Routeburn North Branch Track, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ

The Routeburn North Branch Track is a spectacular valley walk with beautiful vegetation and mountains towering overhead the whole way.

The Routeburn 2-3 day walk is one of New Zealand’s most famous Great Walks, and the whole area is truly spectacular. I’d done day walks on this route as far as Harris Saddle and Conical Hill in the past, but had never considered the Routeburn North Branch because valley walks aren’t really my thing. To anticipate a longer than average introduction, I’m now a convert, or at least for the very best valley walks like this one. Continue reading “Routeburn North Branch Track, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ”

Routeburn Track, Mt Aspiring & Fiordland National Parks NZ

One of New Zealand’s most spectacular multi-day Great Walks, there’s spectacular alpine and forest scenery the whole way.

The Routeburn Track is one of New Zealand’s most spectacular multi-day walks, and one of its so called Great Walks. It passes through two of NZ’s most beautiful national parks, Mt Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park. There’s quintessential NZ scenery the whole way, including sparkling alpine lakes, lush beech forest and towering rocky peaks. And at roughly 33km one-way it is short enough for less experienced trampers to take on. Continue reading “Routeburn Track, Mt Aspiring & Fiordland National Parks NZ”

Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area, Glenorchy NZ

Great views at the north end of Lake Wakatipu on the Mt McIntosh Loop Track to the summit of Mt McIntosh (1701m).

After enjoying the excellent hike to Mt Alaska in the Whakaari Conservation Area near Glenorchy, I had looked forward to returning and doing the Mt McIntosh Loop Track. Although this can be done as a loop by crossing over the Buckler Burn, we did it as an out and back tramp to the summit of Mt McIntosh (1701m) entirely on the northern side of the burn. Like the walk to Mt Alaska the views of surrounding peaks and valleys are excellent. A highlight for me were views of rugged Temple Peak (2089m), and views over the northern end of Lake Wakatipu. Continue reading “Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area, Glenorchy NZ”

Best Day-Hikes Near Queenstown NZ: Glenorchy Edition

Experience some of New Zealand’s best scenery on these classic day-hikes near Glenorchy, just 45 minutes drive from Queenstown.

The sleepy village of Glenorchy sits in a dramatic landscape at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu. It’s a spectacular 45 minute drive from Queenstown along the shore of the lake, and worth making the trip for the drive alone. The scenery on offer is amongst the best in New Zealand, and there are some really world-class hikes in the area, including the famous multi-day Routeburn Track.

Following are my favourite day-hikes around Glenorchy. There are majestic mountains, alpine lakes, glaciers, tumbling streams, and atmospheric beech forest. And you might be joined by some of New Zealand’s friendly bird life along the way.

Continue reading “Best Day-Hikes Near Queenstown NZ: Glenorchy Edition”

Mt Alaska ascent, Whakaari Conservation Area NZ

Really spectacular views from the summit of Mt Alaska (1965m), but there’s plenty of great scenery on the way up if you want a shorter walk. Highly recommended.

The views from the summit of Mt Alaska (1965m) are some of the best I’ve seen, and climbing this mountain isn’t as difficult as some other walks around Glenorchy. You don’t have to go all the way to the summit for excellent views, but if you have the time and energy I highly recommend it. Continue reading “Mt Alaska ascent, Whakaari Conservation Area NZ”

Pigeon Island Summit, Lake Wakatipu NZ

A shortish walk on Pigeon Island, at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu, surrounded by spectacular mountains. You’ll likely meet a weka or two as well.

Pigeon Island is a small island at the Glenorchy end of Lake Wakatipu. You can only get there by boat/kayak, (unless you’re a really good swimmer!) There’s a handful of short tracks on the island, and when we visited we climbed to the island’s high point for good views over the grand peaks at that end of the lake. There are also plentiful weka there, an otherwise rare flightless bird confined to just a few islands in New Zealand. Continue reading “Pigeon Island Summit, Lake Wakatipu NZ”

Routeburn Track to Harris Saddle & Conical Hill, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ

The Routeburn is a classic New Zealand multi-day walk, and the section in Mt Aspiring National Park to Harris Saddle, with a side trip to Conical Hill, is probably the most stupendously picturesque. You should do it.

One of New Zealand’s classic multi-day walks, the Routeburn Track can be walked from the Glenorchy end to Harris Saddle in a long day. The views are fabulous, and you can also fit in a short but steep side trip to the summit of Conical Hill (1515m) for even more fantastic views. It’s inevitably popular, but probably won’t be as busy as you think. It rates as possibly the best walk we’ve done to date, although with a well graded track and good facilities, it lacks the remoteness of some other great NZ day walks. Continue reading “Routeburn Track to Harris Saddle & Conical Hill, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ”

Routeburn Track to Routeburn Flats, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ

The first section of this classic multi-day walk follows the Routeburn through beech forest as it tumbles down from Routeburn Flats. You are surrounded by high peaks the whole way, and there are uninterrupted views of these as you approach Flats Hut.

The Routeburn Track is one of New Zealand’s classic multi-day tramps. Walking through the Mt Aspiring portion of the walk as far as Routeburn Flats makes for an excellent day hike of moderate difficulty. The track follows the Routeburn through beech forest as it tumbles down from the flats, and there are views through the trees of the burn and high peaks along the way. When you get to the flats the scenery opens up to provide uninterrupted views of the Humboldt Mountains, and Flats Hut makes is a good spot for lunch before heading back the way you came. Continue reading “Routeburn Track to Routeburn Flats, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ”

Sugarloaf Pass to Point 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ

Really spectacular views of mountains and valleys on this lesser known walk in Mt Aspiring National Park, including a nice side angle of Mt Earnslaw at 2830m of elevation.

We did this walk for the first time on about our seventh trip to New Zealand, and I can’t understand how it had remained under our radar for so long. After a moderate amount of time in very atmospheric beech forest, the walk emerges above the tree line to a saddle for the first views of mountains and valleys in Mt Aspiring National Park. But the views get really spectacular when you take a right turn off-track up to point 1290m. There are views of rugged mountains in various directions, including a great angle on Mt Earnslaw, which peaks at 2830m of elevation. Continue reading “Sugarloaf Pass to Point 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ”

Caples Track to Mid Caples Hut, Otago NZ

Roughly 5 hours of level walking through the beautiful Caples Valley takes you to Mid Caples Hut and back on this first (or last) section of the multi-day Greenstone and Caples Track circuit.

This section of the multi-day Greenstone and Caples Track circuit makes for an excellent day walk, and one for those who are less keen on climbing. The level track wanders from near the western shore of Lake Wakatipu through the beautiful Caples Valley. There are high mountains in every direction, beech forest, grassy flats, groves of manuka, mountain streams and the Caples River to enjoy along the way. Mid Caples Hut makes for a good lunch spot and turnaround point. Continue reading “Caples Track to Mid Caples Hut, Otago NZ”