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Patutu Route, Canterbury NZ

Excellent coastal views plus views inland over the Seaward Kaikoura Range from the top of Patutu (1162m).

Patutu (1162m) lies in the far north of Canterbury, about 25 minutes drive north of Kaikoura. Like the nearby and more famous walk up Mt Fyffe, much of the ascent to the summit of Patutu is along an old vehicle track. And much of this through a variety of regenerating native bush. Most of the views start from roughly two-thirds of the way up. Views from the summit are very good, taking in some of the highest mountains north of the Southern Alps, and a long stretch of coastline, as far as the North Island. The mountains include a somewhat distant Tapuae-O-Uenuku (2885m), and the nearby Seaward Kaikoura Range. Continue reading “Patutu Route, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ

The climb to Mt Phililstine (1967m) provides an adventurous alpine walking experience with fabulous views, including those of nearby Mt Rolleston.

One of the more gnarly walks in Arthur’s Pass National Park, the climb to Mt Philistine (1967m) from Otira Valley provides an adventurous walking experience through rugged terrain. It was our first time to climb a glaciated mountain, and there are excellent views of the Rolleston Glacier on the mountain’s southern slopes, of nearby Mt Rolleston (2275m), and of many other peaks and valleys in Arthur’s Pass. Continue reading “Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ”

Black Mountain, Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

Spectacular views of barren 2500m high peaks, glacial valleys & the Rangitata River, from the summit of Black Mountain (1809m).

I had wanted to visit this remote corner of Canterbury for some time, but I was put off for a while by the long distances required to get to what I thought to be the most interesting peaks. Nevertheless, after studying the topo map in more detail I saw that the views should be good from Black Mountain (1809m), and it certainly delivered. You get really spectacular views of barren 2500m peaks and glacial valleys to the west, and of the Rangitata River to the east, including the confluence with the Havelock and Clyde Rivers. Continue reading “Black Mountain, Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”