Mt Lyndon ascent, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ

A short but sometimes steep walk up Mt Lyndon (1489m) for great views over Korowai Torlesse Tussocklands Park, the Craigieburn Range & Lake Lyndon.

I had been saving Mt Lyndon for a day with limited time and/or energy. And so it was on a Waitangi Day long weekend, after doing 6 tramps in the past two weeks, that we plumped for this short but steep climb to the summit of Mt Lyndon (1489m). From this easily accessed vantagepoint the scenes are an attractive patchwork of scree and tussock as you look out over many surrounding peaks in Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park, the Craigieburns, and further afield. You also get good views of Lake Lyndon on your way up and down, and of the main road over Porters Pass. Continue reading “Mt Lyndon ascent, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Haast Route, Victoria Forest Park, West Coast NZ

Fabulous 360 degree views from the top of Mt Haast (1587m) in Victoria Forest Park, accessed on the steep but straightforward Mt Haast Route.

The Mt Haast Route in Victoria Forest Park near Reefton promised to be a short but steep walk to good views from the summit of Mt Haast (1578m). But the views were better than I had anticipated, so much so that I would rate these views high up in my NZ walks to date. The scale of the surrounding glacial topography is not as big as some areas in New Zealand, but it’s very attractive scenery. There’s a real feeling of space up there, with countless peaks, ridges and glacial valleys in all directions. And the lush West Coast forests on lower slopes contrast nicely with the light coloured tussock grass and shrubs on the summits and high ridges. I barely notice the effort I’m expending when I’m enjoying a walk, and so it was on our way steeply down from the summit, despite tired knees from weeks of regular walking over the summer. Highly recommended. Continue reading “Mt Haast Route, Victoria Forest Park, West Coast NZ”

Klondyke Spur & Valley Tracks, Victoria Forest Park, West Coast NZ

A varied walk up the Klondyke Spur Track to above the bushline, with great views before you return via tarns & the Klondyke Valley Track.

On our first trip to the South Island West Coast we’d been denied views on our only long walk of the holiday due to the typical cloudy and wet weather. So with a good long weather window in late summer we headed west again, and our first of two excellent walks was this circuit up the Klondyke Spur Track and down the Klondyke Valley Track. The views were very good, but there was also a nice variety of forest and alpine vegetation, and a number of picturesque tarns in two alpine basins. A period¬† of off-track walking (linking the two tracks) adds to the adventure. Continue reading “Klondyke Spur & Valley Tracks, Victoria Forest Park, West Coast NZ”

Sebastopol via Red Tarns, Aoraki Mt Cook National Park NZ

Climbing Sebastopol (1468m) via the Red Tarns provides grandstand views of many famous features in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park. And a scramble near the top adds a little to the adventure.

It’s just a half day climb from Mt Cook Village to the summit of Sebastopol (1468m) in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park, but the views are quite spectacular. The route first climbs on a constructed track to Red Tarns, which is already a good destination for those without the experience or desire to climb higher. (I’ve separated my photos to Red Tarns from the others below). From there the route follows an unmarked impact track past McNulty Tarns, and up steeply to pass through bluffs near the summit. There’s some scrambling required, but will be fine for those with suitable experience. For this extra effort you get 360 degree views encompassing high peaks, river flats and glacial lakes. And of course peak bagging gratification. Continue reading “Sebastopol via Red Tarns, Aoraki Mt Cook National Park NZ”

Dromedary Hill Track, Lindis Conservation Area, Omarama NZ

The Dromedary Hill Track takes you initially over farmland, then up through the Lindis Conservation Area to the summit at 1664m, where there are views of countless other peaks.

During a stay in Twizel Aoraki Mt Cook National Park had fairly average weather for a couple of days, so I looked further afield for some day walks. The Dromedary Hill Track was one of these walks, and although it isn’t the most spectacular, we didn’t meet anybody all day, and the views from up high were very good. Initial walking is through paddocks, then it’s mostly tussock grass and other alpine and subalpine vegetation. I imagine it would make a good winter walk with some snow on the tops. Continue reading “Dromedary Hill Track, Lindis Conservation Area, Omarama NZ”

Greta Track & Ben Ohau, Ruataniwha Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

Great views of Lake Ohau and surrounding mountains on the Greta Track, with a short side trip to the summit of Ben Ohau (1522m).

Despite following a vehicle track almost the whole way, the Greta Track still makes for a satisfying walk. It gets up the mountain quickly, with a short off-track diversion to visit the summit of Ben Ohau (1522m). The views of scenic Lake Ohau and surrounding peaks are excellent. Completing the circuit takes you at first through attractive tussock country, (although wilding pines are making inroads). The track eventually drops down to Gretas Stream, and follows this most of the way to the lake. Continue reading “Greta Track & Ben Ohau, Ruataniwha Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”

Breast Hill Route, Lake Hawea, Otago NZ

One of the better walks near Wanaka, rugged Breast Hill (1578m) provides views of Lake Hawea and mountains in all directions.

I first learnt of the track to Breast Hill (1578m) from an Instagram follower who used to live in Wanaka. It was his favourite day walk in the area, and I came across another blogger who rated it highly, so I had to give it a go. It is indeed an excellent walk, especially once you hit the ridge, and then again when you get out of sometimes smelly farmland and into Hawea Conservation Park.¬† There are great views of Lake Hawea the whole way, of golden tussock grass hills, and of the steep rugged slopes of Breast Hill itself, as well as various mountain peaks all around. Continue reading “Breast Hill Route, Lake Hawea, Otago NZ”

Gertrude Saddle & Barrier Knob, Fiordland National Park NZ

Some of the best views we’ve ever seen from Gertrude Saddle in Fiordland National Park, then even better ones from Barrier Knob (1879m).

Gertrude Saddle (1410m)

You’d be hard pressed to find better views for only moderate effort than those at Gertrude Saddle.  The fabulous scenery starts on the drive in, and continues right to the saddle, where the best views still await you. I’d seen the pictures but it still knocked my socks off. There is some steep walking on bare rock to be done, but it’s not a long walk, and this accessibility makes it a quite popular. So you won’t get any feeling of isolated splendour unless you start very early, or perhaps very late. But the splendour is extra splendiferous, and makes this walk a must-do for any semi-fit person visiting Fiordland.

Barrier Knob (1879m)

For those wanting even more, the 1km and almost 500m vertical climb to Barrier Knob will make this one of the best day-walks you’ve ever done. The reward from this extra effort will be 360 degree views of the area, in particular the spectacular Lake Adelaide. In mid summer this last bit required climbing up steepish snow slopes, but we came equipped and found the going quite easy. Crossing the snow stopped a lot of the people who had begun to climb above Gertrude Saddle, and hence we had the summit to ourselves for over an hour on this cloudless day in peak holiday season. Continue reading “Gertrude Saddle & Barrier Knob, Fiordland National Park NZ”

Lake Marian Track, Fiordland National Park NZ

A really spectacular alpine lake is your reward at the end of the short but sometimes rough Lake Marian Track in Fiordland National Park.

I was excited to visit Lake Marian on our first walking trip to Fiordland, as I’d seen some pretty epic photos of it. I suppose I had high expectations, but that still doesn’t prepare you for the scale and beauty of the place – it really is wonderful. We had planned our visit to coincide with rare clear skies, but I think the area would look great in any weather with visibility. (An Instagram follower said so anyway). The lake is the highlight of course, but on the way up the wild and scenic Marian Creek will also capture your attention. Continue reading “Lake Marian Track, Fiordland National Park NZ”

Coronet Peak to Brow Peak, Queenstown NZ

Views over golden hills and into the Wakatiu Basin on this walk from Coronet Peak ski field to the summit (1650m) & then to Brow Peak (1456m).

I’d climbed Brow Peak (1456m) twice from Arrowtown, and it was one of the better walks I’d done, especially in nice lighting. I knew the route continued to Coronet Peak (1650m), and on Christmas Day my wife Sophia and I decided to fit this into the morning before a Christmas date with neighbours in the afternoon.

Walking through the ski field to the summit of Coronet Peak was not the best experience, but the views are excellent once at the summit. And then the ridge walk to Brow Peak is a much wilder affair, being free of ski apparatus. And as open tussock grass country you get views the whole way, over the Wakatipu Basin and rugged slopes on the southern side of the ridge, and numerous golden hills and valleys in all other directions. Continue reading “Coronet Peak to Brow Peak, Queenstown NZ”