Ben Lomond Track, Queenstown NZ

Climbing Ben Lomond (1748m) is a must do for any reasonably fit hiker visiting Queenstown. The route we take to the top starts on the edge of town, and at first passes through beech forest, then pine forest, and once above the treeline it’s tussock grass until the summit, where there are 360 degree views of the Southern Alps, the Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu.

Standing on the summit of Ben Lomond on a clear enough day, you can blindly point your camera in any direction and come away with an epic landscape shot. There are 360 degree views of the Southern Alps, Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables, and depending on the weather conditions these views might look very different, as the photos that follow will demonstrate. Continue reading “Ben Lomond Track, Queenstown NZ”

Hawkdun Range ascent (point 1857m), Maniototo, Central Otago NZ

An excellent walk through tussock grass to the barren summit plateau of the Hawkdun Range (point 1857m), in the remote Maniototo region of Central Otago.

An excellent walk to the top of the Hawkdun Range (1857m) in the remote Maniototo region of Central Otago, famous for its isolated vistas of golden tussock grass and mountains. The walk starts in the Manuherikia Valley, and after a flat start rises steeply up to the long and barren summit plateau of the Hawkdun Range: about 1100m of ascent and descent. Not as dramatic as the Southern Alps, but very atmospheric, and we had the place to ourselves.  Continue reading “Hawkdun Range ascent (point 1857m), Maniototo, Central Otago NZ”

Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur, Central Otago NZ

This long walk climbs through farmland to the Waikerikeri Conservation Area, and then through rugged tussock grass country to the barren summit of Leaning Rock (1647m), where there are many large tors.

A fairly long walk to the summit of Leaning Rock (1647m), the latter half of which is off track in the Waikerikeri Conservation Area. Starting in farmland, the walk ascends up Lilico Spur to the edge of the conservation area. From there the scenery is predominantly tussock grass, rocky areas, and finally the barren summit moonscape replete with multiple tors of various shapes and sizes. The overall feeling is one of remoteness, (although there are major  communications installations on the summit). Continue reading “Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur, Central Otago NZ”

Cairnmuir Hill Track, Central Otago NZ

This walk starts in New Zealand’s driest area, and climbs onto Cairnmuir Hill at 1114m of elevation. There are extensive views of the moody Dunstan Mountains, and over the flatlands further south.

This walk is one half of a complete traverse of Cairnmuir Hill (1114m) in Central Otago, which would take you from near Bannockburn over to Clyde. It starts in New Zealand’s driest and most arid area, with just introduced thyme eking out an existence. As you steadily climb the country becomes more hospitable, with familiar tussock grass dominating the scenery, along with a few rocky outcrops. There are good views over the moody Dunstan Mountains, with their large tors and wrinkled dark slopes, and also glimpses of the aqua coloured Lake Dunstan in the valley below. Continue reading “Cairnmuir Hill Track, Central Otago NZ”

Byangee Walls Track, Morton National Park, NSW

Climbing through Byangee Walls to the summit plateau of Byangee Mountain in the Budawangs makes for an excellent day walk, and is a bit easier than the nearby ascent of the Castle, which looms overhead for part of the walk. Lots of cliffs along the route and great views from the top.

The Budawangs Range in Morton National Park offers some of the NSW’s best hiking, and Byangee Walls is one of the classic day walks. There are spectacular sections as you walk along the base of the walls, and also under the most significant landmark in the area, the Castle. (Climbing the Castle is an even more spectacular walk, partially because of the views of Byangee Mountain itself, which is very attractive from above).  The views from the top are extensive, and include nearby Pigeon House Mountain, the Clyde Valley, and looking up at the 840m high Castle.  Continue reading “Byangee Walls Track, Morton National Park, NSW”

Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park NSW

The Main Range Track is Australia’s highest walk, passing through rare alpine vegetation, and taking in a number of glacial lakes and Australia’s most extensive views. A side trip to Mt Townsend (2210m) is well worth it.

One of NSW and Australia’s classic day walks, the Main Range Walk in Kosciuszko National Park is also Australia’s highest walking track, maintaining an elevation between roughly 1800m and 2200m. It’s a 22km loop through alpine vegetation, taking in glacial lakes and Australia’s most extensive views along the way. The side trip to Australia’s second highest peak, Mt Townsend (2210m), is well worth it, and offers a more interesting experience than the shorter side trip to our highest peak, Mt Kosciuszko (2228m). If you were keen you could do both, but we by passed Kosciuszko as we’d been there before. The walk as depicted here was about 25km with 750m change in elevation. Continue reading “Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park NSW”

Brewster Hut Track to high ridge, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ

After a long climb through attractive beech forest you’ll be rewarded with classic South Island views of high mountains, including Mt Brewster & its glacier. Continue upwards from Brewster Hut towards Mt Armstrong for even more views.

This is definitely one of my favourite walks. Starting at the frigidly beautiful Haast River, the track climbs steeply through attractive beech forest to the tree line. It then climbs onto a narrow ridge and up further to Brewster Hut at 1400m of elevation. There are views of many high mountains to the west, and up towards Mt Brewster (2516m) and its glacier. Continue reading “Brewster Hut Track to high ridge, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ”

Mt Alfred ascent, near Glenorchy NZ

Mt Alfred sits alone on the edge of Mt Aspiring National Park, and the summit provides some of my favourite views in New Zealand.

Mt Alfred stands alone in one of the most picturesque spots in New Zealand. The summit provides some of the finest views in the country, with archetypal scenery north into Mt Aspiring National Park, and south over Lake Wakatipu. The Dart River runs from the former into the latter, and adds to the already starkly contrasting colours. Continue reading “Mt Alfred ascent, near Glenorchy NZ”

Sealy Tarns & beyond to ~1740m, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park NZ

Really spectacular views the whole way on this steep alpine walk to Sealy Tarns and beyond, in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park.

A really spectacular (and steep) alpine walk in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park to two excellent vantage points: first to the attractive Sealy Tarns at 1300m, and then for the energetic continue on up the hill towards Mueller Hut onto a spur at about 1740m of elevation. There are views of Mt Sefton (3151m), NZ’s highest peak Aoraki/Mt Cook (3755m), various glaciers and glacier lakes, and the Hooker River Valley 1000m below. Highly recommended. Continue reading “Sealy Tarns & beyond to ~1740m, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park NZ”