Castle Hill Peak via Foggy Peak (in spring), Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ

Our second time to do this classic Canterbury tramp, this time in a bit of snow: Castle Hill Peak (1998m) via Foggy Peak (1741m).

I first did this classic Canterbury walk up Castle Hill Peak (1998m) via Foggy Peak in autumn, not long after I had arrived in Christchurch (that post here). On that snowless day there were gale force winds and the final ascent to the summit felt rather adventurous. I had wanted to return and repeat the walk in snow because I’d read that it made for good winter tramping. The Torlesse Range captures and holds a fair bit of snow, so I waited until a sunny day in early spring to do this, having so many good new walks to do over the winter. Continue reading “Castle Hill Peak via Foggy Peak (in spring), Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ”

Ben More Tops Circuit, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ

Rugged scenery as you ascend to Ben More (1655m) along broad ridges on this circuit walk in Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park.

I’d heard this circuit walk along the tops of Ben More, the high point of the Big Ben Range in Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park, was a good winter tramping option, with safe enough travel for those less experienced in snow. By time we did the walk in early spring there’s wasn’t much slow left, but enough to add to the aesthetics of the area. However I think the rugged scenery would look good in any season. Continue reading “Ben More Tops Circuit, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park, Canterbury NZ

Great views in all directions as you climb to the accessible high peak of Mt Cloudsley (2107m) in the Craigieburn Range near Castle Hill.

This was my first time to climb a 2000 metre high peak from the bottom (the bottom being at 760m in this case), and was also the highest I’d climbed in New Zealand.  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. 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. Continue reading “Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Oakden ascent, Canterbury NZ

Really spectacular views the whole way up Mt Oakden (1633m), including braided river valleys, Lake Coleridge & mountains galore. A real classic.

I got quite excited when first reading about this somewhat challenging tramp up Mt Oakden (1633m), and it did not disappoint. The mountain’s position at the foot of the braided Wilberforce River provides epic views straight up this valley, and these were a real highlight for me. Added to this are excellent views up the Harper Valley, of the Rakaia River, Lake Coleridge, and countless peaks in the Southern Alps. Do it on a clear day for maximum effect. Continue reading “Mt Oakden ascent, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Charon & Dunblane, Hanmer Range, Canterbury NZ

A long but excellent walk to the summit of Mt Charon (1560m) from Jacks Pass, also taking in the peak named Dunblane (1303m). Great views and very attractive heath vegetation. 

We wanted a quieter walk to do on our first trip to the Hanmer Springs area, and this was a great choice. We met nobody else on a Sunday doing this long but very enjoyable walk to the summit of Mt Charon (1560m) via Dunblane (1303m) from Jacks Pass (870m). The very colourful heath vegetation was a real highlight, as where the views towards numerous other mountains, over the Hanmer Plains, and into a few valleys. Going as far as Mt Charon felt satisfyingly remote, but the much shorter trip to only Dunblane and back would also be a good option. Continue reading “Mt Charon & Dunblane, Hanmer Range, Canterbury NZ”

Steepface Hill ascent, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

Really excellent views over the braided Rakaia River and countless mountains on this big ascent up Steepface Hill (1876m) in Hakatere Conservation Park.

Since moving to Canterbury (NZ) in Autumn 2020 I’d had my eyes on Mt Hutt (2185m), the high point of a prominent mountain range bordering the Rakaia River. This would be a big walk with limited winter daylight hours, so a good plan B was to first climb a peak at the northern end of this range, Steepface Hill (1876m): a 1500m vertical climb over just four kilometres, and the only ridge on the route up is mostly flat. It’s all in the name! It’s not all about the steepness though, because the views of the Rakaia River and countless surrounding peaks were just fabulous. Also very cool was Terrible Gully at the start, a rather jagged waterway cut out of the hillside. Continue reading “Steepface Hill ascent, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Harper Circuit, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

This circuit walk up Mt Harper (1829m) offers wide open views of the Ashburton Lakes District & the Rangitata River, with the Southern Alps providing the backdrop.

With a forecast of cloudy weather to the north and west of Canterbury this walk up Mt Harper (1829m) in the Ashburton Lakes District was a plan B. It turned out to be one of the best walks we’ve done, with fabulous views in all directions. There’s variety in the views as well, with rugged snowy peaks, lumpier mountains, wide plains punctuated with shallow lakes, and the Rangitata River Valley. The overall impression is of remoteness, which I always like on a walk. Continue reading “Mt Harper Circuit, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”

Red Hill via Porter River, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ

Really spectacular views from the summit of Red Hill (1641m), climbed via the Porter River. Not a long walk but off-track and a bit slow going in deep snow.

This tramp up to the summit of Red Hill via the Porter River was our first totally off-track walk, and also our first walk in snow from start to finish. The increasingly deep snow made it hard work for a while, until the climb up to alpine elevations thinned out the vegetation. But the really spectacular views from the summit of Red Hill (1641m) made it all worthwhile, with Lake Coleridge to the west surrounded by numerous mountains popping up out of the otherwise flat plains, and to the east and south east were snowy peaks galore. The Canterbury Plains are also visible, although covered by a cloud inversion on the day we did it. Continue reading “Red Hill via Porter River, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Oxford Loop, Oxford Forest Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ

A varied loop walk with great views from the summit of Mt Oxford, plus beautiful beech forest and a nice waterfall on the return leg.

After arriving in New Zealand I’d been waiting for a bit of snow before climbing Mt Oxford, one of the more accessible mountains from Christchurch. After a warm and sunny week in early winter there was just enough left to add to the aesthetics on high ground, including the upper reaches of beech forest, but plenty still on surrounding higher peaks. I’d heard the views from the summit were good, and they were, but the nicest surprise was some of the most beautiful beech forest I’ve seen in New Zealand on the upper slopes of the return leg. There’s also a short side trip to the attractive three tier Ryde Falls. Continue reading “Mt Oxford Loop, Oxford Forest Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ”

Big Ben via Dry Acheron Stream, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ

Good variety on this walk along the Dry Acheron Stream, then up steeply to the summit of Big Ben (1416m), with views of various hills & tall peaks, both near & far.

We first walked the Dry Acheron Track intending to climb Big Ben (1416m), but on that day there was low cloud and we turned back. A few weeks later after snowfall we thought we’d return and finish the job. Snow and clear blue skies added some variety to the grey skies of our first visit, and intense NW winds some adventure when on the upper reaches of the mountain. There’s great views from the slopes of Big Ben, including a jumble of topography towards Lake Coleridge, and a rather striking Mount Hutt Range popping out of the Canterbury Plains. Continue reading “Big Ben via Dry Acheron Stream, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ”