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”

Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ

A really excellent walk to a minor peak on Mt Crichton. Fabulous mountain and lake views almost the whole way, and a good work out too.

The climb up Mt Crichton near Queenstown was one of our best walks to date. And even if you don’t visit one of the summit peaks you’ll still feel a sense of achievement and wonder by going as far as the minor peak at 1723m. Be prepared for quite a work out though, as much of it is steep and on a sometimes obscure route. Continue reading “Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ”

Queenstown Hill Walk, Queenstown

As the name suggests, Queenstown Hill is on the very edge of the town itself. For just moderate effort you can climb 500m on a well formed track to 907m of elevation and grandstand views of Lake Wakatipu, The Remarkables, Cecil Peak and Ben Lomond.

The Queenstown Hill Walk provides excellent views for moderate effort, and it’s highly convenient, starting just on the edge of town. From the small car park you ascend steadily through a forest of wilding pines, some of them humongous, then after emerging above the tree line it’s a short but steep ascent to the summit. The 360 degree views include the Remarkables, Lake Wakatipu, Cecil and Walter Peaks, and Ben Lomond. Continue reading “Queenstown Hill Walk, Queenstown”

Jacks Point Track, Queenstown area NZ

The Jacks Point Track runs along the foreshore of Lake Wakatipu between Kelvin Heights and Jacks Point, providing views of the areas most impressive mountain peaks including the aptly named Remarkables, and Cecil Peak on the opposite side of the lake.

It snowed on the last day of our trip to Queenstown in late Autumn 2017, and so we took advantage of this relative novelty by doing the Jacks Point Track, which starts just behind the house where we stay. This walk provides excellent views over the remarkable Remarkables, as well as Lake Wakatipu, and various mountains on the other side of the lake, the most prominent of which is Cecil Peak. Continue reading “Jacks Point Track, Queenstown area NZ”

Kanuka Track, Bendigo (near Cromwell), Central Otago NZ

This loop walk passes through the Bendigo area, an old mining district in Central Otago near Cromwell. The track undulates through native Kanuka forest and amongst rocky outcrops, and there are wide open views of the Pisa Range and Clutha Valley.

On our seventh visit to Queenstown in May 2017 I had to work a bit harder to find decent sized day walks that we hadn’t already done. In doing so I came across the reasonably unique Kanuka Track, situated in Bendigo, an old mining area near Cromwell in Central Otago. The walks in Central Otago generally pass through fairly arid country, and they often start in farmland, then end up in grassland reserves or sometimes on arid alpine plateaus. But this one took us through native Kanuka forest, and up and down the foothills of the Dunstan Mountains, which were peppered with rocky outcrops. There were views of the almost 2000m high Pisa Range which we had climbed a couple of years earlier, and of the wide open Clutha Valley, which contains vineyards, farmland, and Lake Dunstan, which was formed by damming the Clutha River. Continue reading “Kanuka Track, Bendigo (near Cromwell), Central Otago NZ”

Ben Lomond Track, Queenstown NZ

Climbing Ben Lomond (1748m) is a must do for any reasonably fit hiker visiting Queenstown. The route we take to the top starts on the edge of town, and at first passes through beech forest, then pine forest, and once above the treeline it’s tussock grass until the summit, where there are 360 degree views of the Southern Alps, the Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu.

Standing on the summit of Ben Lomond on a clear enough day, you can blindly point your camera in any direction and come away with an epic landscape shot. There are 360 degree views of the Southern Alps, Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables, and depending on the weather conditions these views might look very different, as the photos that follow will demonstrate. Continue reading “Ben Lomond Track, Queenstown NZ”

Mt Rosa Track, Central Otago NZ

The route to the summit of Mt Rosa (1324m) starts in thorny weeds, but soon moves into tussock grass and before long there are views over the Gibbston Valley wine region, the Horn and Carrick Ranges, and eventually over to the Remarkables Conservation Area. Good for cooler weather because there’s no shade for the whole length of the walk.

The walk up Mt Rosa (1324m) from Victoria Flats was another lesser known walk to exceed expectations. It is so unknown that we didn’t come across a single other walker on two occasions. The wide track at first passes through thorny bushes, but before long these are left behind as it enters quintessential Central Otago high country; basically tussock grass. Eventually there are views of the Gibbston Valley wine region, and surrounding mountain ranges such as the Horn Range, Carrick Range, and the Remarkables Conservation Area. Continue reading “Mt Rosa Track, Central Otago NZ”

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”