A varied and satisfying climb to the summit of Mt Somers (1688m), with forest, sub-alpine and eventually alpine vegetation along the way. Great views from the top despite some cloud getting in the way.
I’d been keen to climb Mt Somers soon after moving Christchurch, but for a few weeks Covid-19 restrictions got in the way. After they lifted we set off to summit this mountain before winter set in. I’d seen some photos online and thought it would be just okay, but it exceeded my expectations. Despite the northern aspect being completely obscured by cloud, the views in all other directions were excellent, and the mountain tall and rugged enough to make the climb very satisfying. And the lower slopes are forested with beech and later manuka trees, which makes for a nice change from the more open walks in the area. Continue reading “Mt Somers from Sharplin Falls Reserve, Canterbury NZ”
A short but steep climb to the summit of Mt Barrosa (1364m; sometimes ‘Barossa’) provides all round views of Hakatere Conservation Park and surrounding peaks.
Mt Barrosa is apparently a new-ish addition to the large Hakatere Conservation Park in Mid Canterbury. It sits in the Clent Hills, and you can continue across these to other destinations such as Lake Emily. If all you’re after are extensive views of the surrounding countryside then climbing to the summit and back on a short but steep poled route makes for a good half day option. Continue reading “Mt Barrosa Summit Track, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”
A varied climb to the summit of Mt Bradley (855m) on the Banks Peninsula through all manner of vegetation, including pine plantations, paddocks, fields of tussock, and patches of native bush.
On our first ever walk in the Port Hills I spied the two highest points on the Banks Peninsula, Mt Herbert (920m) and Mt Bradley (855m). I knew you could climb Mt Herbert on a few different routes, but Mt Bradley looked to be the more interesting mountain, and I researched options to climb this. I settled on walking the Te Ara Pataka/Summit Walkway from Gebbies Pass, past Packhorse Hut, and then taking a short unmarked side track up onto Mt Bradley. Despite being mostly a modified landscape, the varied vegetation was nevertheless interesting and the views extensive. Low cloud on Mt Herbert added to the experience on the day. Continue reading “Mt Bradley from Gebbies Pass, Banks Peninsula, Canterbury NZ”
A varied circuit walk through a nature reserve in the Port Hills near Christchurch. There are good views of Lyttelton Harbour including Governors Bay.
During our first weeks living in Christchurch we were limited as to where we could hike due to the Covid 19 restrictions. Consequently we did a few walks in the Port Hills and surrounds because they met the definition of ‘local’. This walk was in the Ohinetahi Reserve on the hills above Govenors Bay, only about 20-30 minutes drive from Christchurch. We did a loop around the outer edge of the reserve, through sections of forest but also wide open sections with excellent views of Lyttelton Harbour. We added a short side trip to Cass Peak for lunch. Continue reading “Ohinetahi Reserve Circuit, Governors Bay, Canterbury NZ”
Great views over the port town of Lyttelton and its harbour on this circuit in the Port Hills, just south of Christchurch.
This circuit walk in the Port Hills next to Christchurch takes in part of the Crater Rim Walkway above Lyttelton, the South Island’s major port. There are great views of Lytteton Harbour and the town itself, and a bit of a workout as you ascend onto the tops. This area is part of an old volcano, and you can see the shape of the crater in the surrounding hills. There are also views over Christchurch to the north, and out over the Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps in the west. The vegetation is a bit mixed and not always that attractive, although there were nice sections of tussock grass up high. Continue reading “Urumau-Crater Rim Circuit, Lyttelton, Canterbury NZ”
Excellent views of mountain ranges and Lake Lyndon for just moderate effort on this walk to Trig M (1,251m) in Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park.
Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park is a conservation area about one hour’s drive from Christchurch. There’s fairly easy access to some of the peaks in the park from Porters Pass, which rises to 939m of elevation. One of the easiest peaks to reach is the oddly named Trig M (1,251m), and the views from the summit are excellent, taking in various mountain ranges and adjacent Lake Lyndon .
The shortest route to the top is from Starvation Gully, and might take a couple of hours return. If that’s a bit short then try the Coach Stream Track, which will take closer to 3 hours return. There’s a bit more variety on this route, and good views towards the Canterbury Plains earlier on in the walk. A great views to effort ratio whichever route you choose, and not far from Christchurch if you are based there.
I think we joined the Starvation Gully Track around here.
The Coach Stream Track is pretty straightforward, and there’s more information in the DOC brochure for walks in the Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park . The easement through farmland was pretty pooey (cow pats) when we did it, but that’s not a long section. (Note that this section is closed in spring for lambing). The rest is nice. An alternative and shorter track starts from Starvation Gully (and is open year round). The two tracks join towards the top. I think you see more interesting scenery from the Coach Stream Track.
Alternate Route Back
We took an alternate route on the way down that I read about in Wilderness Magazine. You make a partial loop, but the going got quite rough in one section and I’m not sure it adds much to the walk (although you avoid the cow dung this way).
You walk on a faint but obvious track from part way down the Starvation Gully Track. The track runs along a ridge and then down a fence line, crossing over the fence three times to stay on a track of sorts. As you descend more it gets very steep and scrubby. If you persist then you will come to another fence to the left and perpendicular to fence you are following. Cross over this and head over to the start of the obvious (but probably disused) vehicle track which runs up to the highway. (I think this may have be a section of the old coach road). From there it’s an easy descent back down to the outward track.
One thousand metres of ascent and descent along a vehicle track to the summit of Grandview Mountain provides good views of nearby rugged country, and then extensive views over Lake Hawea and distant high peaks.
On entering New Zealand in March 2020 we were soon hit with increasingly severe restrictions due to the Covid 19 epidemic. Before the complete lock-down we snuck in a final hike to the summit of Grandview Mountain at the southern end of Lake Hawea, a new walk for us. The views from the top were indeed grand, although I most liked the views of rugged country we passed by along the way in the Grandview Creek Conservation Area. Continue reading “Grandview Mountain Track, Lake Hawea, Otago”
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!
Experience some of New Zealand’s best scenery on these five classic day-hikes near Glenorchy, just 45 minutes drive from Queenstown.
The sleepy village of Glenorchy sits in a dramatic landscape at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu. It’s a spectacular 45 minute drive from Queenstown along the shore of the lake, and worth making the trip for the drive alone. The scenery on offer is amongst the best in New Zealand, and there are some really world-class hikes in the area, including the famous multi-day Routeburn Track.
Following are five of my favourite day-hikes around Glenorchy. There are majestic mountains, alpine lakes, glaciers, tumbling streams, and atmospheric beech forest. And you might be joined by some of New Zealand’s friendly bird life along the way.
My pick of the best full day-hikes around Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure capital, with a few shorter options thrown in.
Queenstown is truly a hiker’s paradise. There’s dramatic scenery in all directions, and the mountains are filled with well maintained hiking trails. And as a major adventure-tourism destination the area is well serviced and cosmopolitan.
Plenty of tourists visit the area, and yet it seems the majority of people choose not to go hiking. In fact, I’ve sometimes not seen a single other person on the best hikes in the area. So if you are willing to put in the effort, you can have New Zealand’s magical scenery mostly to yourself.