Moorhouse Range Tops, Tenahaun Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ

Excellent views of the Rangitata River and north-east towards Mt Taylor from the top of the Moorhouse Range (point 1153m).

This lesser known walk to the tops of the Moorhouse Range offers really excellent views of the Rangitata River and Harper Range to the west, and many other peaks including Mt Taylor to the north. There’s just 650m ascent and a fairly straightforward scrub bash to get these views, and you’re unlikely to meet anybody else. We did this walk after quite heavy snowfall so the views were extra good. Continue reading “Moorhouse Range Tops, Tenahaun Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ”

Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, Canterbury NZ

An unexpectedly attractive walk through the Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, to a viewpoint over mountains to the west.

The Tenahaun Track through the Rangitata Gorge was one of many NZ walks to exceed expectations. Starting near an irrigation canal diversion, the track is through private farmland almost the whole way, but the majority of it through the Rangitata Gorge is spectacular. When out of the gorge you can continue in a couple of directions, but we stopped on some rocks for views over plains to the Harper Range and over the Southern Alps. A very satisfying day out. Continue reading “Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ

The climb to Mt Phililstine (1967m) provides an adventurous alpine walking experience with fabulous views, including those of nearby Mt Rolleston.

One of the more gnarly walks in Arthur’s Pass National Park, the climb to Mt Philistine (1967m) from Otira Valley provides an adventurous walking experience through rugged terrain. It was our first time to climb a glaciated mountain, and there are excellent of the Rolleston Glacier on the mountain’s southern slopes, of nearby Mt Rolleston (2275m), and of many other peaks and valleys in Arthur’s Pass. Continue reading “Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ”

Black Mountain, Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

Spectacular views of barren 2500m high peaks, glacial valleys & the Rangitata River, from the summit of Black Mountain (1809m).

I had wanted to visit this remote corner of Canterbury for some time, but I was put off for a while by the long distances required to get to what I thought to be the most interesting peaks. Nevertheless, after studying the topo map in more detail I saw that the views should be good from Black Mountain (1809m), and it certainly delivered. You get really spectacular views of barren 2500m peaks and glacial valleys to the west, and of the Rangitata River to the east, including the confluence with the Havelock and Clyde Rivers. Continue reading “Black Mountain, Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”

Donald Hill via Turtons Saddle, Canterbury NZ

Walk up a section of the Te Araroa to Turtons Saddle for views of the Rakaia River. Extend your views by climbing nearby Donald Hill (1525m).

This is a pleasant walk along a section of the Te Araroa up to Turtons Saddle, where there are views back towards the Rakaia River. If you have extra energy you can climb Donald Hill (1525m) for extended views over towards Lake Coleridge, and the confluence of the Rakaia and Wilberforce Rivers to the north. The scenery is best once you climb up onto the saddle, with many domed peaks lining a wide open valley. You can continue along the Te Araroa to a couple of huts if you wanted to make this an overnight trip. Continue reading “Donald Hill via Turtons Saddle, Canterbury NZ”

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”