Mt Pisa via Tinwald Burn Ridge Track, Central Otago NZ

A long hard walk up 1600m of elevation to reach the barren plateau on top of the Pisa Range, finishing at the summit of Mt Pisa (1963m).

The ascent of Mt Pisa is a pretty gruelling slog up 1600m of elevation over 12.5 km, but the otherworldly moonscape on top is impressive and worth the effort. Most of the climb is through farmland on a vehicle track, and when we did it there was a lot of animal dung around, so it wasn’t the most pleasant experience. Once out of the farmland and into the Pisa Conservation Area the terrain changes to a barren and rocky moonscape, and when on the plateau there’s a further 2km of mostly flat walking to rocks on the summit at 1963m of elevation. Continue reading “Mt Pisa via Tinwald Burn Ridge Track, Central Otago NZ”

Lower Wye Creek Track, Remarkables Conservation Area NZ

A walk through beech forest to the tree-line at Wye Creek in the Remarkables Conservation Area. There are views further up the creek and over Lake Wakatipu.

Lower Wye Creek is the forested section of a potentially much longer walk in the Remarkables Conservation Area. Ending the walk just above the tree line makes it a satisfying finish with views up the creek to high ground, and of rugged crags immediately above the creek. Picking your way very carefully between lethal spear grass you can climb up the steep slopes from the creek to get more (partial) views of Lake Wakatipu. Continue reading “Lower Wye Creek Track, Remarkables Conservation Area NZ”

Shirt Tail Track, Kingston NZ

A short but steep walk up the side of a mountain for views over the village of Kingston at the southern end of Lake Wakatipu. The Te Kere Haka Track is an alternative flat option along the lake foreshore.

The small town of Kingston sits at the southern end of Lake Wakatipu, and is a pretty low key place without the tourist scene around Queenstown. The short but steep Shirt Tail Track is one way to get above the town and enjoy the scenery if you are in the area, and the drive down from Queenstown is also nice.

The Te Kere Haka track is another flat option that runs alongside the foreshore of Lake Wakatipu; we did a bit of this but I don’t think we had time to make it to the end. Both walks are nice enough, but there’s much more specular scenery around Queenstown, and at the northern end of the lake around Glenorchy.   Continue reading “Shirt Tail Track, Kingston NZ”

Camerons Flat to Glacier Burn, East Matukituki Valley, near Wanaka NZ

The walk from Cameron’s Flat to the Glacier Burn crosses pasture and then enters beech forest, eventually stopping at the burn (stream) with views of Avalanche Glacier.

The East Matukituki Valley is about an hour’s drive from Wanaka, and is less well known than its neighbour, the West Matukituki Valley. The initial walk from Cameron’s Flat crosses featureless farmland, and doing this in full sun definitely took the gloss off this walk. Nevertheless, the views of the surrounding mountains are lovely, and the short section in beech forest to Glacier Burn is very picturesque. The views from the burn of Avalanche Glacier provide the money shot. Continue reading “Camerons Flat to Glacier Burn, East Matukituki Valley, near Wanaka NZ”

Gibbston River Trail, Otago NZ

The Gibbston River Trail is a constructed and mostly flat track that runs through the picturesque Gibbston Valley wine region next to the Kawarau River. It can be walked or mountain-biked.

The Gibbston River Trail runs through the picturesque Gibbston Valley wine region next to the Kawarau River. It’s a mostly flat gravel track that can be walked or mountain-biked, and to be honest biking it would probably be more enjoyable.

It offers nice views of the river in certain spots, which in sunny weather is an intense aqua colour as my pictures demonstrate. But the rest of the time it meanders through somewhat uninspiring vegetation that offers no protection from the sun, and so was a bit of a slog for us in summer. I recommend walking it in sunny winter weather. (In overcast weather the river won’t be such a nice colour.) Continue reading “Gibbston River Trail, Otago NZ”

Mt Crichton Loop Track & Lake Dispute, near Queenstown NZ

A straightforward walk on the foothills of Mt Crichton near Queenstown. The track passes through native beech and manuka forest, and visits a historic miner’s hut.

The Mt Crichton Loop Track is an undulating track on the foothills of Mt Crichton. It passes through native beech and manuka forest, by waterfalls and bare rocky hills, and visits a historic miner’s hut. You can also take a side trip to nearby Lake Dispute. It’s all very close to Queenstown, so it makes for a good half day option if you have other things on.  Continue reading “Mt Crichton Loop Track & Lake Dispute, near Queenstown NZ”

Mt Alfred ascent, near Glenorchy NZ

Mt Alfred sits alone on the edge of Mt Aspiring National Park, and the summit provides some of my favourite views in New Zealand.

Mt Alfred stands alone in one of the most picturesque spots in New Zealand. The summit provides some of the finest views in the country, with archetypal scenery north into Mt Aspiring National Park, and south over Lake Wakatipu. The Dart River runs from the former into the latter, and adds to the already starkly contrasting colours. Continue reading “Mt Alfred ascent, near Glenorchy NZ”

Tasman Glacier Lake Walk, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park NZ

A great short walk to the Tasman Glacier Lake foreshore, in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park.

If you visit Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park there are a number of excellent short walks that you could do in the same day, or squeeze into the day you get there, or the day you leave. Visiting the Tasman Glacier Lake is one of these, and offers excellent views of the Tasman River Valley and of course the lake, all for under an hour’s walking. Continue reading “Tasman Glacier Lake Walk, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park NZ”

Hooker Valley Track, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park NZ

Spectacular scenery for moderate effort on this classic walk in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. Take your camera!

One of New Zealand’s classic walks, the Hooker Valley Track takes you over the Hooker River and some of its tributaries on swingbridges as far as the glacial Hooker Lake. There’s dramatic alpine scenery all the way, and particularly good views of Aoraki/Mt Cook framed by mountains along the Hooker Valley, and then across Hooker Lake, which will be frozen in winter, and might have icebergs floating in it in spring/summer. And you can fit it easily into a half day. Continue reading “Hooker Valley Track, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park NZ”

Invincible Mine Track, near Glenorchy NZ

The Invincible Mine Track passes through nice forest scenery and provides excellent views up the Rees Valley on its way to an old gold mining site.

The Invincible Mine Track is a good easy-to-moderate walk through beech forest and manuka trees to an old gold mine. There are excellent views up the Rees Valley from the mine. I originally chose this as a warm up walk before we hit the longer trails, and it served that purpose nicely.  Continue reading “Invincible Mine Track, near Glenorchy NZ”