Ryton Track to Lakes Ida & Catherine, Canterbury NZ

A fairly easygoing walk on the Ryton Track though impressive Canterbury High Country mountain scenery, visiting Lakes Ida & Catherine.

The Ryton Track takes you through impressive mountain scenery to Lake Ida, and then Lake Catherine.  Both are nice enough – Lake Ida is in the nicer setting – but neither particularly photogenic. There are also Lakes Selfe and Evelyn at the start which are nice. For me though the highlight was the lumpy topography including scree covered mountains in the Craigieburn Range. It’s a fairly flat walk and not too long, so for relatively little effort you can get a good sample of the Canterbury High Country. Continue reading “Ryton Track to Lakes Ida & Catherine, Canterbury NZ”

Rakaia Gorge Walkway, Canterbury NZ

An easygoing walk along the Rakaia River as it cuts its way through the Rakaia Gorge, with views of the Mt Hutt Range to the west.

The Rakaia Gorge Walkway is an easygoing walk along a scenic section of the Rakaia River, with views of the river from various spots, and out over the Mt Hutt Range. It is suitable for families and those without tramping experience, although it can get a bit muddy. On a clear day the Rakaia River is a pleasing turquoise colour, and there are patches of native bush with exotics along the way. Continue reading “Rakaia Gorge Walkway, Canterbury NZ”

Rat Hill via Redcliffe Stream, Canterbury NZ

An attractive and varied walk through native shrublands besides Redcliffe Stream & up to the summit of Rat Hill (1450m) for views of rugged high peaks.

This was a very pleasant walk with good variety, and felt quite remote for a day walk. You start walking up rocky Redcliffe Stream surrounded by native scrublands on steep-sided hills. In early October the Kowhai trees were in bloom adding to this already attractive scenery. As you climb up the stream you eventually reach tussock flats, then commence the steep climb up Rat Hill (1450m) with great views over ruggedly attractive 2000m peaks in the Black Hill and Mt Hutt Ranges. Another walk to exceed expectations. Continue reading “Rat Hill via Redcliffe Stream, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Somers & The Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury NZ

A classic circuit walk taking in two major attractions, the summit of Mt Somers (1688m) with great views, & the spectacular Pinnacles rock formations.

On our first time up Mt Somers (1688m) we missed some of the views north and west due to cloud, but no such problem this time. You get wide open views of the Southern Alps, of Mt Taylor, the highest peak in the Canterbury Foothills, and east over the Canterbury Plains. Wander a bit around the summit plateau to get the best views in all directions. And to turn this already good walk into a real classic, descend off-track on the northern side of the mountain, and return along the Mt Somers Track past the spectacular Pinnacles rock formations.

It’s a pretty long walk and will require experience in snow and ice during the winter. Track notes at the end.

Mt Somers & The Pinnacles Circuit: The Scenery

I’ve mixed in shots from our first time up the mountain in May 2020, and the rest are from September 2021. First are some of the May shots…

Mt Somers from Sharplin Falls Reserve
Climbing through lush forest.
Mt Somers from Sharplin Falls Reserve
Ferns!
The beech trees were often covered in a black moss.
Mt Somers from Sharplin Falls Reserve
Sophia looks like she about to tunnel through this forest of manuka.

Now to September…

Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
On the way up through heath vegetation, the Canterbury Plains as backdrop.
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
The snowy south face of Mt Somers.
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
The final push to the summit.
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
Nice contrast in this photo.
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
Looking back along the final ridge to the summit.
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
Mt Winterslow in the foreground, with the Old Man Range left back.
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
Mt Taylor (2333m) somewhere at the back there.
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
A panorama north.
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
Panoramic views west.
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
Looking west.

Throwing in one more from May 2020, then back to the rest from September…

Mt Somers from Sharplin Falls Reserve
Mt D’Archiac from Mt Somers. The Clent Hills in the foreground. (May 2020)

On our descent now…

Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
Mt Winterslow (1700m).
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
First look at the what I presume are The Pinnacles.
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
More of The Pinnacles.
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
A waterfall on the Mt Somers Track.
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
A panorama of The Pinnacles, on the north side of Mt Somers.
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
Pinnacles Hut
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
The track followed Bowyers Stream for a while.

Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury

Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
This tree has distinctive bark. I think it might be New Zealand Tree Fuchsia.

Track Notes

Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
Walking clockwise, there’s a marked track from Sharplin Falls Reserve car park to the junction with the Mt Somers Summit Track. From there it’s a sparsely poled route to the summit. From the summit it’s easy walking past point 1595 to a rocky spur that you can take down to the Mt Somers Track. Take this back past Pinnacles Hut to the start. Some sections of this were a bit rough and involved multiple stream crossings.

Walking clockwise, there’s a marked track from Sharplin Falls Reserve car park to the junction with the Mt Somers Summit Track. From there it’s a sparsely poled route to the summit.

From the summit it’s easy walking past point 1595 to a rocky spur that you can take down to the Mt Somers Track. Take this back past Pinnacles Hut to the start. Some sections of this were a bit rough and involved multiple stream crossings. You can of course return back along the outward route from the summit, which is a shorter option. 

There’s more info on tracks in the area on the DOC website.

Mt Guy Circuit, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

Expansive views of the Ashburton Lakes and Southern Alps from the top of Mt Guy (1319m), then a pleasant walk back below the mountain.

On our first time up Mt Guy the summit was clouded in, so we returned on a clear day in early spring to give it another go. There are wide open views of the Ashburton Lakes, flat plains, distant Southern Alps, and various other lumpy/ rolling mountains and hills. It’s a fairly short if rather steep climb up to the summit, and you could return from there for a short day out. But to extend your fun I can recommend a circuit going off-track north-west from the summit and returning by the Te Araroa and Eastern Link tracks. Continue reading “Mt Guy Circuit, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”

Best Day-Tramps in the Canterbury Foothills

Some of New Zealand’s finest and most underrated day-tramps are to be found in the Canterbury Foothills, easily accessible from Christchurch.

Flanked by the Southern Alps to the west, and flat as a pancake Canterbury Plains to the east, the Canterbury Foothills are a smorgasbord of mountains, plains, braided rivers and glacial lakes. Many of the peaks are starkly beautiful patchworks of tussock grass and scree, some with stands of native forest on their lower slopes.

There are many well maintained tracks in the area, but much of the country is pretty open, so experienced trampers can extend their options considerably. You can get to pretty much anywhere in the Canterbury Foothills from Christchurch in a day-trip: driving times are between 50 minutes and a little over 2 hours for the furthest walks.

Continue reading “Best Day-Tramps in the Canterbury Foothills”

Trig M from Starvation Gully, Korowai Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ

Snowy scenes & views of Lake Lyndon and many other peaks on this shorter walk up to Trig M (1251m) from Starvation Gully.

A repeat trip to Trig M, this time the shorter route from Starvation Gully, mainly to see the area after fairly heavy snowfall. It’s a fairly steady 1.5-2 hour climb to the top, with most of the ascent achieved early on. The views are very good, particularly of Lake Lyndon and towards the Craigieburn Range. Trig M can also be climbed from the other side of Porters Pass on the Coach Stream Track – that is a bit longer but more interesting (except for the section through farmland).  Continue reading “Trig M from Starvation Gully, Korowai Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ”

Helicopter Hill-Lyndon Saddle-Camp Saddle Circuit, Craigieburn Range, Canterbury NZ

A pleasant half-day walk in the Craigieburn Range taking in views from Helicopter Hill, then more views from Lyndon Saddle to Camp Saddle.

This circuit walk in the Craigieburn Range visiting Lyndon Saddle and Camp Saddle is a good half day option with views of the Castle Hill Basin, Craigieburn Range and Torlesse Range. We took a side trip to Helicopter Hill (1256m) for the first of the views, and that would make a much shorter but worthwhile walk if you had limited time. For a bit more adventure then climb off-track along a ridge at about 1500m to Camp Saddle, with views all the way. The return section is a pleasant enough walk down through tussock and then back into native forest. Continue reading “Helicopter Hill-Lyndon Saddle-Camp Saddle Circuit, Craigieburn Range, Canterbury NZ”

Coal Hill Track, Mt Peel Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ

The Coal Hill Track takes you up steeply through tussock grass to the summit of Coal Hill (1617m), with excellent views the whole way.

The Coal Hill Track takes you 1000m pretty much straight up to the summit of Coal Hill (1617m), with great views over the surrounding mountains, the Rangitata River, and east over the Canterbury Plains. These mountains include Mt Taylor to the north, nearby Mt Harper, the Main Divide to the north-west, and nearby Mt Peel to the south. There’s also views towards the open ground around the Ashburton Lakes. Continue reading “Coal Hill Track, Mt Peel Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ”

Scotts Saddle Track, Mount Hutt Range, Canterbury NZ

A nice half day walk up through Mount Hutt Forest on the Scotts Saddle Track to above the treeline and views of the Plains and Foothills.

A nice half day walk up through Mount Hutt Forest on the Scotts Saddle Track to above the treeline. There are views of the Canterbury Plains and peaks in the Pudding Hill Range to the west, and Mount Hutt Range further north, including South Peak (2081m). The forest is varied and attractive, and may be the highlight for some walkers, although the views are good for relatively little effort. We returned back along the Ridge Track  and Opuke Track for a bit of variation – worth it I think. Continue reading “Scotts Saddle Track, Mount Hutt Range, Canterbury NZ”