Mt Catherine via south ridge, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

Excellent views & good variety on this long ridge walk up Mt Catherine (2085m) from the south, with scenic options to return via scree slopes, streams & the TA.

I had unfinished business on Mt Catherine (2085m) in Hakatere Conservation Park near Lake Heron. I tried climbing it from the west in winter, but didn’t make the summit. This time I climbed it from the south on a long ridge, taking a scenic variation on the way back to complete a very satisfying day out.

There are views for miles from the ridge, of Lake Heron and its distinctive neighbour Sugarloaf, the Arrowsmith Range, and countless barren mountains to the north and east, many over 2000m high.  My return route along a stream down to the Te Araroa was very pleasant, and included the most dangerously beautiful speargrass I’ve ever seen. Continue reading “Mt Catherine via south ridge, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”

Blue Hill – Willis Peak – Porters Circuit, Craigieburn Range, Canterbury NZ

Big views on this circuit around Porters ski field, taking in Blue Hill (1946m) and Willis Peak (1962m) in the Craigieburn Range.

One of my earlier walks in Canterbury was up Red Hill, with fabulous views of Lake Coleridge and surrounds. Opposite Red Hill is the taller Blue Hill (1946m) in the Craigieburn Range, a steep climb on mostly scree from the Porter Heights Access Road, which provides access to the ski field. From there a very easy ridge walk gets you to nearby Willis Peak (1962m; which is unnamed on some maps). The views from these two peaks are similarly good, those from Willis Peak being a particularly impressive jumble of lumpy arid mountains, backed by tall peaks in the Southern Alps. To extend your adventure and views you can complete a circuit by circumnavigating the Porters ski field, descending to the road on a spur from point 1997m. Continue reading “Blue Hill – Willis Peak – Porters Circuit, Craigieburn Range, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Sinclair ascent, Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

An adventurous route up past a very scenic tarn to the summit of Mt Sinclair (2065m) with spectacular views, especially to the north.

It took me quite a while to get around to climbing Mt Sinclair (2065m), though I’d had my eyes on it for a couple of years. The mountain sits a fairly long way from anywhere, south of the Rangitata River, and the way up is not so obvious. I expect most people who visit do so by helicopter, landing next to the picturesque tarn at about 1600m. The tarn is indeed very nice, and could be a worthy destination on foot, but views from the summit are pretty spectacular and worth the extra climb. Perhaps the highlight are views north over countless high peaks, including the Two Thumbs Range to the NW. Continue reading “Mt Sinclair ascent, Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Izard from Texas Flat, Craigieburn Range, Canterbury NZ

Climb to the 2019m high peak Mt Izard in the Craigieburn Range for excellent views of neighbouring Mt Cheeseman and countless other peaks.

The Craigieburn Range has a number of 2000m high peaks that can be climbed in a day, and Mt Izard (2019m) was our latest conquest in this Canterbury High Country playground. The route is pretty straightforward, following the Hogs Back Track for a little over an hour and then taking one easterly spur all the way to the summit. The views of neighbouring Mt Cheeseman and on down the crest of the Cragieburn Range are a highlight, but there are plenty of other peaks to feast your eyes on. Walking on a still snowy spring day added to the aesthetics.

Continue reading “Mt Izard from Texas Flat, Craigieburn Range, Canterbury NZ”

The Pyramid, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

Views of the Southern Alps and nearby Mt Potts on this off-track walk up The Pyramid (1748m), in Hakatere Conservation Park.

The big walk up Mt Potts was one of our favourites, and along the way you get views of The Pyramid (1748m). This peak is an easier alternative, but is entirely off track, so still not a beginner’s walk. Views of the Southern Alps are excellent, as are views of the southern face of Mt Potts. The long approach over mostly tussock is not so interesting however, and takes the sheen off the overall walking experience. Continue reading “The Pyramid, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Sunday Track, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

Spectacular 360 degree views from the summit of Mt Sunday on this easy 3km round trip in Hakatere Conservation Area.

Mt Sunday is a roche moutonnée on the Rangitata River Flats, and you can climb it on a marked track in less than one hour. I tend to do short walks only if they are on the drive somewhere, but with my mother visiting we (Sophia and me) decided to drive to the Ashburton Lakes district and show her the area. Mt Sunday is not far from the end of the road and so we thought we’d take the opportunity to do this excellent short walk while down that way. There are significant peaks and wide open spaces all around, so you get a lot of views for little effort. Continue reading “Mt Sunday Track, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Torlesse ascent, Korowai Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ

Spectacular views from Mt Torlesse (1961m), taking in other peaks in the Torlesse Range, including nearby Castle Hill Peak.

Mt Torlesse (1961m) is one of the most prominent mountains on the edge of the Canterbury Plains. I’ve seen it countless times driving past on my way west to other walks, or else from up in the distant Port Hills. After more than three years living in Christchurch it was finally time to climb it, and I picked a cracker of a day. There’s views of other peaks in the Torlesse Range, including a rugged aspect of Castle Hill Peak, and beyond these are peaks in the Craigieburn Range. To the east are the Canterbury Plains, and south-west is your route up. Continue reading “Mt Torlesse ascent, Korowai Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Catherine to 1877m, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

Spectacular views from pt. 1877m on Mt Catherine, of the Southern Alps, other peaks in the Canterbury Foothills, & the Ashburton Lakes area.

My plans to summit Mt Catherine in mid winter turned out to be a bit ambitious, but spectacular views from the minor peak at 1877m made this an excellent walk regardless. The grandeur of the Arrowsmith Range is to the west, many snowy mountains to the north, and Mt Catherine itself to the east. To the south-west are the wide open plains of the Ashburton Lakes area. Continue reading “Mt Catherine to 1877m, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”

Black Hill Circuit, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

This long walk to Black Hill (2067m) via Turtons Saddle offers seriously good views of the Rakaia River and countless mountains in all directions.

I’d had Black Hill (2067m) in mind for spring, with longer days and maybe a bit of snow left to enhance the look of these bare hills. But needing a plan B one mid-winter weekend, I decided to take a chance on this long walk in the snow. And what a walk it was. The views for the middle half were just spectacular, featuring the Rakaia River and more distant tributaries, the Wilberforce and Mathias Rivers, and countless snowy high peaks in all directions. Some of the best views I’ve seen in the Canterbury Foothills. Continue reading “Black Hill Circuit, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”

Castle Hill Peak Circuit via Mt Plenty, Korowai Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ

An alternative circuit route up Castle Hill Peak (1998m), over Mt Plenty, and returning via Foggy Peak for variety. Spectacular views the whole way.

This is an alternate and much less used route up Castle Hill Peak, a Canterbury classic. Starting at Dry Stream you climb steeply up a spur to Mt Plenty, with already excellent views along the way of the Craigieburn Range and other interesting topography. From there it’s a fairly easy ridge to join the main route to Castle Hill peak from Foggy Peak. The final ascent is quite steep and requires some confidence on either scree or possibly hard snow and ice. Views from the summit include other peaks in the Torlesse Range, and out over the Canterbury Plains. Returning to the start via Foggy Peak adds variety and includes great views of Lake Lyndon. A very satisfying circuit with views the whole way. Continue reading “Castle Hill Peak Circuit via Mt Plenty, Korowai Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ”