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”

Mt Aicken ascent (1863m), Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ

Superb alpine scenery in all directions on this lesser known walk up Mt Aicken (1863m) in Arthur’s Pass National Park.

On our first visit to Arthur’s Pass National Park we climbed the popular Avalanche Peak. On this walk there were great views across the valley, and I was particularly enamoured by a smaller valley that bent around out of sight behind some mountains. (This valley contains Devils Punchbowl Creek, and the impressive waterfall of the same name is easily visited). I noticed that a route up Mt Aicken would provide views of this valley, and after a little research we decided to return a few days later to climb it. The views were fabulous, at least as good as Avalanche Peak but with much fewer people. And it felt a bit more adventurous being mostly off track and unmarked. Continue reading “Mt Aicken ascent (1863m), Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ”

Avalanche Peak Circuit, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ

Fabulous scenery on this classic and somewhat adventurous walk in Arthur’s Pass National Park.

The excellent but somewhat notorious routes to the summit of Avalanche Peak attract many hikers of various abilities, and have killed 11 of them apparently. Nevertheless, both routes to the summit are marked, and the views are just fabulous, especially after a bit of snow. This was our first time in Arthur’s Pass National Park and it exceeded already high expectations, with pleasingly steep and rugged tracks up through beautiful beech forest, then epic views of mountains, ridges and valleys in all directions. The opportunity to make this a circuit walk adds to the appeal. Continue reading “Avalanche Peak Circuit, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ”

Castle Hill Peak via Foggy Peak, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ

Stark and ruggedly beautiful scenery on this classic Canterbury tramp up Castle Hill Peak (1998m) via Foggy Peak, in Korowai/ Torlesse Tussocklands Park.

This classic Canterbury walk in Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park, an hour west of Christchurch, takes you to Castle Hill Peak (1998m), the high point of the Torlesse Range. The scenery is starkly beautiful, with large areas of scree intermixed with colourful scrub and tussock. There are extensive views over mountains, valleys, lakes and the Canterbury Plains. Continue reading “Castle Hill Peak via Foggy Peak, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ”

Queens Drive – Wye Creek Circuit (autumn), Remarkables Range NZ

The Queens Drive-Wye Creek circuit is a great walk high up in the Remarkables Range, with unparalleled views of the Queenstown area, steep drop offs, and rugged alpine scenery. Not one for those with a fear of heights!

Our second time to do this really excellent circuit walk, which offers extensive views over Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, rugged alpine scenery, and enough exposure on the Queens Drive portion to get the heart pumping. You won’t find many more dramatic and yet accessible day-walks than this. Continue reading “Queens Drive – Wye Creek Circuit (autumn), Remarkables Range NZ”

Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam, Kosciuszko National Park NSW

Some of Australia’s best scenery on this long and varied walk to Mount Sentinel in Kosciuszko National Park, where there are fabulous views of the dramatic Western Fall.

Australia’s Kosciuszko National Park is a home to the nation’s highest ground, and its landscapes are uniquely attractive, if not always particularly dramatic. Well, that impression changed after climbing the isolated peak of Mount Sentinel (1900m), which provides excellent views of the so called Western Fall. Mostly out of reach for the casual day hiker, I hadn’t seen these rugged and sometimes near vertical drop offs before. But the Sentinel happens to stick out in the middle of it all, and hence provides some of the best views on all of the mainland. Continue reading “Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam, Kosciuszko National Park NSW”

Bluff Mountain & Grand High Tops, Warrumbungle National Park NSW

The must do circuit walk in the Warrumbungles, taking in famous views of the Breadknife from Grand High Tops, and a visit to Bluff Mountain (1200m) where there are more great views.

The Grand High Tops Circuit with an added side trip to Bluff Mountain (1200m) is arguably the best walk in the Warrumbungles, especially for views. From Grand High Tops there are classic views of the pleasingly named rock formation, The Breadknife, which is a tall, thin and sheer slice of rock that you pass on the way up. There are also great views of nearby Crater Bluff, and of Belougery Spire, both prominent and striking hunks of rock. Continue reading “Bluff Mountain & Grand High Tops, Warrumbungle National Park NSW”

Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungle National Park NSW

A long walk with excellent views from the summit over the whole of the Warrumbungles, although you might find the highlight are the huge numbers of fabulous grass trees in the final 200 vertical metres.

Mt Exmouth (1206m) is the highest point in Warrumbungle National Park, and I’ll admit to a spot of peak bagging in doing this walk. Nevertheless, I’d read that the views from the summit were excellent, and they were, although a bit hazy on an overcast day. Unexpectedly though, another feature of this walk stole the show, and that was the preponderance of fabulous grass trees on the final ascent to the summit. I’ve never seen so many in my life, and they were fine specimens indeed. So I’d recommend this walk even just for these, but the views will be an added bonus. Continue reading “Mt Exmouth via Burbie Canyon, Warrumbungle National Park NSW”