Mt Grey / Maukatere Circuit, North Canterbury NZ

A circuit walk through native forest visiting the grassy summit of Mt Grey / Maukatere (933m) for extensive views, especially north east.

The circuit walk up Mt Grey / Maukatere (933m) is mostly a pleasant forest walk, but the views from the grassy summit are extensive. The views north-east up the coast are the best, with rolling hills between Mt Grey and distant tall mountains. We had interesting light and clouds when we did it, but I’d like to return on a clear day to get a proper look at those mountains. If you want to get good pictures of those peaks to the north then you’ll need a zoom lens. Continue reading “Mt Grey / Maukatere Circuit, North Canterbury NZ”

Faust & Mephistopheles, Lewis Pass, Canterbury NZ

Fabulous views & some of the most beautiful tarns we’ve ever seen on this walk up Faust (1710m) & Mephistopheles (1736m) in the Lewis Pass region.

I had read good things about the climb up Faust (1710m) in the Lewis Pass region. Nevertheless, the pictures I’d seen online didn’t get me too excited. It was with moderate expectations then that we set off on a calm, cloudless day in autumn, intending to also visit the nearby peak of Mephistopheles (1736m). We were destined to have our expectations exceeded yet again. There are excellent views of countless peaks and glacial valleys, particularly from Mephistopheles, and the Faust Tarns were probably the most beautiful we’ve ever seen. Plus you’ll possibly have the place to yourself, as we did despite perfect Saturday weather. Continue reading “Faust & Mephistopheles, Lewis Pass, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Taylor ascent, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

Stark and rugged scenery on this epic day-hike to the summit of Mt Taylor (2333m), the highest peak in the Canterbury Foothills.

I’ll admit to being motivated by epic climbs to high peaks that I can knock off in a big day, and so Mt Taylor was always beckoning. At 2333m of elevation it is the highest mountain I’ve ever climbed, and at 31km and 1650m change in elevation, one of the longest walks I’ve done. The views from the summit over the stark landscape of the Canterbury High Country and Southern Alps are predictably a highlight, however I also very much enjoyed the walk up and down the Swin River South Branch through a very rugged gorge. And despite it being a cloudless Saturday I had the whole mountain to myself (and no Sophia with me that day). Continue reading “Mt Taylor ascent, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”

Lewis Tops Route, Lewis Pass Scenic Reserve, Canterbury NZ

A classic walk to the Lewis Tops, climbing at first through attractive beech forest, then up onto the tarn strewn tops for wonderful views in all directions.

The popular Lewis Tops walk had been on my hit list for some time. I’d walked the nearby Nina Valley Track when staying in Hanmer Springs in winter, but had been waiting for clear weather to get onto high ground for the first time in this region. It was very much worth the wait, with wonderful views in all directions once above the bushline. Before then there is an hour-long climb through attractive beech forest, and there are also a number of tarns on the tops that made for nice photographic subjects. Continue reading “Lewis Tops Route, Lewis Pass Scenic Reserve, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Thomas Circuit, Mt Thomas Forest Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

A quick climb to the summit of Mt Thomas (1036m) for views over the Canterbury Plains & nearby hills, then a pleasant return through native forest.

Mt Thomas (1036m) is one of four smaller mountains less than an hour’s drive to the north-west of Christchurch, all of which have tracks to the summit and circuit options. The others are Mt Oxford, Mt Richardson, and Mt Grey (we’ve yet to climb the latter). Of the three we’ve now climbed, the walk up Mt Thomas was probably the least inspiring, however the loop walk we did was the shortest and hence was a good option when we wanted to get in a half day’s walk and be back in town for early afternoon. To be fair the best views were probably those to the west which were obscured by cloud on the day we did this walk. For me the most scenic section was the return leg from the summit along a broad ridge and then down through a valley of native forest on the Wooded Gully Track. Track notes at the end. Continue reading “Mt Thomas Circuit, Mt Thomas Forest Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Binser ascent, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ

Top class views of numerous peaks & two river valleys on this somewhat adventurous walk up Mt Binser (1860m) in Arthur’s Pass National Park.

Mt Binser had been recommended by a mountaineering neighbour of ours as a walk with great views and a bit of bush bashing to add to a sense of adventure. My wife Sophia rated the views as possibly the best we’d seen since arriving in NZ seven months earlier, which was a big call considering the quality of walks we’d done in that time. The views were spectacular though, taking in two river valleys, including views right up the Waimakariri River, countless peaks in every direction, many of them now familiar to us from other walks, and the rugged bare slopes of Mt Binser itself. Continue reading “Mt Binser ascent, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ”

Mt Bealey ascent, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ

A classic walk in Arthur’s Pass National Park to the summit of Mt Bealey (1836m), with grand mountain and valley views most of the way.

Climbing Mt Bealey is one of a few classic walks starting conveniently on the highway through Arthur’s Pass Village. The others include the popular walk up neighbouring Avalanche Peak , Mt Aicken across the valley, plus more we’ve yet to do. As for all of these walks you start with a steep ascent in beech forest, then once above the bushline there are extensive views of very scenic country, with many a rugged peak and deep valley to feast your eyes upon. Continue reading “Mt Bealey ascent, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ”

Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury NZ

Really spectacular views of the Southern Alps and surrounds from the summit of Mt Potts (2184m), in the upper Rangitata Valley.

The long tramp up Mt Potts in the upper Rangitata Valley is a real classic, with awe inspiring views from the summit topping off great views from before you even leave your car. I’d first come across Mt Potts on another hiking blog, and despite them not including many interesting photos my interest had already been piqued. It is a high peak at 2184m, and doable from the bottom (600m) on a long day hike, so that meets my criteria for a great physical peak-bagging challenge. It also came highly recommended in the excellent Canterbury Foothills: A Walking and Tramping Guide. With spectacular views of the Southern Alps promised I made it a target for mid spring, with longer days but still some snow up high. It turned out to be one of our best walks to date: highly recommended for fit trampers with basic navigation skills. Continue reading “Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury NZ”

Purple Hill from Lake Pearson, Canterbury NZ

A thousand metre off-track climb to the summit of Purple Hill (1680m) rewards with great views of Lake Pearson and the Craigieburn Range.

If you’ve driven out to Arthur’s Pass from Christchurch then you’ve passed Purple Hill (1680m), a fairly imposing mound that looms above Lake Pearson as you approach from the south-west. It stands alone, so I expected good views from the summit, and wasn’t disappointed. The pointy (-ish) summit itself is fairly rugged, with long and colourful scree slopes to the west, so it was a fun one to visit. At a little over 1000 vertical metres to the top, and no track, it requires some fitness, but is well worth the effort, and navigation was straightforward. Continue reading “Purple Hill from Lake Pearson, Canterbury NZ”

Bealey Spur to point 1545m, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ

The Bealey Spur Track is a classic walk to viewpoints over the braided Waimakariri River Valley. For 360 degree views continue to a minor peak at 1545m.

The classic and reasonably popular walk up the Bealey Spur Track offers excellent views over Arthur’s Pass National Park for less effort than climbing nearby mountains. There’s also no avalanche danger, so after significant spring snowfall we headed out there on a weekday to see some magical snowy scenes. And being on a weekday we had the place to ourselves. You can get great views of the braided Waimakariri River Valley from quite early on in the walk at roughly 980m of elevation. Most people continue through attractive beech forest and over plains of tussock grass to Bealey Top Hut, but for the full experience I recommend continuing past the hut to a minor peak at 1545m. Continue reading “Bealey Spur to point 1545m, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ”