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 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 via Lilico Spur, Central Otago NZ”

Cairnmuir Hill Track, Central Otago NZ

This walk starts in New Zealand’s driest area, and climbs onto Cairnmuir Hill at 1114m of elevation. There are extensive views of the moody Dunstan Mountains, and over the flatlands further south.

This walk is one half of a complete traverse of Cairnmuir Hill (1114m) in Central Otago, which would take you from near Bannockburn over to Clyde. It starts in New Zealand’s driest and most arid area, with just introduced thyme eking out an existence. As you steadily climb the country becomes more hospitable, with familiar tussock grass dominating the scenery, along with a few rocky outcrops. There are good views over the moody Dunstan Mountains, with their large tors and wrinkled dark slopes, and also glimpses of the aqua coloured Lake Dunstan in the valley below. Continue reading “Cairnmuir Hill Track, Central Otago NZ”

Earnslaw Burn Track, near Glenorchy NZ

A truly spectacular walk to a tussock basin below the Earnslaw Glacier. Highly recommended for fit walkers or those willing to spend a night there.

You get up close and personal with Mt Earnslaw and its glacier on this mammoth walk, which took my wife and me almost 10 hours. The Earnslaw Burn Track follows the true left bank of the Earnslaw Burn through beech forest up to a tussock basin below the Earnslaw Glacier. Once out of the forest the views will be enough to knock your hiking socks off, and are amongst the best we’ve seen on any day hike. They include the Earnslaw Glacier and numerous waterfalls, big fallen rocks, and we caught sight of an avalanche too. Continue reading “Earnslaw Burn Track, near Glenorchy NZ”

Sawpit Gully Circuit, Arrowtown NZ

The Sawpit Gully Circuit is a pleasant enough walk in the hills behind Arrowtown, which is itself a very pleasant historic town.

The Sawpit Gully Circuit starts in Arrowtown’s historic Chinese gold mining settlement next to the Arrow River. If you walk it clockwise the track climbs into the surrounding hills and returns through the Arrow River Gorge. It’s a nice walk through open country, but with some really spectacular walks in the area it has some steep competition. We’ve done it twice so far and it’s been a good choice for a not too strenuous walk close to Queenstown, and you can hang out in the picturesque village of Arrowtown afterwards. Probably shouldn’t be first on your list if you are new to the area. Continue reading “Sawpit Gully Circuit, Arrowtown NZ”