Big Hill – Arrow River Circuit, Arrowtown NZ

A nice circuit walk out the back of Arrowtown, taking in tussock country on Big Hill (1137m), & a section of the Arrow River and Gorge.

This was another great walk out the back of Arrowtown near Queenstown. The route first climbs steadily from the edge of town steadily to Big Hill Saddle, passing through a mix of vegetation including a pleasant stand of beech forest. Then it’s up and over Big Hill itself, with views of the region’s typically wrinkly, tussock grass covered topography that looks particularly attractive in winter lighting. Continue reading “Big Hill – Arrow River Circuit, Arrowtown NZ”

Moke Lake Loop Track, Queenstown NZ

The Moke Lake Loop Track is an easygoing walk around this picturesque lake near Queenstown, surrounded by mountains.

Moke Lake is situated in a scenic area surrounded by mountains, and is just a short drive from downtown Queenstown. The walk around the lake on the Moke Lake Loop Track is easygoing and suitable for families. On a winter’s afternoon I found the lighting quite attractive and enjoyed the walk despite usually opting for more challenging terrain. Continue reading “Moke Lake Loop Track, Queenstown NZ”

Moke Lake Viewpoint & Williamson Spur, Queenstown NZ

It’s a short but steep climb to the informal Moke Lake Viewpoint, then an adventurous scramble up Williamson Spur for ever expanding views.

The informal Moke Lake Viewpoint is an increasingly popular spot to visit for views of this scenic lake and surrounding area. The lookout is on the Williamson Spur, and adventurous trampers can head further up the spur for increasingly good views that exceeded my expectations. There’s quite rugged scenery to the north, and the spur itself is pretty gnarly, plus expanding views of Moke Lake as you climb higher. Certainly the misty weather helped add some character to the views, but I’m sure clear weather would reveal some nice scenes we missed out on.

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Lorn Peak ascent, Kingston, Otago NZ

A walk at the southern end of Lake Wakatipu to the summit of Lorn Peak (1638m). Excellent views, including over the lake the whole way.

The route to Lorn Peak (1638m) takes you at first through farmland, then into the attractive tussock and alpine Remarkables Conservation Area. There are great views over the southern end of Lake Wakatipu all of the way from Kingston up to Queenstown. From the summit there are views up and down the Hector Mountains, and west over the Nevis Valley and Garvie Mountains. Continue reading “Lorn Peak ascent, Kingston, Otago NZ”

Lake Hope Viewpoint Route, Hector Mountains, Queenstown area NZ

An adventurous route to 2000m in the Hector Mountains, with views of Lake Hope and rugged mountain scenery. Requires off-track navigation and bush-bashing.

This was not a planned walk. We had intended to visit the alpine Lake Hope, but couldn’t find the route up Wye Creek South Branch. Instead we found a route up through scrub and tussock to a high ridge with excellent views of the lake. Not to mention great views of Lake Wakatipu, the back of the Remarkables, into Wye Creek Valley, and over the high peaks of the rugged Hector Range. And if you had more time than us you could drop down to Lake Hope anyway. Only downside is a challenging bush bash on the steepest terrain of the walk, so this is not one for beginners. Continue reading “Lake Hope Viewpoint Route, Hector Mountains, Queenstown area NZ”

Lake Hayes Walkway, Arrowtown area NZ

The Lake Hayes Walkway is an easy 8km walk around Lake Hayes, near Arrowtown, passing through a variety of vegetation on a well formed track.

Despite numerous holidays in Queenstown over the years we had never done this short and pleasant walk around Lake Hayes: the Lake Hayes Walkway. There are more interesting tracks to do first I guess, but this was a good option to stretch our legs after lunch in Arrowtown one day when we needed to recover from other longer tramps. There’s a bit of variety, with small wetlands and a number of wetland birds in residence, as well as small stands of trees, some native scrub and exotic plants/trees. Continue reading “Lake Hayes Walkway, Arrowtown area 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”

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”

Best Day-hikes in Queenstown, New Zealand

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.

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Crown Peak ascent, near Arrowtown NZ

Excellent winter scenery on the ascent up Crown Peak (1735m) from in Arrowtown, near Queenstown. 360 degree views from the summit are a highlight.

The walk up Crown Peak (1735m) from Arrowtown is yet another underrated hike near Queenstown. There were excellent 360 degree views from the summit rocks, and a variety of scenery with Central Otago’s roly-poly mountains and wrinkly ridgelines, some pointy peaks, valleys, the Wakatipu Basin, and a nice angle on Lake Wakatipu itself. Continue reading “Crown Peak ascent, near Arrowtown NZ”