Queens Drive & Lake Alta, The Remarkables, Queenstown NZ

Three walks high up in the Remarkables Range near Queenstown: tracks to Lake Alta and Shadow Basin Lookout, and for something a little more hair raising, the Queens Drive track. Alpine scenes and spectacular views abound.

Three walks in one here: a straightforward walk up to beautiful Lake Alta from the Remarkables ski fields car park, a shortish climb to wide open views at Shadow Basin Lookout, and the somewhat hair raising Queens Drive track, that runs along a poor excuse for a ledge high up (about 2000m) on the west face of the Remarkables. Seriously spectacular views on the Queens Drive track, but if you don’t have a head for heights then you can just check out the views from Shadow Basin Lookout, which is on the way.  Continue reading “Queens Drive & Lake Alta, The Remarkables, Queenstown NZ”

Sawyer Burn Hut Track, Hawea Conservation Park, Otago NZ

Great views of lake Hawea and surrounding peaks on this walk starting at Kidds Bush campground, not too far from Wanaka.

Although a very nice walk, this hike to Sawyer Burn Hut was most memorable for the chance encounter with a completely nude hiker. (Well, he was wearing hiking boots). Alas, it was a somewhat portly middle aged man, but he did make quite an impression. Presuming you won’t meet any such person, you can instead expect to remember nice beech forest, great views of lake Hawea, and views of high peaks towards the end of the track. Continue reading “Sawyer Burn Hut Track, Hawea Conservation Park, Otago NZ”

Sunshine Bay Track, Queenstown NZ

A short walk along the foreshore of Lake Wakatipu, starting in Queenstown.

A short walk/stroll along the foreshore of Lake Wakatipu, starting in Queenstown. It was a bit overcast and so drab on the day we did this, but there are classic views of the Remarkables and Cecil Peak along the way. And it’s almost flat, so one for the less energetic, or when you just want to stretch your legs after lunch in town. Here’s a link to the track on Google Maps. Continue reading “Sunshine Bay Track, Queenstown NZ”

Kelvin Peninsula Walk, near Queenstown, NZ

This easy walk around Kelvin Peninsula is a short drive from Queenstown, and provides views of the area’s most iconic landmarks.

This relatively easy walk around the Kelvin Peninsula provides grandstand views of Lake Wakatipu, various peaks over the water, of Queenstown and Ben Lomond, and also the Remarkables. If golf is more your thing then the peninsula has a very picturesque golf course. Continue reading “Kelvin Peninsula Walk, near Queenstown, NZ”

Mt Dewar/Devils Creek Track, Central Otago NZ

A walk in the tussock grassed country behind Queenstown, with views over the Southern Alps and back to the Remarkables.

A nice enough walk in the hills/mountains behind Queenstown, not far from the Coronet Peaks ski field, although the overcast conditions let the scenery down a bit for the photos that follow. You ascend maybe 350m to the summit of Mt Dewar (1310m), then descend to Devils Creek, and return via a saddle and then the road. About 700m of ascent/descent. The country appears to be at the transition between the pointy Southern Alps, and domed mountains of the Central Otago interior. Mostly tussock grass with some rocky areas, and you can visit the upper Shotover River, although we didn’t have the time or legs for this on the day we did it. Continue reading “Mt Dewar/Devils Creek Track, Central Otago NZ”

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

Black Gully Loop, Blue Mountains, West Otago NZ

This lesser known walk in New Zealand’s own Blue Mountains ascends through beech forest to a high point of 1019m at Tapanui Hill. The views of surrounding farmland are extensive, but the forest is probably the highlight.

This walk is a reasonably short side-trip off Route 8 between Dunedin and Queenstown. It’s near nowhere in particular, so if you are passing by this way it’s a good opportunity to stop and do the walk. The loop track starts at Black Gully and ascends through very attractive beech forest to tussock grass on high ground. Views of the surrounding farmland are extensive, but for me the beech forest was the highlight. There are also some lush sections of gully forest towards the end. Continue reading “Black Gully Loop, Blue Mountains, West Otago 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”

Rocky Mountain-Diamond Lake Circuit, near Wanaka, NZ

An easy to moderate walk passing by the picturesque Diamond Lake, and climbing up to the summit of Rocky Mountain (775m) for views of Lake Wanaka.

This walk near Wanaka offers good views for only mild to moderate effort. It’s an easygoing alternative to the famous but much longer Roys Peak Track that starts down the road a bit closer to town. You can do a figure of eight taking in the picturesque Diamond Lake, and then climb higher to the summit of Rocky Mountain (775m) for views over Lake Wanaka and towards snow capped mountains to the north. My wife did this walk in winter with her sister and the views were even better. Continue reading “Rocky Mountain-Diamond Lake Circuit, near Wanaka, NZ”

Leaning Rock (1647m) 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 (1647m) via Lilico Spur, Central Otago NZ”