Chain Hills Circuit, Lindis Valley, Otago NZ

A circuit through the Chain Hills for front and centre views of one of Central Otago’s most attractive mountain ranges, the St Bathans Range.

After first seeing the St Bathans Range with a bit of snow on it I had always wanted to visit and see them up close. So it was after plenty of snowfall that we headed out to a walk in the Chain Hills for front and centre views of this classic Central Otago scene. In snow the walk was scenic up on the tops, and felt quite remote for a day-walk of just moderate difficulty. And you can make a circuit of it by taking the Shilmar, Chain Hills and Long Acre Tracks. Continue reading “Chain Hills Circuit, Lindis Valley, Otago NZ”

Double Peak from Lindis Pass, Otago / Canterbury NZ

A short but steep climb to Double Peak (1323m) for spectacular views over the Lindis Pass Scenic Reserve, on the Otago/Canterbury border.

The Lindis Pass Scenic Reserve is a particularly attractive area of tussock covered mountains bisected by state highway 8.  If you have driven between Otago and Canterbury along this route then you may have stopped at the Lindis Pass viewpoint for a quick look. This is already very nice, but to supercharge your views then invest around 1.5 hours heading up to Double Peak (1323m). Continue reading “Double Peak from Lindis Pass, Otago / Canterbury NZ”

Devils Creek Track to Mt Kinaki, Bendigo Conservation Area, Central Otago NZ

Central Otago at its finest on the Devils Creek Track to Mt Kinaki (1309m). Arid, rocky landscapes including the deeply cut Devils Creek as a highlight.

Many day-walks in Central Otago are let down somewhat by a long walk in weedy farmland to get to a conservation area, and then before you know it, it’s time to return. On paper the walk up Devils Creek Track to Mt Kinaki (1309m) is just this kind of walk, although I thought the topography of Devils Creek held some promise. Well, I ended up enjoying this walk from start to finish. In perfect mid-autumn conditions the colours were just lovely, including the weeds, and the rocky slopes of the Dunstan Range were otherworldy. But it was Devils Creek itself that stole the show – a fabulously deep cut, arid and rocky valley that I think earns its devilish name. You also get views back towards Lake Dunstan and the 1963m Pisa Range. Continue reading “Devils Creek Track to Mt Kinaki, Bendigo Conservation Area, Central Otago NZ”

Cloudy Peak ascent, Central Otago NZ

A great sample of Central Otago’s unique scenery on this long and relatively unknown walk to the summit of Cloudy Peak (1526m), north-east of Cromwell.

Quintessential Central Otago scenery on this long walk to the summit of Cloudy Peak (1526m), not far from Cromwell. Once you begin the ascent onto higher ground there are great views of golden tussocked and wrinkly hills and valleys, contrasted with flat-as-a-pancake plains in the distance, and from the summit you have partial views of the attractive St Bathans Range. Continue reading “Cloudy Peak ascent, Central Otago NZ”

Rock Peak from Crown Saddle, Pisa Conservation Area, Otago NZ

A straightforward walk to Rock Peak (1490m) through tussock grass at the southern end of the Pisa Conservation Area.

This walk from Crown Saddle (1070m) to Rock Peak (1490m) provides easy access to the tussock-grassed Pisa Conservation Area. It’s easy walking along a vehicle track, and there are views the whole way over the Crown Range, the Wakatipu Basin, including the back of the Remarkables, and the Gibbston Valley wine region. Continue reading “Rock Peak from Crown Saddle, Pisa Conservation Area, Otago NZ”

Kanuka Track, Bendigo (near Cromwell), Central Otago NZ

This loop walk passes through the Bendigo area, an old mining district in Central Otago near Cromwell. The track undulates through native Kanuka forest and amongst rocky outcrops, and there are wide open views of the Pisa Range and Clutha Valley.

On our seventh visit to Queenstown in May 2017 I had to work a bit harder to find decent sized day walks that we hadn’t already done. In doing so I came across the reasonably unique Kanuka Track, situated in Bendigo, an old mining area near Cromwell in Central Otago. The walks in Central Otago generally pass through fairly arid country, and they often start in farmland, then end up in grassland reserves or sometimes on arid alpine plateaus. But this one took us through native Kanuka forest, and up and down the foothills of the Dunstan Mountains, which were peppered with rocky outcrops. There were views of the almost 2000m high Pisa Range which we had climbed a couple of years earlier, and of the wide open Clutha Valley, which contains vineyards, farmland, and Lake Dunstan, which was formed by damming the Clutha River. Continue reading “Kanuka Track, Bendigo (near Cromwell), Central Otago NZ”

Lindis Peak Track, Central Otago NZ

Climbing Lindis Peak (1226m) in Central Otago is a lesser known up and down walk with 360 degree views of the area, including the distinctive St Bathans Range, and distant snowy peaks of the Main Divide.

Sophia and I had driven through the Lindis Valley on our way to Mt Cook at Christmas time in 2015. After doing most of the regular day walks around Queenstown, I decided to drive out this way again in winter 2016 for the walk up Lindis Peak, and it did not disappoint. There are 360 degree views of the surrounding Central Otago countryside, (and over the border into Canterbury), including the impressive St Bathans Range, and distant snowy peaks of the Southern Alps. Continue reading “Lindis Peak Track, Central Otago NZ”

Hawkdun Range ascent (point 1857m), Maniototo, Central Otago NZ

An excellent walk through tussock grass to the barren summit plateau of the Hawkdun Range (point 1857m), in the remote Maniototo region of Central Otago.

An excellent walk to the top of the Hawkdun Range (1857m) in the remote Maniototo region of Central Otago, famous for its isolated vistas of golden tussock grass and mountains. The walk starts in the Manuherikia Valley, and after a flat start rises steeply up to the long and barren summit plateau of the Hawkdun Range: about 1100m of ascent and descent. Not as dramatic as the Southern Alps, but very atmospheric, and we had the place to ourselves.  Continue reading “Hawkdun Range ascent (point 1857m), Maniototo, Central Otago NZ”

Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur, Central Otago NZ

This long walk climbs through farmland to the Waikerikeri Conservation Area, and then through rugged tussock grass country to the barren summit of Leaning Rock (1647m), where there are many large tors.

A fairly long walk to the summit of Leaning Rock (1647m), the latter half of which is off track in the Waikerikeri Conservation Area. Starting in farmland, the walk ascends up Lilico Spur to the edge of the conservation area. From there the scenery is predominantly tussock grass, rocky areas, and finally the barren summit moonscape replete with multiple tors of various shapes and sizes. The overall feeling is one of remoteness, (although there are major  communications installations on the summit). Continue reading “Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur, Central Otago NZ”

Cairnmuir Hill Track, Central Otago NZ

This walk starts in New Zealand’s driest area, and climbs onto Cairnmuir Hill at 1114m of elevation. There are extensive views of the moody Dunstan Mountains, and over the flatlands further south.

This walk is one half of a complete traverse of Cairnmuir Hill (1114m) in Central Otago, which would take you from near Bannockburn over to Clyde. It starts in New Zealand’s driest and most arid area, with just introduced thyme eking out an existence. As you steadily climb the country becomes more hospitable, with familiar tussock grass dominating the scenery, along with a few rocky outcrops. There are good views over the moody Dunstan Mountains, with their large tors and wrinkled dark slopes, and also glimpses of the aqua coloured Lake Dunstan in the valley below. Continue reading “Cairnmuir Hill Track, Central Otago NZ”