Woolshed Creek Hut Circuit, Mt Somers area, Canterbury NZ

Excellent gorge scenery and grand mountain vistas await you on this moderate walk to Woolshed Creek Hut on the western side of Mt Somers.

With severe gale force winds forecast for the mountains on a sunny Saturday in late winter I thought it best we avoid exposed ground, and opted instead for this circuit walk to Woolshed Creek Hut near Mt Somers. Being at lower elevations I did not expect so much from the walk, but it very much exceeded expectations. We did the loop anti-clockwise and climbed up to 1100m on the Rhyolite Ridge and Bus Stop Tracks, with excellent views towards the distant but spectacular Arrowsmith Range, and also of the nearby Winterslow Range. Once near the hut there were narrow and rugged gorges with waterfalls and bluffs aplenty. Great stuff. Continue reading “Woolshed Creek Hut Circuit, Mt Somers area, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park, Canterbury NZ

Great views in all directions as you climb to the accessible high peak of Mt Cloudsley (2107m) in the Craigieburn Range near Castle Hill.

This was my first time to climb a 2000 metre high peak from the bottom (the bottom being at 760m in this case), and was also the highest I’d climbed in New Zealand.  Despite these numbers it is a fairly straightforward climb up Long Spur to the summit of Mt Cloudsley (2107m), the second highest peak in the Craigieburn Range. It made for a great winter walk after some fresh snow, with views along the Craigieburn Range and over to the Torlesse Range, and from the summit, views south-west over a jumble of topography around Lake Coleridge, and north-west towards numerous peaks in the Southern Alps. Continue reading “Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Oakden ascent, Canterbury NZ

Really spectacular views the whole way up Mt Oakden (1633m), including braided river valleys, Lake Coleridge & mountains galore. A real classic.

I got quite excited when first reading about this somewhat challenging tramp up Mt Oakden (1633m), and it did not disappoint. The mountain’s position at the foot of the braided Wilberforce River provides epic views straight up this valley, and these were a real highlight for me. Added to this are excellent views up the Harper Valley, of the Rakaia River, Lake Coleridge, and countless peaks in the Southern Alps. Do it on a clear day for maximum effect. Continue reading “Mt Oakden ascent, Canterbury NZ”

Steepface Hill ascent, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

Really excellent views over the braided Rakaia River and countless mountains on this big ascent up Steepface Hill (1876m) in Hakatere Conservation Park.

Since moving to Canterbury (NZ) in Autumn 2020 I’d had my eyes on Mt Hutt (2185m), the high point of a prominent mountain range bordering the Rakaia River. This would be a big walk with limited winter daylight hours, so a good plan B was to first climb a peak at the northern end of this range, Steepface Hill (1876m): a 1500m vertical climb over just four kilometres, and the only ridge on the route up is mostly flat. It’s all in the name! It’s not all about the steepness though, because the views of the Rakaia River and countless surrounding peaks were just fabulous. Also very cool was Terrible Gully at the start, a rather jagged waterway cut out of the hillside. Continue reading “Steepface Hill ascent, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”

Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest, Canterbury NZ

A 1000m climb through a variety of native vegetation takes you to the summit of Little Mt Peel (1311m) with great views of the Canterbury Plains & surrounding mountains.

One of Canterbury’s more popular walks, climbing Little Mt Peel takes you 1000m up through a variety of vegetation types, including podocarp and broad leaf rainforest with a variety of ferns, then native bush, and finally into heath and tussock. The views from the summit are very good, including the Canterbury Plains to the east, and various hills and mountains in all other directions. Continue reading “Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Bruce Circuit, Craigieburn Forest Park, Canterbury NZ

Top class 360 degree views of numerous mountain ranges and the Waimakariri Valley from the summit of Mt Bruce (1630m) in Craigieburn Forest Park.

I’d heard good things about the views from Mt Bruce (1630m) in Craigieburn Forest Park, and I was not at all disappointed! Spectacular 360 degree views await you at the summit, but there’s plenty of interest for much of the walk. There’s nice forest at the start, already good views on the tracked section, then ever improving views as you climb to the summit.

From the summit you overlook grand mountains in the the Southern Alps, numerous peaks around Arthur’s Pass, the wide open Waimakariri River Valley, and colourful patchy mountains of scree, tussock and forest elsewhere in Craigieburn Forest Park. You can also see the long thin forms of Blind Spur and Bealey Spur, the latter offering another good walk in the area that we have on our to-do list (…now done). Making a loop by returning eastward along an attractive ridge will top it all off. Continue reading “Mt Bruce Circuit, Craigieburn Forest Park, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Harper Circuit, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

This circuit walk up Mt Harper (1829m) offers wide open views of the Ashburton Lakes District & the Rangitata River, with the Southern Alps providing the backdrop.

With a forecast of cloudy weather to the north and west of Canterbury this walk up Mt Harper (1829m) in the Ashburton Lakes District was a plan B. It turned out to be one of the best walks we’ve done, with fabulous views in all directions. There’s variety in the views as well, with rugged snowy peaks, lumpier mountains, wide plains punctuated with shallow lakes, and the Rangitata River Valley. The overall impression is of remoteness, which I always like on a walk. Continue reading “Mt Harper Circuit, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Richardson Loop, Mount Thomas Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ

A pleasant loop through beech (tawhai) forest to the top of Mt Richardson (1047m), where there are good views over the Puketeraki Range and other nearby peaks.

Mt Richardson (1047m) is one of four modestly sized mountains that can be climbed, about one hour’s drive north-west of Christchurch. The others are Mt Oxford (which we’ve done), and Mounts Thomas and Grey to the east. It’s a pleasant if not spectacular walk through mostly beech (tawhai) forest, with just a bit of tussock grass and Dracophyllum scrub on the tops. The views from the summit include the Puketeraki Range rising front and centre above the Lees Valley, Mt Oxford, and further away the the Torlesse Range. Continue reading “Mt Richardson Loop, Mount Thomas Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Alford Track, Canterbury NZ

The Mt Alford Track takes you to the summit of Mt Alford (1171m) for good views over taller mountains on the inland side, and the Canterbury Plains to the east.

Mt Alford sits on the edge of the Canterbury Plains, with taller mountains on the inland side. The walk up is not bad, passing through forested sections early on, a short while in paddocks, then back into reserve for the alpine portion to the summit. The main attraction of this walk however is the view from the summit, although the views over the plains as we descended were also nice.

I spent a fair bit of time up on the summit photographing the changing views as the weather began to clear, enough that my wife Sophia made a small snowman to pass the time (that gets into one of my shots). Track notes at the end. Continue reading “Mt Alford Track, Canterbury NZ”

Peak Hill Track, Canterbury NZ

A popular walk up Peak Hill (1240m) to excellent 360 degree views over Lake Coleridge, various mountain ranges, and braided river valleys.

I’d read good things about the shortish walk up Peak Hill (1240m), and it’s fairly obvious on a map that the views will be good. One blogger claimed that it is the best of Canterbury’s foothills. The walk itself is just okay, with a steep, and on the day we did it, fairly muddy climb up to a ridge, which then leads to the summit. The views gradually improve as you go, and I recommend continuing past the summit to a rocky knoll at 1096m, to get a little more intimate with those peaks across the lake. From the summit of Peak Hill there are 360 degree views of all kinds of topography and landforms. I think I’ve seen better, but my pictures of these views proved popular with family and friends (on Facebook), so I guess the majority has spoken. Continue reading “Peak Hill Track, Canterbury NZ”