Sugarloaf Pass to Point 1290m, Mt Aspiring NP, 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 2890m of elevation. (Mind you, the impressive Earnslaw Glacier is on the other side of the mountain; you can visit this in a really gruelling day walk that we did a year or so earlier). There’s about 800m change in elevation on this walk.  Continue reading “Sugarloaf Pass to Point 1290m, Mt Aspiring NP, NZ”

Lindis Peak Track, Central Otago NZ

Climbing Lindis Peak (1226m) in Central Otago is a lesser known up and down walk with 360 degree views of the area, including the distinctive St Bathans Range, and distant snowy peaks of the Main Divide.

Sophia and I had driven through the Lindis Valley on our way to Mt Cook at Christmas time in 2015. After doing most of the regular day walks around Queenstown, I decided to drive out this way again in winter 2016 for the walk up Lindis Peak, and it did not disappoint. There are 360 degree views of the surrounding Central Otago countryside, (and over the border into Canterbury), including the impressive St Bathans Range, and distant snowy peaks of the Southern Alps. Continue reading “Lindis Peak Track, Central Otago NZ”

Queens Drive (part) & 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 (part) & 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”